Winery Review  by Brent Lello

It has been a long, hard, wet winter in the Yass Valley region, and it doesn’t look like it’s over just yet. But the wattle blooms are blossoming, and along with it, the enthusiasm and anticipation in our region’s wineries for the growing season ahead. It would be an understatement to say that our region’s grape growers and winemakers have had a tough run of it in the last few seasons. They need a great growing year to get back on track.

On a cold, wet, windy Sunday afternoon, I spent some time with the warmly welcoming owners and winemakers at McKellar Ridge Wines – John & Marina. The attention to detail they apply to all aspects of the vineyard, winery, and cellar door leaves anyone who visits them in no doubt that their focus is firmly set on quality and a sense of place and time.

Winemakers Marina and John Sekoranja at their McKellar Ridge Wines cellar door in Murrumbateman, which boasts a 5-star Halliday rating.

Over the course of the tasting of their wares, they discuss with passion and enthusiasm their plans for becoming a more environmentally holistic and sustainable operation. Getting back to the basics of the natural environment in the vineyard is a key theme, including the application of natural fertilisers, symbiotic plant growth, and the vineyard grazing by adorable ‘baby doll’ sheep to keep the weeds at bay.

They also discuss the little ‘discoveries’ they have made in the winery that have turned very good wines into great ones. John and Marina are willing to wave the magical wine wand to experiment and push the boundaries of winemaking trends and techniques to deliver that ‘next level’ wine experience for their customers.

McKellar Ridge – John & Marina celebrate the end of a harvest

To sit down with them and be guided through their range of wine wares is a compelling and rewarding experience. Here is what we tried:

Reserve Riesling 2021 – immensely perfumed with fragrant citrus blossom aromas, lemon and lime juice flavours with loads of zesty acidity.

Chardonnay 2021- aromas of freshly cut nectarines and vanilla poached peaches. The palate is luscious and vibrant with stone fruit flavours and a silky smooth and lingering finish.

Merlot 2021 – aromas of bright red cherry and plums with crushed cloves lead to fulfilling bright red fruit flavours.

Tempranillo 2021 – vibrant plum and raspberry aromas with a hint of cigar box. Mouth-filling red fruit flavours with a dry, food-friendly finish.

Trio (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) 2019 – blackcurrant, blueberry and cherry aromas with hints of cool climate spice, including cloves and a lovely lick of liquorice, leading to a long and lingering finish.

Shiraz 2021 – true varietal cool climate aromas of blackberry, plum and chocolate coated cherries with a shake of white pepper and star anise.

Shiraz Viognier 2021 – fragrant red blossom bouquet with aromas of blackberry and red cherry with luscious, mouth-filling fruit flavours and a creamy richness across the palate.

We were kindly invited to take a sneak peek into the near future with a taste of their 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon and Hilltops Shiraz, straight from the barrel. The Cabernet is simply superb, a quality expression of cool climate Cabernet – elegant yet powerful. The Hilltops Shiraz is a wonderful wine, too, with ripe fruit flavours and a richly plush palate. These wines are set to be available for punters to enjoy early in the new year. Watch out for them; they will be first-class editions to their already impressive stable of wines.

McKellar Ridge- John gives Brent a sneak peek and taste of 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon & Hilltops Shiraz, straight from the barrel.

We are lucky in the Yass Valley region to have many energetic, passionate, enthusiastic wine producers.

John and Marina at McKellar Ridge Wines have these traits by the barrel load. Call into their cellar door, be warmly welcomed, and enjoy the McKellar Ridge wine experience – you’ll be very glad you did.