MEEREA Park Wines is celebrating this month its 30th anniversary, and with it a 25-year friendship and collaboration with Sydney businessman-turned vigneron and Master of Wine Robin Tedder - who also happens to be entitled to sit in Britain's House of Lords as the third Baron Glenguin.
Since establishing the Wollombi Brook-frontage Glenguin Estate vineyard Broke in 1993, Robin has teamed with Rhys Eather to make all the Glenguin wines.
In Meerea's 30th birthday year Robin's association with owners Rhys and Garth Eather has brought the launch of a scrumptious joint-venture Hunter shiraz called the Eather and Tedder 2019 Great Scot. Crafted by Rhys and Robin from specially selected fruit from the Tedder vines, the wine not only marks Meerea's 30th birthday but the two families' shared, but disparate, Scottish heritage.
Robin Tedder's grandfather was British Air Chief Marshal Arthur William Tedder who was given a peerage for his World War II role as Allied Deputy Supreme Commander to General Eisenhower. He chose the Glenguin name because it was his 1890 birthplace in the County of Stirling and his father was the resident excise man at the town's famous Scotch whisky distillery.
Aged 24, Robin Tedder quit his native Scotland to work in Germany, the US and New Zealand and then settle in Sydney and begin a successful career in stockbroking, merchant banking, property development and in 1997 as a Hunter boutique wine producer.
Alexander Munro, the great, great grandfather of Rhys and Garth Eather, came to Australia from Scotland in 1831 as a 14-year-old convict transported for the theft of 15 shillings and three pence, three pieces of cheese, a pound of snuff and some raisins and lollies from an Inverness grocery. He rose to become a Patrick Plains area pioneer, the first mayor of Singleton and the founder in 1846 of the Bebeah vineyard on a 26-hectare property on the outskirts of Singleton.
Bebeah was at one stage the biggest producer of wine in NSW and it won international awards. Munro was renowned for his good works, giving the town gas lighting by building a gasworks, donating land for Glenridding church and cemetery and the Singleton masonic hall, and playing a major role in establishing the Singleton Grammar School and Hunter River Building Society.
Munro's generosity extended to his homeland after he and his wife visited Scotland in the late 1878 and found four of his relatives "in reduced circumstances". He responded by building them cottages to live in and providing each of them with annuities of 40 pounds a year. After Munro died in 1889 all the shops in Singleton were closed at 1pm to allow townsfolk to attend his funeral.
Without him, the Bebeah wine business ultimately followed other early Hunter vineyards, wineries and brands into oblivion in the early 1900s.
The 20th century, however, revived the Munro wine heritage when Rhys Eather took on Roseworthy College marketing and winemaking degrees and persuaded his father Ian to diversify into winegrowing on his 44-hectare Wambo Road, Bulga, Meerea Park grazing property.
After graduating from Roseworthy, Rhys worked as a "flying winemaker" in Italy and at the Chapoutier winery in France's Rhone Valley, then came home to the Hunter Valley for a three-year stint as assistant to contract winemaker Simon Gilbert.
Using chardonnay grapes from his father's vineyard and with Simon Gilbert's help, Rhys in 1991 made the inaugural Meerea Park Alexander Munro wine at Arrowfield winery.
Over the past 30 years, with Rhys as winemaker and brother Garth as managing director, Meerea Park has thrived by sourcing premium grapes from a stable of top winegrowers in the Hunter and occasionally from Orange and Young.
Now, with the Alexander Munro wines as the flagship, Meerea is recognised as one of the Hunter most exciting and innovative producers, holding a five red star-rating in the James Halliday Wine Companion.
The Eathers this month gathered their friends, staff and supporters together in Newcastle for a 30th anniversary celebration at which they unveiled the Eather and Tedder 2019 Great Scot Shiraz, which will become a regular release in future vintages.
As another anniversary special they have released the Daisy Hill 2019 Hunter Valley Shiraz, reviewed below with the 2019 Great Scot.
The Daisy Hill vineyard was established on Palmers Lane in the 1860s by the Campbell family and had a much-admired red brick winery and cellar. Sadly it and the vineyard were destroyed in the 1969 Pokolbin-Rothbury bushfires.
Happily 1979 saw the Kindred family replant vines at Daisy Hill and they and Meerea Park have collaborated in the Daisy Hill 2019 shiraz.
The Great Scot's label combines elements of Tedder and Eather history. The Tedder side is represented by a coat of arms selected by Air Chief Marshal Tedder that feature ancient Egyptian support figures relating to his war service in the Middle East.
The Eather contribution is a crest symbolising the four facets of Alexander Munro's life - the sailing ship York that brought him to Australia, a convict arrow, a bunch of grapes and the eagle emblem of the Scottish Munro Clan.
The Meerea Park wines are available on meereapark.com.au and the cellar door in the Roche complex on the corner of Broke and McDonalds roads, Pokolbin.
A GREAT SCOT INDEED
GLENGUIN fruit shows its excellence in this Eather and Tedder 2019 Great Scot Shiraz, with its 14%alcohol and enticing deep purple hues and berry pastille and lavender aromas. The front palate has intense plum flavour, middle-palate bramble jelly, cherry, spice, mint chocolate and vanillin oak and earthy tannins at the finish.
DRINK WITH: beef fillet tornedos.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars
MADE from fruit from 40-year-old vines on the Casuarina vineyard in Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin, the Meerea Park 2019 Chardonnay is green-tinted straw and has orange blossom aromas and crisp white peach front-palate flavour. The middle palate introduces fig, nashi pear, flint and cashew oak and slatey acid refreshes at the finish.
DRINK WITH: salad of baby octopus.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 5 stars
BLOOMIN' FINE RETURN
HOW nice to see a return of this historic Hunter name in the Daisy Hill 2019 Shiraz. It has 14% alcohol,bright garnet hues and potpourri scents. The front palate features vibrant blackcurrant flavour, the middle palate mulberry, briar, spearmint and savoury oak and ferric tannins display at the finish.
DRINK WITH: Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with salsa verde.
AGEING: seven years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
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