Charles Melton Nine Popes Shiraz-Grenache-Mourvedre, Charles Melton Shiraz
Charlie Melton is a gifted winemaker and the man behind some of the most highly-prized and undervalued wines in the country. His winery, on Krondorf Road, just along from Rockford and St Hallett, has a certain eccentricity: the weatherboards are starting to grey and the place looks a little battered by the elements. It sits below curvaceous hills, almost bare of trees, but extraordinarily evocative.
Melton is often seen at the cellar door swapping a few yarns with his loyal tribe of customers. He talks about his approach to wines in a down-to-earth manner. He once said, “I don’t think that deeply but if I get my trousers on in the morning properly it sets the day”. He doesn’t muck around with language either; “People talk about sense of place. I found my vineyard by happenstance. Owning vineyards hedges our bets if growers are overcome by the devil.” His approach is generous and embracing – like his wines.
As expected, great emphasis is placed on fruit quality, making Nine Popes to Grenache and Mourvedre what Grange is to Shiraz. Erroneously named after Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Nine Popes (first vintage 1988) has become the doyen of Australian Rhone blends. This is a very Australian wine, with ripe and penetrating musky/plummy aromas, deep-set fruit and flavour. Whole bunch fermentation, open fermentation, pigeage and indigenous yeast fermentation are various techniques employed to optimise blending options.
The Barossa Shiraz is sourced from low-yielding vines, many of them gnarled, old veterans. A classic Barossa style with perfumed blackberry, plum, dark cherry and chocolate aromas underpinned by vanillin oak. The palate is big and plump with immense fruit and weight. It is very much a ‘heartland’ style. The fruit is sourced from low-yielding dry-grown Barossa vineyards (many over 80 years old) often cropped at below 1.5 tonnes per acre. They are scattered throughout the Barossa floor from Williamstown in the south to Ebenezer in the north. The combination of sub-regional and varietal nuances brings complexity to all the wines.
Charles Melton’s wines are moderate performers on the secondary market attracting solid market demand. It is unlikely that Charlie Melton will follow the Viognier trend, “I enjoy that variety as much as other people enjoy beetroot.” A few quirky wines have also been released including a Clare Valley Barossa Shiraz called The Father in Law and Rose of Virginia, a very successful commercial rosé named after Charlie’s wife. Charles Melton is a gem of the modern Barossa wine trade.
Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's