Riesling in the Duck nest

SUCCESSFUL GIG: Liam and David Anderson in the Wild Duck Creek Estate barrel cellar.
SUCCESSFUL GIG: Liam and David Anderson in the Wild Duck Creek Estate barrel cellar.

IN his younger days Heathcote winemaker David Anderson, who revels in the nickname ‘The Duck’, played the drums in a rhythm and blues band called The Mallards.

Now, with Wild Duck Creek Estate producing its first riesling in the 2017 vintage, his quirky sense of humour led David to call it The Mallard. Made from grapes from a vineyard near the township of Tooborac, it’s among some impressive new wines David recently brought to Newcastle for me to sample.

It’s something he’s been doing since 1993 when he burst into my Newcastle Herald office insisting I try a bottle of his 1990 cabernet. 

The irrepressible former Melbournian holds a Bachelor of Education degree, was a sometime portrait painter, fencing contractor, farmhand, vineyard worker and winery hand, when in 1980 he began planting a vineyard on Wild Duck Creek, west of Heathcote.

Today it is a partnership between David and his winemaker son Liam and the new releases include the 2015 Yellow Hammer Hill Shiraz-Malbec ($30), 2015 Ducks and Drake Cabernet Sauvignon ($40), 2015 Alan’s Cabernet ($65), 2015 Springflat Shiraz ($59), 2015 Shiraz Reserve ($115), 2015 The Dabbler Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere ($35) and the $75 Sparking Duck 8. 

And, most importantly, there’s a $355-a-bottle 2015 Duck Muck. It's a sumptuous, 16.4 per cent alcohol blend of 75 per cent shiraz and 25 per cent cabernet sauvignon pressings. Duck Muck gained cult status when the 1997 was awarded 99 out of 100 by US wine guru Robert Parker – prompting single bottles to fetch up to $A3900 in US auctions and up to $1400 in Australia.

David Anderson’s great mate, Valentine resident and retired Newcastle University economics and commerce lecturer David McKee, instigated the first Duck Muck in 1994 after he discovered two rows of shiraz vines unpicked and massively ripe. He insisted the grapes be harvested and when the wine was stored in an American oak barrique, he chalked a message on the end: “Duck Muck - not to be touched without the approval of the cellar hand”. Initially Duck Mucks were given free to David Anderson’s friends and good customers. The wines have been made in 1994, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2015.

Those wanting Wild Duck Creek wines must subscribe at wildduckcreekestate.com.au and, in the manner of the Bordeaux en primeur system, apply for an allocation from releases each June. Purchases and tastings of wines not allocated to subscribers can be arranged by phoning 03 5433 3133.