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  • News & OffersSee all

    Producer Profile Birks Wendouree

    by Dave Shoobert | May 23, 2020

    Birks Wendouree

    Click Here To Shop Birks Wendouree
    Wendouree are wine-lovers wines. Their distinctive beauty confronts & challenges the drinker year on year, making them some of Australia's most recognised & sought-after wines. Tony & Lita Brady, custodians of Wendouree since 1974, have built the estate into the opposite of Australia’s modern, market-driven, high-tech industry, still only selling directly to their trusted mailing list year to year. Hidden in a clearing of red gums not far from the township of Clare, the old stone cellars, built-in 1914, are still in use and almost unaltered today. The wines made here are individual and age-worthy in the style of winemakers past.
    History
    • The brand first started with Alfred Percy Birks. He and his brother planted the first vines in 1892, thus establishing A.P. Birks’ Wendouree Cellars.The word Wendouree was, at the time,thought to be an Aboriginal word meaning place of water.
    • Wendouree was one of four wineries in the region in 1890's along with Quelltaler, Seven Hill, and the Stanley Wine company which was established in the same year as Wendouree. Thecellars, which still stand today,were built a few years later in 1914.
    • In 1917, failing health caused Alfred Birks to hand over responsibilities to his son Roly who remained involved for the next 65 vintages. Taking on roles of winemaker and salesman through a long, difficult period from 1917 to 1970,he established the eastern block vineyard and developed sales of dry red and fortified wines in cask to the local trade and hotels.
    • Aged 77, Roly Birks sold Wendouree, but unfortunately, it was purchased by someone with neither the capital nor the ability to run the business thus its was offered for sale by the mortgagee.
    • Following this, the vineyards fell into disarray with broken trellis failing to be maintained and overgrown vines being left untrained.
    • In 1974, Max Liberman purchased the estate through a mortgagee sale. Son-in-Law Tony Brady was asked to run the property with his wife Lita. Roly was retained as a consultant and stayed on for 7 years, turning the vineyard around.
    • Any unwanted vines were removed in 1981 which accounted for nearly half the vineyard. Varieties including Chenin Blanc, False Pedro and Crouchon were all removed reducing the size of the vineyard from 24Hato 12Ha.
    • In the last few decades, with the assistance of Stephen George of Ashton Hills, the old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Mataro and Muscat have been revitalised to produce the incredible fruit yielded from them today.
    In the vineyard

    The vineyard itself is the dominating factor in the quality of the wines. Established in 1892, some of the vines are now well over 100 years old. In one block, a plot of bush-trained Shiraz dates from 1892 and another from 1893, while a parcel of trellised Mataro (Mourvèdre) has been grafted onto vines dating from 1898. Further from the winery, in what is known as the eastern block, there’s more Shiraz planted in 1919 and 1920 and some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grafted over onto 1920s rootstock. The most recent plantings date from 1975 and the early 1980s. In all, there are 12 Ha of vines, a historical look into the Clare Valley viticultural past.

    The vineyards are unirrigated and planted on mainly red loam over limestone. There’s also a block on shale and a parcel that has sandier loam. The elevation is at 450–530m at the eastern block but despite this, the harvest for reds is typically two weeks earlier at Wendouree than elsewhere in the Clare Valley. Yields turn around just less than 30hl/ha with an average alcohol of 13.5°.
    In the cellar

    The grapes are hand-harvested, basket pressed and fermentation takes place in open-top fermenters with hand plunging of the grape cap. The malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wines are then aged in 300-litre fine-grain French oak barrels, 25% new, for a year. Tony's knowledge of wine science is such that new technology needs a purpose to be introduced, meaning that the only concessions to the modern age area small laboratory for analysis, stainless steel to line the fermentersand in tanks for blending, and a tiny bottling line.

    Blending is carried out after the barrel aging and the wines are bottled with just a light filter. Six months later they are sold through the winery's exclusive mailing list.

