“I’m here to talk about the brand Henry’s Drive, and to celebrate our region of Padthaway,” says owner Kim Longbottom, who has a very interesting range of quality-focused wine, encompassing Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon and the pioneer spirit of Australia.
Henry’s Drive is the brand named after the proprietor of the 19th century horse drawn mail coach service that once ran through their property.
The evening started out with the new “H” Chardonnay from the 2014 vintage. I like the simple initial “H” as well as the taste of the wine with its aromas of citrus and tropical fruit like honeydew. The alcohol is 12.5% which is interesting because I was telling Kim that one of the new trends I read about in Australia is the dialing back of alcohol.
Next we moved on to the 2013 Pillar Box red, made up of 70% Shiraz, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. As you can imagine has aromas and flavors of blackcurrant, mint, and licorice which is the signature of the region. It is the 10th vintage of this wine and it was very good to taste – and very good price, at $14.99.
The third wine was the 2015 Pillar Box Shiraz, much more focused with flavors of black berry, cherry, and violet. The fruit is sourced from different sites in the Longbottom family Vineyards. The soils are various types of loam, and deep sand over limestone. This soil contributes the unique aromas and the structure of the wine. Following this is the 2014 Henry’s Drive “H” Syrah. You may wonder – as did I – why Kim used the Australian grape name for one label and the French grape name for the other. Her answer was that structurally and stylistically the Syrah label had more in common with its French roots.
Next came the 2012 Henry’s Drive Shiraz which has white plum and black cherry fruit and fine grained, mouth filling tannins. This wine, at $39, is quite a quality wine a perfect match for steak. The charred flavors of the grilled meat just really melded with the juicy acidity and structured tannins of the wine. The 2012 Henry’s Drive Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend also pairs well for similar reasons, and has more chocolate and dark earthy overtones.
The next two wines fit into the luxury category. The Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz, 2012, is $79 but you can taste the price in every sip. Lots of delicious aromas and flavors of lavender, pepper, exotic spices, star anise, and cardamom. The Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz is the same price, but from the 2010 vintage. I suppose choosing between them is like choosing between your children. Some people like the nuances of flavor a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon can bring, others like that piercing purity of Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit for this wine is sourced from a single family vineyard and the vines are grown on a gentle slope.
It was a lot of fun seeing Kim again – her wines keep getting better and better and she’s very much a woman in step with the American and Australian market for fine wines. I can’t remember how old her daughter was when I first met Kim, but now she’s 18 – legal drinking age in Australia. Kim explains that she just presented her with her first line of wine.
Whether Miss Longbottom takes Kim up on this offer time can only tell, as she is in university now. But what a refreshing change: to have a winery pass from mother to daughter.