I spoke to Chad Elson, who runs the marketing department at Seppeltsfield in South Australia’s beautiful Barossa Valley.
I couldn’t think of a better place to winter than the cellar door at Seppeltsfield. The range of winter drinking that they can provide with their extraordinary fortifieds is magnificent. Since winter is on the doorstep I rang to catch up on Seppelt’s news and to gain a reappraisal of their product.
Seppeltsfield is an iconic Barossa winery. Built in 1851, just 15 years after the founding of South Australia. At its inception it was a cutting-edge winery and one of the largest in the world. Established by Joseph and Johanna Seppelt the winery from the outset specialised in fortified production. The fully restored winery is well worth a visit, if only for the magnificent avenue of palm trees established under Benno Seppelt in the 1890s. This was established as a work program for the local workers during the disastrous depression of the time.
Fiona Donald, a winner of the Barossa Winemaker of the Year in 2012 for her work in improving the range of table wines, is now in charge of all Seppelt’s fortifieds. The Para tawny range (named for the river running through the valley) are probably their best known products and a great example is the Para Grand Tawny 10 Year Old (750 ml, $35). This tawny is a touch richer than most and stronger at 20.5 abv.
The quality of wines such as these are a steal at this price level. Sourced from old grenache, shiraz and mouvedre vines, these wines are aged in small oak casks, improving the concentration. Full bodied, the nutty plum fruit shines through; try this wine in a larger glass to better concentrate the bouquet. Indulge yourself whilst you can; these wines are so affordable, as sales are beginning to spike in Asia and if they take off as expected they will become more difficult to obtain.
Ms Donald also is custodian of Seppeltsfield’s apera styles (used to be known as sherry). Their medium dry Flor DP116 (500 ml, $30) is well worth seeking out. An ideal after dinner fruit platter partner, its savoury marmalade citrus characters also suit spicy soups. Their more dessert style Rich Rare DP38 (500ml, $36) is richer and more aged. An unusual match is with duck (you’ll be amazed!), but Tiramisu is more traditional.
Seppeltsfield for a very long time was part of the wider Seppelts family company. Seppelt’s had a number of operations/locations (think Great Western etc.), buts also had a long history in Rutherglen. Seppeltsfield continues the connection with a Rutherglen Grand Tokay (500 ml, $35). This shows considerable age, with superb olive colour and a honey and toffee nose. A nectar-sweet palate shows intense tea leaf, caramel and butterscotch flavours. Donald has utilised fortifying spirit of serious quality in this product.