Australia’s world recognised wines have traditionally been from our warmer wine regions. Most notably, the Barossa Valley’s Mediterranean climate has produced many big, bold award-winners. Many of these vines date back to the 1840s.
Now our wines from cool climate (and usually high-altitude) regions are turning heads. One of Australia’s First Families of Wine, McWilliams is leading the charge with their McW 660 Reserve range.
The McWilliams Family
In 1857, Irish immigrant Samuel McWilliam arrived in Australia. Twenty years later he planted his first vines near Corowa, NSW. In 1913, his indefatigable son John James read about the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.
Not long after, JJ raised 50,000 Black Shiraz, Doradillo and Malbec vine cuttings at a vine nursery. He tended each vine until the irrigation came through. The first Hanwood Estate vintage was in 1917 and by 1935 the McWilliams family were exporting their wine to the world.
In 2019, McWilliams Wine Group is the sixth largest Australian wine company and is still 100% family owned.
It’s a new altitude
Mc Williams grows wine in the Riverina, Orange, Canberra, the Hunter Valley and Hilltops near Young. They also have vineyards at the ‘coolest’ location of all – the alpine Tumbarumba on the NSW/Victorian border.
The McW 660 Reserve Range is harvested from vineyards named for these high altitudes. The McW 660 Reserve Syrah from near Canberra and McW 660 Reserve Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon (Hilltops) are distinctive, elegant and extremely food friendly.
With both vineyards close to the Snowy Mountains they have the ideal cool climate conditions: intense sunshine during the day and cool nights for prolonged ripening. Extended ripening means more complex and concentrated flavours.
As global temperatures rise, these regions will become crucial in the ongoing success of not only McWilliams but also the Australian wine industry.
Cool and elegant
McW wines from these regions are lower in alcohol, ripe and ready to drink without a lot of age. McW 660 Reserve wines are versatile, medium bodied wines designed with modern Australian tastes in mind.
Acclaimed Group Chief Winemaker Jim Chatto says, “The McW 480 and 660 Reserve ranges personify everything we love about cool climate wine. Pure and elegant, yet intense wines; with a great natural balance making them perfect for so many occasions and a wonderful introduction to the character and quality that come from these exciting regions.”
Gold medal-winning McW 660 Canberra Reserve Syrah is silky, tasting of red fruits with a little spicy oak. Good with hearty meat dishes or alternatively as the winemakers intended – spicy Asian dishes. This is drinking very well now and onto 2025.
Available at major retailers and independent stores nationally.