Red wines with an edge! Since 1996 owner/vigneron Peter Dredge has been making powerful yet elegant wines from one of the oldest vineyards in arguably the most famed Shiraz area in Australia, Heathcote.
Heathcote is located in the centre of Victoria, Australia’s southern most mainland state, approximately 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. The climate is continental, with warm to hot and generally (very) dry summers, and cool and (sometimes) wet winters. The normally cold nights of Autumn help in the retention of natural acidity as the grapes ripen (important in the winemaking process), and the dry Summer/Autumn climate ensures healthy grapes naturally free of disease.
The vineyards are located on a slope overlooking the town of Heathcote, with a north easterly aspect at an altitude of 260 metres. Eucalypt forests border the vineyard on two sides.
Planted in 1971, the original 2 hectares of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines grow on a strip of 500 million year old Cambrian soil- some of the oldest earth on the face of the planet. It’s glorious, vibrantly red, deep, free-draining, mineral rich, eminently favourable to the vine, particularly Shiraz. Further plantings on adjacent blocks have expanded to 14 hectares with some other classic European varieties. The vines are all dry grown with yields of less than 2.5 tonnes per hectare. Individual vineyard wines are made from estate grown fruit only. The vineyards are hand pruned, hand picked, and the wines hand made on site in our dedicated winery.
The wines are made with minimal intervention, allowing the wine to proceed through its natural course, making sure it reflects the full expression of terroir, and as such the wines reflect both a place and a time. Partial whole bunch maceration, wild yeast fermentation, hand plunging in small open top fermenters, basket pressing, partial barrel fermentation, racking by gravity, and no fining or filtration, are all very traditional artisan winemaking strategies employed.
After picking in mid Autumn, natural fermentation on skins takes generally 7 to 14 days, after which the must is pressed directly to small oak barrels. The new wine matures in these same barrels for 8 months where it undergoes a natural secondary fermentation, after which time it is racked into clean barrels in late Spring, for a further period of barrel aging. The wines are racked again a couple of times to enhance clarity, before being bottled after 12 months. These techniques continue and build upon our philosophy of creating wines that reflect the unique Cambrian soil, aspect and climate of Heathcote, wines from a single vineyard in a premium area to equal the best of their type in the world.
James Halliday Wine Companion rated Red Edge a 5 star winery (giving the 2004 RE Shiraz 96 points) for a number of years until the 2005 wines, which he didn’t like so much and downgraded us to 41/2 stars.
2009 edition of Wine Companion: 2006 Shiraz 94 points, 2006 Degree 91 points.
Campbell Mattinson reviewed the 2006 Red Edge Shiraz, July 2008:
“Excellent wine. Pure and focussed. Indeed, it’s the kind of red that reaches to all corners of your mouth- by virtue of its tannin and flavour and balance, rather than by its out-and-out richness. There’s a strike of eucalypt and lots of earthen, blackberried, clovey fruit flavour, its shirt of cedary oak slimline and unobtrusive. This is a beautiful red wine. 94 points.
In Wine Spectator, Robert Parker scored the 2000 Red Edge Shiraz 93+ points, saying ”this unfined, unfiltered, inky blue/purple-coloured 2000 is extremely unevolved and monolithic, but wow, what potential! It is the most impressive Shiraz I have tasted from the Heathcote appellation……it boasts incredible density and concentration, great potential complexity as well as longevity, and a fabulous texture and finish. Still young, it needs another 3-4 years to sort itself out.”
Max Allen Wine International (Oct 2004) The Shiraz from Peter Dredge’s mature Red Edge vineyard is one of the best in Heathcote: firm, bold, crammed with flavour and indulgent, like the best dark, bitter chocolate. The first release from the newer Jackson’s Vineyard is quite different: floral, lighter, spicy, not unlike a young Crozes-Hermitage.
I love these words (above) from Ralph Kyte-Powell in his Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide, a review I could not leave out!