    Old vines of Birks Wendouree Vineyard
    The Front block of old Wendouree vines. Shiraz planted in 1911, Malbec in 1989 and Cabernet in 1971 : Photo © Milton Wordley.
    The wines of Birks Wendouree

    Cabernet Malbec
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-60% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20-40% Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1975, 1920 &1898
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1996 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    1998 - 94 Points -Wine Companion
    1999 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2002 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2005 - 18.5+/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2008 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2009 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2011 - 93 Points -The Wine Front
    2012 - 97 Points - The Wine Front
    2013-97+ Points - The Wine Front
    2014 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 -97 Points - The Wine Front
    2017 -95+ Points - The Wine Front


    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Variety:Cabernet Sauvignon
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1971 & 2002
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1997 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2001 -18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2002 -18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2009 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2012 - 98 Points-Wine Companion
    2013 - 98 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2014 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96+ Points - The Wine Front
    2017 - 94 Points - Robert Parker

    Malbec
    Variety:Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1898
    Vintages to Look out for:
    2006 - 93 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 95+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2014 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 94 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96 Points - The Wine Front

    Shiraz
    Variety:Shiraz
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893 & 1919
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1991 - 18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    1994 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    1995 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    1997 - 18/20 Jancis Robinson
    1998 - 96 Points -Jeremy Oliver
    1999 - 18/20 Jancis Robinson
    2002 - 97 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2003 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2004 - 97 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2005 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2006 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2008 - 96 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2009 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2011 - 92+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 98 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 98 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 97 Points -Wine Companion
    2015 - 98 Points - Wine Companion
    2016 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2017 - 96 Points - Robert Parker

    Shiraz Malbec
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-50% Shiraz & 20-50% Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893, 1898, 1919 & 1920
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1996 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    1998 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2005 - 18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 96 Points -Wine Companion
    2008 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2010 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 97 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2015 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2017 - 95 Points - Robert Parker

    Shiraz Mataro
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-60% Shiraz & 20-40% Mataro
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893, 1919 & 1920
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1995 - 94 Points - Robert Parker
    1996 - 93 Points - Wine Companion
    1998 - 97 Points - Robert Parker
    1999 - 93 Points - Robert Parker
    2002 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2004 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2005 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2006- 94 Points - Wine Companion
    2009 - 94+ Points - The Wine Front
    2010 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 96 Points- The Wine Front
    2013 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 -97 Points - Wine Companion
    2016- 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2017 - 95+ Points - The Wine Front
    Click Here To Shop Birks Wendouree

  • Upcoming EventsSee all

    Producer Profile Birks Wendouree

    by Dave Shoobert | May 23, 2020

    Birks Wendouree

    Click Here To Shop Birks Wendouree
    Wendouree are wine-lovers wines. Their distinctive beauty confronts & challenges the drinker year on year, making them some of Australia's most recognised & sought-after wines. Tony & Lita Brady, custodians of Wendouree since 1974, have built the estate into the opposite of Australia’s modern, market-driven, high-tech industry, still only selling directly to their trusted mailing list year to year. Hidden in a clearing of red gums not far from the township of Clare, the old stone cellars, built-in 1914, are still in use and almost unaltered today. The wines made here are individual and age-worthy in the style of winemakers past.
    History
    • The brand first started with Alfred Percy Birks. He and his brother planted the first vines in 1892, thus establishing A.P. Birks’ Wendouree Cellars.The word Wendouree was, at the time,thought to be an Aboriginal word meaning place of water.
    • Wendouree was one of four wineries in the region in 1890's along with Quelltaler, Seven Hill, and the Stanley Wine company which was established in the same year as Wendouree. Thecellars, which still stand today,were built a few years later in 1914.
    • In 1917, failing health caused Alfred Birks to hand over responsibilities to his son Roly who remained involved for the next 65 vintages. Taking on roles of winemaker and salesman through a long, difficult period from 1917 to 1970,he established the eastern block vineyard and developed sales of dry red and fortified wines in cask to the local trade and hotels.
    • Aged 77, Roly Birks sold Wendouree, but unfortunately, it was purchased by someone with neither the capital nor the ability to run the business thus its was offered for sale by the mortgagee.
    • Following this, the vineyards fell into disarray with broken trellis failing to be maintained and overgrown vines being left untrained.
    • In 1974, Max Liberman purchased the estate through a mortgagee sale. Son-in-Law Tony Brady was asked to run the property with his wife Lita. Roly was retained as a consultant and stayed on for 7 years, turning the vineyard around.
    • Any unwanted vines were removed in 1981 which accounted for nearly half the vineyard. Varieties including Chenin Blanc, False Pedro and Crouchon were all removed reducing the size of the vineyard from 24Hato 12Ha.
    • In the last few decades, with the assistance of Stephen George of Ashton Hills, the old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Mataro and Muscat have been revitalised to produce the incredible fruit yielded from them today.
    In the vineyard

    The vineyard itself is the dominating factor in the quality of the wines. Established in 1892, some of the vines are now well over 100 years old. In one block, a plot of bush-trained Shiraz dates from 1892 and another from 1893, while a parcel of trellised Mataro (Mourvèdre) has been grafted onto vines dating from 1898. Further from the winery, in what is known as the eastern block, there’s more Shiraz planted in 1919 and 1920 and some Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grafted over onto 1920s rootstock. The most recent plantings date from 1975 and the early 1980s. In all, there are 12 Ha of vines, a historical look into the Clare Valley viticultural past.

