The-Wilkins-ShirazTasting notes

The best of the best!

The Wilkins Shiraz had its genesis during the 2008 vintage when three small parcels of fruit stood out as perhaps the best ever seen in the “Curagee” section of our Newlans Lane vineyard.  We immediately decided to produce a “best of the best” Heathcote Winery shiraz to recognise the passion and sheer hard work put in by our vineyard and winemaking teams headed by Brett and Rachel respectively.  The grapes were hand harvested and hand destemmed, then fermented in open bins before being pressed in a small wooden basket press. Matured in specially selected French oak, the result is an intense, vibrant full bodied wine which I am proud to put my name to – Stephen Wilkins, Owner.

Very limited. 1000 bottles produced.

95/100pts and cellaring to 2030 –  James Halliday

Vintage report

A great growing year with a burst of heat, but we were fortunate to have picked all our fruit before the heatwave that was moving across from SA hit Heathcote. Consequently 2008 saw some of our finest wines ever produced with delicate, yet intense flavours and integrated tannins. 2008 saw the Mail Coach Shiraz pick up a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge in London. This was also the year we produced our finest example of Shiraz, with the first ever vintage of ‘The Wilkins’ Shiraz.


‘The Newlans Lane Vineyard was originally planted with many varieties, including Traminer and Pinot Noir. The ‘T’ block, which is Shiraz grafted onto Traminer vines, takes on some physical characteristics of Traminer. The bunches are long and open, the berries dark skinned and small with intense aromatics and very grippy tannins.

The ‘P’ block, which is Shiraz grafted onto Pinot Noir vines, have small round, tight bunches, large, round berries with soft delicate tannins and lighter, brighter berry fruit flavours.

The ‘Scott Henry’ block was also originally Traminer, but is on a different canopy system, known as Scott Henry. The grapes develop differently again. They have smoother, rounder tannins than the ‘T’, and the fruit is slightly more subdued, although quite complex with a different berry fruit profile (more plums and red fruits compared to the dark berries/cherries of the T). Having the different blocks means we have different parcels to blend, making a more complex, layered wine.

We hand selected specific parcels from what we describe as “our old vines” to create an intense, vibrant full bodied Shiraz, this time without Viognier! Being a straight shiraz, it gives the wine a round rich, full bodied mouthfeel, which continues to linger for an amazing amount of time.

We hand harvested then hand destemmed the grapes for this wine in early March, before the heat wave of 2008 reached us in Heathcote. Inoculating with yeast immediately ensured a clean start to the wine, with a predominately new yeast called Lallemand VQ15. It was used to produce a rich, lush, balanced mouthfeel and full bodied wine, and to enhance varietal flavour, red fruit and mineral aromatic notes.

A small portion was inoculated with Anchor’s NT116, which also produces full‐bodied red wines, destined for wood maturation, and promotes blackberry and blackcurrant aromas.

The wine was fermented in open bins which were hand plunged 1‐2 times per day and cooled when required to ensure the temperatures were in the low‐mid 20’s (this ensures the fruit character is expressed at it’s optimum).  The wine was macerated post ferment for up to 10 days to allow the tannins to develop. The wine was pressed by hand using a small basket press. Pressing occurred when the tannins were perceived to reach their best. After allowing the wine to settle for a couple of days, the wine was transferred to oak barrels where it matured for 15 months. Bottled on 28 July 2009, the wine has spent the past two years in bottle, further maturing.

Oak used:
14.9% or ½ barrel of Francois Freres (Allier forest) 1 year old oak
28.4% or 1 barrel of Billion (Allier forest) 2 year old oak
28.4% or 1 barrel of Saint Martin, (Jupilles and Troncais forests in France) 2 year old oak
28.4% or 1 barrel of Seguin Moreau (Burgundy Grand Cru, blend of forests), New Oak
(barriques ‐ 228L burgundy shaped barrels) All oak used was seasoned for 3 years before being made into the barrels. This results in a smoother, rounder more subtle oak influence.  The use of different forests enables more complexity and different nuances to develop.

The blocks used were:
43.3% or 1 ½ barrels of ‘T’
28.4% or 1 barrel of ‘P’
28.4% or 1 barrel of ‘Scott Henry’

Alcohol 14.5% : Titratable acid 6.3g/L : pH 3.55