ST HALLETT, along with such brands as Hardys, Grant Burge, House of Arras, Petaluma, Houghton and Bay of Fires, is part of the Accolade Wines' Australian empire.
Accolade is our largest wine maker and the world's fifth-largest producer by volume. Now, after a $A1 billion deal a year ago, it is controlled by the US Washington DC-based Carlyle private equity firm.
While tasting my way through a batch of St Hallett new releases, I've also been dipping into the history of this Barossa venture founded by the Lindner family.
In the way of many Barossa pioneers, Johann Lindner, his wife and children fled religious persecution in Germany and settled in the village of Bethany in 1845.
The St Hallett story begins with one of Johann's grandsons, Carl Richard Lindner, who became a Barossa butcher and used to load carcasses onto a horse-drawn cart and drive around the area selling carved-to-order meat. He also got into wine in 1912 when he bought land and planted vines in the Hallett Valley near Tanunda.
Later he added more vineyard and in 1918 converted a butchery into a small winery.
Carl Richard's son Carl Wilhelm gained wine skills working for Orlando and in 1944 took control of the family wine operation, giving it the St Hallett brand name.
Carl Wilhelm's second son, also Carl, took over in 1974 and in the 1980s led St Hallett into a new era of modernised production and marketing after forming a partnership with larger-than-life wine PR man Bob McLean and winemaker Stuart Blackwell.
In 1988 McLean, the big, hearty former hotel bouncer, Adelaide electrician and acclaimed Jacob's Creek wine publicist who revelled in the sobriquet "Sir Lunchalot", became St Hallett managing director and the brand prospered. And it became a takeover target, first to the ASX-listed Banksia Wines Ltdchaired by John Lamb, son of leading Newcastle businessman Hugh Lamb, then to brewer Lion Nathan and in 2017 to Accolade Wines.
St Hallett wines are now made by senior winemaker Toby Barlow, 45, who prizes the focus on shiraz and riesling from old-vine grapes from the Barossa and Eden valleys.
Raised in Sydney, he gained a double degree in chemistry and philosophy before roaming widely overseas and then spending six months setting up a vineyard in Central Victoria's Strathbogie Ranges.
From there he took on a post-graduate oenology course at Adelaide University after which he had stints in the Hunter at First Creek winery and in New Zealand, Oregon in the US and France's Rhone Valley.
RIESLING OF EDEN
THIS delightful St Hallett 2018 Eden Valley Riesling is green-tinted straw and has ginger blossom scents and ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour. The middle palate shows green apple, lime zest and gunmetal elements and a finish of steely acid. It and today's other wines are at sthallett.com.au, the Tanunda cellar and bottle shops.
DRINK WITH: seafood wontons.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
CART-LOAD OF CHEER
NAMED in remembrance of the Lindner butchery days, this lush St Hallett 2017 Butcher's Cart Shiraz has 14.5%-alcohol, deep inky purple hues and fruitcake and rosemary aromas. The front palate features rich, ripe plum flavour, the middle palate cassis, dark chocolate, cinnamon and nutty oak characters and the finish peppery tannins.
DRINK WITH: lamb crown roast.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5 stars
A SPRIGHTLY 13%-alcohol blend of grenache and mataro (aka mourvedre), the St Hallett 2018 Barossa Valley Rosé is pale blush pink and has rose petal scents and crisp strawberry front-palate flavour. The middle palate has peaches and cream, apple peel and mineral characters and the finish slatey acid.
DRINK WITH: tomato tarte tartin with labna and rocket salad.
AGEING: drink now.
RATING: 4 stars