The name Seabrook Wines will ring a bell for a lot of wine drinkers, or those with long memories at the least, having been part of the Australian wine landscape since 1878 when the family started WJ Seabrook and Son. Since then they have been involved in many forms – wine brokers, wine judges, exporters or negociants (the French term for a wine merchant who uses the fruit of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under their own name).
In 2005 the fifth generation, Hamish Seabrook, decided to revitalise the old Seabrook wine label creating a Shiraz from the Pyrenees region in Victoria. The wine was quite an exciting release, gaining 94 points from Halliday, Hamish then proved it was no fluke by knocking out the 2007, it took the same score but sold out faster than a drug dealer at Charlie Sheen’s house.
Hamish wasn’t always a winemaker, he achieved a Bachelor of Science and worked in the field for a few years before he decided to follow the family into wine, going back to study winemaking at Adelaide Uni. After Hamish graduated in 2001 he took up the role of winemaker at Best’s Wines in Great Western where he was taken under the wing of wine industry legend Viv Thomson. Here Hamish flourished and his many achievements include numerous trophies, medals and Dux of the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2004.
He then moved on to other wineries and positions, such as Senior Winemaker/Winery Manager at Brown Brothers Milawa; learning as much as he possibly could, before (re)launching that Seabrook label as part time winemaking option. In 2008 Hamish and his wife Jo managed found a site at the base of Mengler’s Hill in the Barossa, and where purchasing the fruit under contract, eventually purchasing the site in 2015 and moved their operation there, the fact that it was right next door to his parents in law and provided them a chance to have their children with family was a lure too great to miss.
The 20 acre block is around 30 years old and planted out with Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro and Shiraz, with the in law block growing high end premium Shiraz fruit. In 2016 Hamish decided to concentrate on the Seabrook label fulltime, and left his position as Chief Winemaker at Kirrihill in the Clare Valley.
His range has expanded from that original Victorian Shiraz to now cover wines from his own family vineyards and fruit from contract growers, with each label paying homage to a generation of the Seabrook Wine Industry lineage. “The Merchant” Barossa Valley Shiraz (named after grandfather Douglas Seabrook), “The Chairman” Great Western Shiraz (named after Great Grand Father TC Seabrook), “The Broker” originally a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir now a Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon (named after father Iain Seabrook), and “The Judge” Eden Valley Riesling (named after Hamish’s wife’s grandfather John Marshall).
With Xmas only a matter of weeks away, these wines are definitely worth searching for, or getting a few mates together to grab a couple for the Xmas break. Online or your independent bottleo will be the best options.
Seabrook The Judge Eden Valley Riesling 2017 – pretty. It’s the first word that jumps to mind, it’s a pretty wine. Pretty floral aromas, backed by the pretty and exotic palate. Lemon and grapefruit flavours, slight metallic and flint notes, all wrapped around an acid backbone that makes this sing across the tongue. This will need to be either had as a young wine, or left to age, it will be a little awkward in those in-between years. RRP $23.
Seabrook The Merchant Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 – we tried two vintages here, the 2010 and the 2012, with the 2010 being slightly better in our FNQ climate, and it’s still the same price as the younger 2012 too. Medium bodied, the oak is in balance with the tannin structure and fruit, which is choc full of blackberry, chewy liquorice and woody spice notes. RRP $35
Seabrook The Broker Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2015 – Touches of coconutty oak, earthy and savoury, light and easy across the tongue, very light touch of green capsicum from the cabernet, interesting spicy notes from the shiraz. Soft and easy finish, light tannin structure which will work well up here in the heat. An interesting wine that split the tasting group, I thought it was certainly drinkable, others loved it and wanted to know where to buy it.