This week we turn the spotlight onto one of our favourite emerging producers from North-East Victoria, Simon Killeen, and his fantastic range of recently released wines.
I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of months working alongside Simon during the sweltering 2016 vintage in Rutherglen. During my stay, I was taken by the infectious passion that this young man has for not just his local wine, but all things Rutherglen and its surrounds.
Simon is the seventh generation of Killeen men to follow the winemaker path. It's not blood, but Rutherglen fortified that pumps through his veins.
The day I arrived he took me on a walking tour of the dilapidated remains of his grandad's old winery. Sat on a gentle slope below his grandparent's house where Simon and his new wife Alice now live, he told me of his plans to restore the old shed as his own. And someday, he will.
Simon stepped away from the family business in 2014 to build something of his own.
Simão & Co. is that something.
His table wines are all about brightness and early drinkability. These are vibrantly packaged, modestly priced wines that show off little pockets of his beloved NE Vic. Bottles of Simão & Co. have found their way into many a trendy wine bar and restaurant over the last couple of years with good reason.
The new releases, predominantly from the affable 2017 season, are impossible not to love. A dead-serious Sauvignon Blanc from the King Valley, delightful Nebbiolo Rosé and swanky Tempranillo from the Alpine Valleys, a Cornas-inspired Shiraz from a 100-year-old dry grown vineyard down the road in Glenrowan are just a few of the highlights.
I dare you to crack any of these and not finish the bottle at light-speed.
But his pride and joy is his Vintage Fortified. While I was there in 2016 I saw first hand the lengths that he will go to endeavoring to make Australia's greatest Vintage Fortified.
His unique approach to crafting it fuses seven generations of handed-down winemaking knowledge with the traditional processes of Portugal's Douro Valley where Simon spends every vintage he can.
His Vintage Fortified is a drier, higher alcohol style, more complex and balanced in its youth. His 2016 looks good for at least 20 years in the cellar. It's his best wine to date, and he knows it.
Vintage Fortifieds may not be exactly in vogue these days, but if there's one guy in the country who can get people excited about this wine style again, it's Killeen.
Check out his wines. Like the man who made them, they exude energy and charm. With one eye on the past and one looking towards the future, he is breathing new life into the wine scene of North-East Victoria.
Shop our full collection of Simão & Co. wines here!