Sevenhill ‘Inigo’ Verdelho
Winemaker Liz Heidenreich has a personal passion for a fresh style of Verdelho, developed during her experience working on vintages in Portugal.
The Clare Valley’s natural climate shares many similarities with parts of Portugal where Verdelho is prominent, areas such as Alento and Algarve where the variety is renowned for its strong regional character. Planted in 1985 from old-vine-sourced material, this classic clone develops distinctive character that is expressive of Sevenhill.
Verdelho is a grape variety that finds perfect maturity and rich flavours when slightly riper and is often picked around 12.5 to 13 Baumé. Liz is drawn to making a much brighter and expressive style that has a lightness in the palate that distinguishes it from heavier-style wines.
Gently pressed, the Verdelho undergoes a long, slow fermentation in stainless steel. This is stopped before complete dryness, which adds balance and weight giving a wine that is fresh and vibrant with a fruit sweetness.
The Inigo range honours St Ignatius, the Jesuits’ founder and features estate grown single varietals. The label’s deep grey colour was chosen to connect with the widely seen local slate – used not just as building materials but for the unique, and irreplaceable, slate vats and fermenters that are perfect for controlling the temperature during the winemaking.
The nose expresses fresh aromas of honey suckle and lemon peel. The palate is rich with tropical fruit flavours, including guava and kiwi fruit.
This wine has increased in complexity with its medium-term ageing.
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.”