Congratulations to the Balnaves family, for whom 2015 marked a quarter of a century of making wine under their own name. As Coonawarra born-and-bred Kirsty Balnaves puts it: “We made it – 25 years and the family are still speaking”. This is also the 20th year of former Qantas Winemaker of the Year Pete Bissell making the wines for the family.
Theirs is a story of faith and faithfulness. They’ve stayed true to the vineyard, to their region, and to each other. They’ve made a succession of wines that bear the ultimate stamp of provenance, and they’ve done so with a thoroughly endearing constancy and humility.
So to mark their milestones, Kirsty Balnaves and Pete Bissell came to Melbourne in October to present every vintage of Balnaves “The Tally” Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to a small gathering of Melbourne’s wine trade and press. It was a tasting to remind one of the great heights that can be scaled when team, terroir and vision are constant and unified in their quest for greatness.
“In an industry obsessed with the latest fad and the newest labels, it’s good to be reminded of the enduring traditions of classic winemaking,” wrote Max Allen of the experience. Campbell Mattinson was also present, and published notes on all 12 vintages (spanning 1998 to the as yet unreleased 2013; the wine is only made in exceptional years) on The Wine Front.
James Halliday also attended the tasting, writing up his observations in The Australian in a piece entitled “Kings of the Coonawarra”. “A vertical tasting of all the (other) vintages between ’98 and ’14 provided a powerful testimony to the extent and quality of the estate plantings of cabernet and Bissell’s sure touch as the creator and defender of the quality of the wine,” he wrote.
Click here to read the rest of Halliday’s ruminations on this great Coonawarra family.