Meet The Iberians

What’s the fascination with Portuguese varieties? Do we have Portuguese heritage? I am often asked this in cellar door and I always enjoy sharing our story. My dad, Chris Killeen, loved Portuguese Port, and he took great pleasure in collecting and sharing really good examples of this wine style. I am told that he was very generous with his passion for Vintage Port and people always knew they were in for a treat if they were at the same food and wine dinner with Dad.

Stanton & Killeen have always made a Vintage Fortified (only Vintage Port made in Portugal is able to use this title) however it was in the traditional Australian style of producing a sweet, fruit-forward, high spirit fortified wine made from Durif and/or Shiraz. Dad loved the drier, more savoury style of Port that came from varieties such as Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Touriga Nacional. He thought that by combining our beloved Shiraz and Durif with these varieties, he could achieve his own unique take on the style.

We were lucky to have some old Touriga Nacional already in the vineyard. This was joined by a range of red varieties in 1992. Each variety offers a special element, and the marriage of these varieties creates the ultimate blend. For example:

· Tinto Cão provides excellent acidity but can lack fruit weight if made on its own, it helps with longevity to a Vintage Fortified

· Touriga Nacional has the most beautiful aromatics and has been described as “the Pinot Noir of warm climates”

· Tinta Roriz, also known as Tempranillo in Spain, provides flavour and fruit depth and is a very versatile variety (if not a little temperamental in the vineyard!)

· Tinta Barroca has soft tannins and is our favourite one to use in barrel-aged tawnys (but also stars in our Rosé), it’s generally a component that “fills in the gaps”

· Souzão has a powerful tannin and acid structure with a very dark colour profile, a little goes a long way in a blend

Although originally planted for stylistic reasons, one of the great unexpected advantages is how well these Portuguese varieties are handling global warming. Having originated in the dry Iberian Peninsula, the climate of Rutherglen shares many similarities. We notice they bounce back really well after a heat wave and continue to hold their acid and flavour during challenging summers. We get amazing intensity of fruit which makes them perfect for Vintage Fortified and our reserve table wine, The Prince Iberian Blend. This wine was named in honour of Chris who amongst his peers in the industry was considered “The Prince of Port”. Every year the blend of the Vintage Fortified and The Prince is different based on what the season offers.

During Chris’ lifetime, he only ever used these varieties for his famous Vintage Fortifieds. After he passed away in 2007, we started to experiment with them in table wines. Over the years, we have discovered the strengths and weaknesses of each variety and matched them to their best wine style. Now our challenge is to spread the varieties between our different products – Tinta Roriz/Tempranillo for example goes into 8 different S&K wines!

We planted white varieties Arinto and Alvarinho in 2015 after experiencing the success of the red wines, and we are the first Australian winery to commercially plant Antão Vaz in 2020. I am so excited to see how Antão Vaz performs – we’ve been told it could make an excellent white sparkling.

If you’re not already a long-time fan of S&K’s Iberian-inspired wines, we have created the following discovery packs to showcase the pick of the bunch. These wine packs and more are available for purchase on our website and at our cellar door.

IBERIAN PACK: $180
2 x 2021 Arinto, 1 x 2021 Alvarinho, 2 x 2021 Tempranillo, 1 x Terra Mae.

PRINCE PACK: $200
2x 2015 Prince Reserva, 2x 2016 Prince Reserva and 2x 2017 Prince Reserva.