    The vineyards are unirrigated and planted on mainly red loam over limestone. There’s also a block on shale and a parcel that has sandier loam. The elevation is at 450–530m at the eastern block but despite this, the harvest for reds is typically two weeks earlier at Wendouree than elsewhere in the Clare Valley. Yields turn around just less than 30hl/ha with an average alcohol of 13.5°.
    In the cellar

    The grapes are hand-harvested, basket pressed and fermentation takes place in open-top fermenters with hand plunging of the grape cap. The malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wines are then aged in 300-litre fine-grain French oak barrels, 25% new, for a year. Tony's knowledge of wine science is such that new technology needs a purpose to be introduced, meaning that the only concessions to the modern age area small laboratory for analysis, stainless steel to line the fermentersand in tanks for blending, and a tiny bottling line.

    Blending is carried out after the barrel aging and the wines are bottled with just a light filter. Six months later they are sold through the winery's exclusive mailing list.

    Old vines of Birks Wendouree Vineyard
    The Front block of old Wendouree vines. Shiraz planted in 1911, Malbec in 1989 and Cabernet in 1971 : Photo © Milton Wordley.
    The wines of Birks Wendouree

    Cabernet Malbec
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-60% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20-40% Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1975, 1920 &1898
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1996 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    1998 - 94 Points -Wine Companion
    1999 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2002 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2005 - 18.5+/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2008 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2009 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2011 - 93 Points -The Wine Front
    2012 - 97 Points - The Wine Front
    2013-97+ Points - The Wine Front
    2014 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 -97 Points - The Wine Front
    2017 -95+ Points - The Wine Front


    Cabernet Sauvignon
    Variety:Cabernet Sauvignon
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1971 & 2002
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1997 - 18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2001 -18/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2002 -18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2009 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2012 - 98 Points-Wine Companion
    2013 - 98 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2014 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96+ Points - The Wine Front
    2017 - 94 Points - Robert Parker

    Malbec
    Variety:Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1898
    Vintages to Look out for:
    2006 - 93 Points - Wine Companion
    2010 - 95+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2014 - 95 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 - 94 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96 Points - The Wine Front

    Shiraz
    Variety:Shiraz
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893 & 1919
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1991 - 18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    1994 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    1995 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    1997 - 18/20 Jancis Robinson
    1998 - 96 Points -Jeremy Oliver
    1999 - 18/20 Jancis Robinson
    2002 - 97 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2003 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2004 - 97 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2005 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2006 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2008 - 96 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2009 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2010 - 96 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2011 - 92+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 98 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 98 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 97 Points -Wine Companion
    2015 - 98 Points - Wine Companion
    2016 - 96 Points - The Wine Front
    2017 - 96 Points - Robert Parker

    Shiraz Malbec
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-50% Shiraz & 20-50% Malbec
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893, 1898, 1919 & 1920
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1996 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    1998 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2005 - 18.5/20 - Jancis Robinson
    2006 - 96 Points -Wine Companion
    2008 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2010 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 97 Points -Wine Companion
    2013 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 95 Points -Wine Companion
    2015 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2016 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2017 - 95 Points - Robert Parker

    Shiraz Mataro
    Variety:Varies due to vintage - 80-60% Shiraz & 20-40% Mataro
    Soil Type:Red Loam over Limestone
    From Vines Planted in*:1893, 1919 & 1920
    Vintages to Look out for:
    1995 - 94 Points - Robert Parker
    1996 - 93 Points - Wine Companion
    1998 - 97 Points - Robert Parker
    1999 - 93 Points - Robert Parker
    2002 - 95 Points - The Wine Front
    2004 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2005 - 95 Points - Jeremy Oliver
    2006- 94 Points - Wine Companion
    2009 - 94+ Points - The Wine Front
    2010 - 93+ Points - The Wine Front
    2012 - 96 Points- The Wine Front
    2013 - 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2014 - 97 Points - Wine Companion
    2015 -97 Points - Wine Companion
    2016- 96 Points - Wine Companion
    2017 - 95+ Points - The Wine Front
    Click Here To Shop Birks Wendouree

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