Vintage Longbottom: A Taste of Persistence

We were recently introduced to the wines of Vintage Longbottom, made by Kim and Margo Longbottom in South Australia, when we received several wines as tasting samples. We opened the two white wines and tasted them without knowing anything about the winery or how they were made. When I went looking for background on the wines and Vintage Longbottom, I discovered a story that at first saddened me and then inspired me.

Kim and Mark Longbottom planted their first vineyards in Padthaway, a part of the Limestone Coast zone, in 1990. They released their first wines in 1998 the same year their daughter Margo was born. Kim and Mark named their winery Henry’s Drive Vignerons as a nod to Henry John Hill who operated a passenger and mail coach through the area in the 19th century.

Kim and Mark operated Henry’s Drive Vignerons together until Mark’s untimely death in 2008, after which Kim continued managing the winery on her own. By 2018 Kim was ready take her winery in a new direction. That’s when Margo joined her mother and their winery was re-christened Vintage Longbottom.

A change of scenery has come with the change in name. Vintage Longbottom is expanding its sourcing of grapes from Padthaway to McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. Both the Henry’s Drive label and the brightly colored H range will remain, but with a shift in the source of grapes. And winemaking has moved to the Adelaide Hills.

2018 Vintage Longbottom H Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills photo
2018 Vintage Longbottom H Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills

2018 Vintage Longbottom H Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills light yellow in the glass with complex aromas of stone fruit, minerals and dried hay. Flavors lead with citrus zest, stone fruit, tart pineapple and juicy acidity. The wine has a bit of roundness in the mouth and a very long finish. 13.1% abv. SRP $39.99

Peter’s first comment on tasting this Sauvignon Blanc was to note its complex aromas. In addition to its complexity I appreciate that it leans away from overtly grassy and gooseberry flavors. Its complexity and mouthfeel make this wine perfect for sipping and pairing with a meal. It was delicious with roasted Petrale sole and Brussels sprouts with bacon.

Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills. 45% of the free-run juice was fermented in-barrel, with lees stirring, and aged for 7 months in 20% new French oak puncheons and 80% two-year-old puncheons.

2018 Vintage Longbottom H Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills photo
2018 Vintage Longbottom H Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills

2018 Vintage Longbottom H Chardonnay, Adelaide Hillslight yellow in the glass with aromas of toast, grapefruit and melon. Flavors of stone fruit, melon and citrus zest are backed by toasty notes and supported by juicy acidity. Love the combination of roundness in the mouth and clean finish. 13.5% abv. SRP $39.99

There is plenty of flavor in this Chardonnay with just a hint of toast for interest. It’s lovely sipping, and just as with the Sauvignon Blanc, this is a brilliant food wine thanks to its roundness and acidity.

Free-run juice was used and fermented in-barrel before being aged for eight months, with lees stirring, in 100% French oak – 25% new puncheons and 75% one and two-year puncheons. Oak aging plays only a supporting role in this brilliant Chardonnay with generous fruit flavors still on full display.

2017 Vintage Longbottom H Syrah, Adelaide Hills/Padthaway photo
2017 Vintage Longbottom H Syrah, Adelaide Hills/Padthaway

2017 Vintage Longbottom H Syrah, Adelaide Hills/Padthawaydark ruby in the glass with plush berry, exotic spices and dried mint aromas. Flavors of ripe blueberries, blackberries combine with baking spices and crushed flower stems. Drying tannins and juicy acidity in a medium body make for a fresh red wine with ripe fruit flavors. 13.5% abv. SRP $39.99

Rather than identifying this wine as Shiraz, as is usual in Australia, it’s labeled Syrah. This wine manages plenty of ripe flavor without overripe or jammy flavors.

The tech sheet informs us that: “Initial fermentation was on the skins for ten days with the inclusion of 10% whole bunches. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation and was matured for a period of 15 months in French oak puncheons and hogsheads – 25% new puncheons and the remaining 75% in a combination of one and two-year-old hogsheads.”

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, Padthaway/McLaren Vale photo
2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, Padthaway/McLaren Vale

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, Padthaway/McLaren Valedark ruby in the glass with aromas of mixed berries. Layered flavors of blackberries, earth and dried alfalfa are supported by fine, well-integrated tannins. 14.3% abv. SRP $59.99

In a word, this wine is elegant. It has plenty of flavor, nothing sticks out and it’s nicely balanced with a pleasing combination of fruit and dried hay flavors. 

The blend is comprised of 72% Shiraz (94% from Padthaway and 6% from McLaren Vale) and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon all from Padthaway. The wine was aged in French oak puncheons and hogsheads, both new and used, for sixteen months.

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz, Padthaway/McLaren Vale photo
2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz, Padthaway/McLaren Vale

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Shiraz, Padthaway/McLaren Valedark ruby in the glass with generous ripe blackberry and raspberry flavors along with earthy bramble. Flavors lead with ripe blackberries, crushed flower stems with earth and leather in the background. Tannins are drying and integrated. 14.8% abv. SRP $ 59.99

This wine is a bit more expressive than the Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It is easy sipping and would pair beautifully with braised meat. Winemaking is similar to the Shiraz/Cabernet blenc, but it is 100% Shiraz sourced from Padthaway (92%) and McLaren Vale. 

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz, Padthaway/Mc Laren Vale photo
2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz, Padthaway/Mc Laren Vale

2017 Vintage Longbottom Henry’s Drive Magnus Shiraz, Padthaway/Mc Laren Valedense ruby in the glass with generous aromas of red fruit, dried mint and cherry cola. Red fruit flavors predominate along with blackberries, dried mint, cocoa and dusty earth. Tannins are a bit grippy but integrated with the flavors in a medium body. 15.1% abv. SRP $79.99

This is the most concentrated wine of the group with plenty of texture to match the rich flavors. It is a wine that begs to be paired with food and a chilly evening. 

Fermentation was started in open-top fermenters, on the skins for three weeks. The wine was transferred to French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aged for 22 months in new, fine-grained, medium-toast puncheons.

Whether you choose wines from the Vintage Longbottom H range (with their modern, colorful labels) or the Henry’s Drive range of wines (gotta love those nostalgic, sepia-toned labels) you should be as pleased with the contents of the bottle as with the artful label and inspired by the persistence of Kim and Margo Longbottom.

Thanks to Quintessential Wines for this delicious introduction to the wines of Vintage Longbottom.

Cheers!

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