Sevenhill ‘Brother John May’ Reserve Shiraz
Brother John May, the head of the winery and longtime Jesuit winemaker, has personally selected this Shiraz as being the finest red wine made at Sevenhill.
The fruit for the Reserve Release was hand-picked from a single block, carefully selected because of its consistency in producing high-quality Shiraz from low-yielding, old vines. Dedicated craft winemaking including hand plunging in open slate fermenters and basket pressing back up the premium quality of this wine. Aged 18-20 months in new French oak, the wine spent three years in bottle before its release.
The wine honours the stellar winemaking career of Sevenhill’s Jesuit Winemaker Emeritus, Brother John May, SJ, who, in 2015, experienced his 52nd vintage in the Clare Valley. The fruit for the Reserve Release is picked from a single block, recognised for producing high quality Shiraz from low-yielding vines that were planted by Brother May in his very early days at Sevenhill.
A rich, deeply coloured wine revealing cigar-box aromas and concentrated blackberry fruit with a hint of dark chocolate, mint and eucalyptus. Long, fine tannins carry the finish. A long-lived wine worthy of the notable career of Sevenhill’s Jesuit Winemaker Emeritus, Brother John May.
About the Producer
Sevenhill Cellars was the first winery to be established in the Clare Valley, In 1851 a small number of Austrian immigrants purchased 100 acres of land, naming it Sevenhills after the seven hills of Rome. The first grapes grown by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in the community provided sacremental wine and began a long tradition of winemaking. Sevenhills is the only remaining Jesuit-owned winery in Australia the wines supports their Missions charitable work.
The underground cellar was excavated by hand and the winery constructed from the slate stone quarried from nearby, which is also used to build other notable landmarks – St Aloysius’ Church and the College. Sevenhills 72ha of vineyards are planted with 20 grape varieties, the average age of the vines is 75 years. The altitude of 400m ensures cool nights during the hot summer months, critical to the rich and concentrated ripening of the fruit. With a committment to low yields Sevenhill is highly regarded for its premium wines and the regional qualities that have put the Clare Valley on the world stage.
There have been seven Jesuit winemakers at Sevenhill, the most recent of whom is Brother John May who still works closely with the current winemaking team. Due to the shortage of Jesuits, the winery had to advertise for its first lay winemaker and Liz Heidenreich became the first non Jesuit winemaker in 2006 She is also the first professionally trained winemaker at Sevenhill, a nice counterpoint to Brother May, now in his 80s, being one of the longest serving untrained winemakers in the land. Liz has also been winemaker for Sir Cliff Richard and his Vida Nova wine label in Portugal, joking “I tell people one of my bosses is the Pope and the other is Cliff Richard.”