Seppelt is one of Australia’s oldest wineries, with the original idea and foundations for the brand being laid in 1851 when Joseph Seppelt established Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley. Seppeltsfield eventually expanded to purchase Best’s Great Western winery in Victoria, which was founded by Joseph Best in 1865. It was Best who paid the local gold miners to dig the 3 kilometres of underground tunnels, known as the Drives, which became the cellars for the winery. Eventually Best’s Great Western winery was sold to Ballarat local Hans Irvine, who employed Frenchman Charles Pierlot and began the heritage of Seppelt’s sparkling wines. Those wines, labelled under the Great Western badge, became known Australia wide, and Seppelt became Australia’s leading producer of sparkling wine for the first 70 odd years of the 20th century.
In 1918 Benno Seppelt, the son of Joseph, took ownership of the winery. It was under Benno’s guiding hand that Seppelt starting to really pop up on everyone’s radar, not only keeping that tradition of outstanding sparkling wines, but also exceptional table wines. For red wine drinkers, its greatest era began in 1923 when Colin Preece, fresh out of Roseworthy College, joined as assistant winemaker, taking the reins as Head Winemaker in 1932. Colin pursued his vision of creating outstanding red, white and sparkling wines over the next 30plus years. Most of his red wines borrowed a lot of inspiration from French techniques, blending regions, blending varieties and vintages, with the final blend being determined at time of bottling.
The Seppelt family maintained ownership of Seppeltsfield and Seppelt till 1985, when they sold of the Great Western, which over the ensuing years has become part of the giant corporation that is Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), with Seppeltsfield returning to private ownership in 2007. TWE recently closed the wine making facilities at the Seppelt winery but have decided to keep the cellardoor and the historic Drives open. Head Winemaker Adam Carnaby, who took over in 2011, now creates the outstanding Seppelt wines from Barossa facilities, going to great lengths to uphold the standards that the Seppelt label started over 150 years ago. The fruit is still sourced from famous estate vineyards such as St. Peters and Drumborg, with further estate vineyards in Victoria’s Grampians region, Mount Ida in Heathcote, in fact the Seppelt vineyards are spread over nearly 400 kilometres from Drumborg to Heathcote, and a plethora of growers in Bendigo and the Grampians that supply the quality fruit to Seppelt.
For me it’s Seppelt’s Foundation range that give some of the best bang for buck. Carnaby has created wines that show elegance and quality that are still in a price range most of us can afford, cool climate spicy reds that are dark and jammed full of plums and oak, and whites that are lively with citrus and stone fruit characters. Magnificent wines that will reward long term cellaring.
A few to look for:
Seppelt Jaluka Chardonnay 2015 – a great example of the current lighter, learner low alcohol version of chard that’s been hitting our shelves over the last few years. Hailing from Seppelt’s Drumborg vineyard, this shows great tangy citrus and green apple flavours, with sweet spices, nectarine, straw, honeydew melon, perhaps even honey notes, all in the background. They combine to make a fantastic, world class wine. RRP $27 but available online for around $15 and will reward mid-term aging.
Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz 2014 – this is always such an under-rated wine, and this vintage is such a great release. The fruit depth is fantastic, savoury and peppery with dark berried fruit and cloves, awesome tannin structure and spice. Its intense with great power and length. Awesome value for money here with a wine that will age perfectly till around 2030, and can be found for much under its $27 RRP also around $15 online.
Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2015 – I love the Drumborg Rieslings with their premium quality, cool climate fruits, they always knock out world class wines, make no mistake Drumborg is one of Australia’s great Riesling vineyards. The wine itself shows classy lemon/lime aromatics. It’s light and fine, zippy and tangy with that lemon/lime and slate on the tongue with a fine chalky finish. It’s a superb wine. RRP $35.
Seppelt Drumborg Pinot Noir 2014 – it’s funny how a wine can appear to you in the glass, this one showed itself as classy but with a confidence about itself, almost a “yeah I know I just how good I am”, and its right. It’s not a rakish swagger but a self-assured, polished complex wine. It shows spice, cherries, plums and herbs with light smokiness from the oak. Bloody great wine this. RRP $45.