HAMISH Seabrook’s approach helps the ripening process and enhances the flavours that end up in the bottle. Something is working because his latest releases are replete with pure fruit flavours
Hamish Seabrook drives around his Barossa Valley vineyard in a David Brown 885 open-aired tractor two years older than him. Seabrook, 44, says the tractor is lighter than the modern monsters that churn the good earth and then compact it.
He is an environmentally conscious winemaker with a “minimalist” philosophy. Less intervention benefits worms and the burrowing insects in the vines’ root zones, he says. And the good bacteria thrive. What happens in the subterranean biosphere is probably more important than what happens above. “I don’t churn my soils; I have winter weeds and high grass but I keep it under control,” he says.
Seabrook’s approach helps the ripening process and enhances the flavours that end up in the bottle. Something is working because his latest releases are replete with pure fruit flavours. I especially liked the 2017 Seabrook The Judge Eden Valley Riesling ($23), with its gentle jasmine and lime aromatics ahead of a citrusy, mouth-watering palate. The Judge was named after his wife Jo’s grandfather John Marshall, a former Family Court judge.
The 2014 Seabrook The Merchant Barossa Valley Shiraz ($35, pictured) is a statuesque red in the traditional Barossa manner, with blackberry and mulberry fruits and hints of leather and tar. It was named after Hamish’s great, great grandfather Thomas Claudius (T. C.) Seabrook, a wine merchant, judge and educator. T. C. was a teetotaller until he was 32 but soon found his stride.
Latest Seabrook releases include an entry-level Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio and a Langhorne Creek Shiraz (both $20) under the “Lineage” brand. The second tier, “Generations”, has five wines including the The Judge Riesling, The Founder Barossa Valley Mataro ($29), The Broker Barossa Valley Cabernet Shiraz ($29), The Chairman Great Western Shiraz ($33), and The Merchant.
Seabrook’s great-great-great-grandfather William founded the firm in 1878 and imported Champagne and Bordeaux blends. Hamish showed his winemaking skills early. He was dux of the Len Evans Tutorial in 2004 and has worked at Brown Brothers, Best’s Wines Great Western, Dorrien Estate, Barossa Valley Estate and Kirrihill. He and wife Jo have restored an original settler’s cottage and turned it into a cellar door at Light Pass Rd in Vine Vale, in the foothills of the Barossa Valley below Mengler Hill lookout, a local landmark.
Originally published as Light touch creates divine wines