Dinner With Kim Longbottom & Renae Hirsch of Henry's Drive

Last week I had the opportunity to have dinner with Kim Longbottom and Renae Hirsch of Henry's Drive. This Padthaway Australia producer has a vast repertoire of wines; some appropriate for everyday drinking and others for special occasions, gift giving or cellaring. I'd met Renae last year (read that report here) and at the time she had only been on the job a short while. WithParsons_Flat_Bottle_big this followup meeting I was looking forward to learning how things had progressed for her at Henry's Drive. And of course I was also happy to be meeting proprietor Kim Longbottom. The first two wines we tasted were both Chardonnay based. First up was The Postmistress Blanc de Blanc. This sparkling wine is 100% Chardonnay and when it makes it to the US sometime in 2010 it will retail for $19.99. I found this to be a tasty lighter style of sparkling wine, one I'd consume with Brunch foods perhaps. The second wine was Morse Code Chardonnay. This is one of two varietal entries that will be part of the under $10 tier for Henry's Drive. It's fair to think of it and the Morse Code Shiraz as single varietal counterparts to the two Pillar Box wines. I really enjoyed the clean, fresh, fruit forward style of this 2009 Chardonnay. For a suggested retail of $8.99, this will make a solid choice for everyday drinking when it's released here in the next month or so.

Pillar Box Red is the first wine from Henry's Drive I became aware of several years back. I find that it's been a consistent offering in the value category and also a popular one. In speaking to Renae she indicated that a wine like Pillar Box Red which many people drink and are aware of is one of the selections she feels a bit more pressure in producing since it's had a longstanding reputation that preceded her becoming winemaker. No question to me that she's achieved her goal as the overall quality of this wine and its flavor profile have remained true to the course.

Two wines stood out as overall favorites for me. The Trial of John Montford was one. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) and Cabernet Franc (10%), leads with a big nose of leather, berry and vanilla. Cherry and earth are amongst the dominat notes through the palate and they lead to a lengthy and layered finish. This 2007 selection has a suggested retail price of $29.99. While I think it's quite tasty now, a few years in the cellar will really help it come together into an even nicer package.

The 2007 Dead Letter Office Shiraz was my other favorite of the evening. This selection blends Shiraz from McLaren Vale (67%) in with the Padthaway (33%) fruit. Of the higher end reds in the Henry's Drive portfolio this is the wine that evolved the most dramatically in the glass throughout the evening. The combination of fruit from two sources lends itself to creating a very balanced Shiraz with a multitude of layers. The suggested retail price on this wine is $26.99

In all we went through 10 selections. Beside the wines already mentioned we tasted Pillar Box Reserve, Henry's Drive Shiraz, Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz, and the Parson's Flat Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. In speaking with Kim throughout the evening it was clear that the goal is to create full flavored wines with balance. This is a goal that in my opinion they're reaching. Certainly I have my favorites as I indicated above, but the house style in general is one that I have an overall fondness for. This is an Australian producer I gladly recommend; regardless of your wine budget there are Henry's Drive offerings you can find room for.

One of the other pleasures of meeting Kim was getting to hear details I wasn't familiar with about their use of Postal Service terms, names and legends for their wines. Having a story is one thing, but when it's backed by historical fact and reality it adds something to the intrigue of a bottle of wine.

By all means if you have the unique opportunity to spend some time, and taste wine, with these charming ladies I highly recommend it. Some even say they're a couple of Saucy Aussies.

Imported by Quintessential Wines.

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