Angove Family Winemakers wines are part of a second wave of Australian wines to wash over the U.S., backed by Napa Valley giant Trinchero Family Estates (TFE). Born of similar values and business models it was a natural for these two family owned wineries to come together. TFE has been importing a limited number of Angove wines from the South Australia winemaker, but that is changing as the lineup expands.
The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Australian Wines
Back in the 1990s Australian wines made their debut and were the darling of the low cost market for a long time. Quirky names and yellow labels were everywhere as Americans lapped up Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc. Then other upstarts from South Africa, South America and non-traditional areas of Europe challenged the low end, and Australia began suffering from a reputation of undifferentiated wines, at the same time that American tastes shifted away from the extremely fruity, highly oaked Shiraz. Fair or not, the fickle public turned away from the land down under and exports suffered. In 2009, as financial markets crumbled, so did the wine industry with imports of Australian wines plunging up to 30% due in part to droughts, wildfires, and a stronger Australian dollar, in addition to changing tastes.
In recent years the Aussie winemakers have regrouped with a renewed focus on quality and distinctive styles and Australian imports are on the rise once more. Wine reviewers are again saying that Australian wines are up and coming. Far from a one trick pony the country that rivals the U.S. in size is also showing that its wines have their own varied personalities. Wine imports to the U.S. from South Australia, anchored by Adelaide and home to the Clare Valley, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale wine regions are up around 7% and the Wine Advocate rated 30 South Australian wines at 95 points or more.
Angove Family Winemakers
The Angove family has a long and storied history in South Australia. William T. Angove, MD emigrated from England to Adelaide in 1886. Like many medical practitioners of his time he provided wine to his patients as a tonic, establishing a vineyard in the process. This quaint practice faded from medicine but Dr. Angove found himself more interested in winemaking than patient care, so he turned his hobby into his business. Future generations passed the baton and though it is sometimes unusual for families to keep the momentum going beyond three generations, the fourth and fifth generations are still firmly entrenched in the family business. Fourth generation John Angove is the Chairman, while his daughter Victoria and son Richard, representing the fifth generation, are on the Board of Directors, as well as being involved in sales and export.
Angove Family Winemakers is a large player in the Australian market, being the 11th largest wine producer and 12th largest exporter. In 2005 Angove entered into a partnership with Trinchero Family Estates, the fifth largest U.S. winery at the time, to distribute their wines in America. Angove had already been participating in the U.S. market through their partnership with Outback Steakhouse, for which they provided the exclusive Little Boomey labeled wines. Both being large wineries, but still being family owned, it was a natural partnership between TFE and Angove Family Winemakers that has flourished. Angove currently produces about 1 million cases of wine per year spread across 12 brands. They grow about half of the grapes they use and source the rest from nearby vineyards, keeping their team of five winemakers busy.
The story of the Angove vineyards is a twisted tale of land use and property rights. When Dr. Angove started his winery he was well away from town, about away. As Adealaide grew the need for housing grew, and ultimately the town swallowed the vineyards. In the 1970s the land was compulsorily acquired by the state government. In a twist of fate they also decreed that the actual winery building had heritage landmark status, thereby limiting the modifications that could be made to the building. The building was ultimately sold and the Angove family has moved on, purchasing other established vineyards and starting over.
Angove Family Winemakers Wines
The Angove wines now distributed in the U.S. includes ten wines. A recent tasting of several of the wines began with an interesting comparison of three versions of Muscat, two sparkling and one still. The Zibibbo (the Sicilian name for Muscat) Sparkling Moscato ($16), pale like traditional sparkling wine, was slightly sweet with very fine effervescence, while the Zibibbo Sparkling Pink Moscato ($14), which derives its color from a splash of Shiraz, tasted of fresh strawberries. Either would be refreshing on a warm summer day. The 2011 Nine Vines Moscato ($10) also has a hint of fizz with a sweetness that would make it a good aperitif or with dessert.
One wine that we can’t get enough of here is Riesling as many vineyards have been replaced with more popular grapes, and the 2008 Clare Valley Riesling ($16) was a fine example of the varietal, being dry and faintly aromatic while tasting of lemony freshness—a perfect accompaniment to spicy, flavorful foods. The 2009 Nine Vine Shiraz ($12) was co-fermented with Viognier, and displayed a smoky, peppery complexity. The 2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($22) displayed the best of the Syrah grape, an outstanding vintage that brought forth a wine rich in plum, cherry and chocolate aromas, with a bit of spice from the American oak it was aged in.
The Angove wines are available at retail locations and through 3rd party retailers at Amazon.com, and most are priced at under $20—a great value for quality wines.
The expanding lineup of Angove Family Winemakers wines demonstrates their commitment to quality and value, and with a range of varietals, labels and price points are sure to enjoy success across the U.S..
Angove Family Winemakers wines can be ordered through Amaazon.com retailers (certain restrictions may apply) and through retail outlets in the U.S..
If you’re visiting South Australia Angove Family Winemakers has two tasting rooms:
Renmark Cellar Door:
Renmark West, South Australia
Cellar Door hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday – Friday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Sunday)
McLaren Vale Cellar Door
117 Chalk Hill Road
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Cellar Door hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily