Dan's Blog


Friday, November 08, 2019

These days one receives a barrage of press release emails advising that this winery or that has won a medal or trophy, somewhere or other, here or there around the world. Most of these end up in my circular filing folder (the bin) as they are just an attempt to broaden their reach for a single achievement.

However, when I receive a stream of such announcements from a single winery during the course of the year, I start to sit up and pay attention. 

In this case it is the year’s notices by the high achieving, rather demure mob at Reillys Wines.

To say that 2019 has been a milestone year for the Clare Valley’s Reillys Wines would be an understatement. The year marked the 25th vintage since the winery’s quiet start in an old stone cottage (that is now their cellar door), in the township of Mintaro, where Dr Justin Ardill and wife, Julie, made their first wine in 1994. Ever since those humble beginnings Justin has maintained the age-old practice of fermenting the red grapes, in open fermenters using wild yeasts and with minimal intervention.

2019 also marked the 100th Anniversary of the old Grenache patch in their vineyards. These ancient bush vine vines were planted by a serviceman returning after the First World War. Although the centenary vintage is 3-4 years away from being released, it is evolving superbly according to Justin.

In addition, this vintage marked the production of their first Sagrantino wine. Sagrantino is a native Italian red variety that is fruity, spicy and yet finely structured and which is showing great promise here in Australia. By the way, Reillys was the first winery to plant Sagrantino in the Clare Valley.

During the year Reillys also achieved some excellent results in wine shows and judging’s. Starting with the fact that the Reillys 2014 ‘epitaph’ shiraz came third to Penfolds Grange, in the Winestate “World’s Greatest Shiraz Challenge XIV” judging. This is an amazing honour for a wine that retails for $100, whereas Grange retails at around $900 a bottle. The Epitaph was also judged as being “Top in Class”, in the $100-$200 category at this event.

This accolade was followed in October by the announcement that at the Canberra International Riesling Championship (CIRC) all three of the Reillys entries were awarded gold medals. The CIRC is the largest international Riesling show in the world with a total of 502 entries this year. The Reillys 2019 RIESLING was awarded a gold medal in Class 1 – Current Vintage. While both the 2018 and 2016 vintages were awarded gold medals in Class 4 – Vintages 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Then as a culminating triumph to this outstanding year of achievements, Reillys were recently advised by Winestate Magazine that they were one of the finalists in the “top five wines” in two categories of the Winestate “Wine of the Year” awards. The first being in the “Riesling of the Year” category, in which the Reillys 2018 WATERVALE CLARE VALLEY RIESLING was nominated. The second being in the “Cabernet Sauvignon of the Year’ category in which the Reillys 2016 ‘THE DANCER’ CLARE VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON was nominated. The winners will be announced at the presentation ceremony in mid-November.

Being judged as one of the Top 5 wines in two classes is an amazing honour and grand testament to the achievements of Reillys Wines and their excellent balancing act between the old, ‘tried & true’ methods and the new, ‘cutting edge’.

A truly outstanding year by a small team of “quiet achievers” that are helping to re-establish the Clare Valley’s rightful place on the Australian wine map.