When Dave and Diana Palmer left the UK, it was supposed to be a three-year stint in Papua New Guinea, where Dave had found a job. Six years later, work took them to Canberra until, three years further on, Dave resigned to set up his own business. By this point, Skillogalee had already entered their lives, mainly because they’d drunk plenty of it with the eldest son of the owners, and sold it at a festival. Then they heard that the winery was up for sale…so naturally they sold the house and the sports car, packed up the kids and the cat, and moved to South Australia.
What drew them to this small corner of the Clare Valley? Beyond the wines, it was possibly the mature, established vineyards, beautifully contoured and equipped to produce everything from aromatic Riesling and Gewürztraminer to full-flavoured Cabernet and Shiraz, plus lusciously sweet liqueur Muscat. But they were following in earlier English footsteps too. Skillogalee was given its name by Lancashire-born explorer John Horrocks after a troubled expedition into the Flinders Ranges when skillogalee – a Celtic name for a thin gruel – was all they had left to eat. Meanwhile, Trevarrick – Skillogalee’s finest Riesling – comes from the property’s original name, Trevarrick Farm, given to it in 1851 by Cornish miner John Trestrail – who built the stone cottage which still serves as Skillogalee’s cellar door.
Premium Shiraz grapes were carefully harvested for this wine, from low yielding, dry grown vines, on the slopes around the Skillogalee Homestead, standing at approximately 450m above sea level.
The fruit was vinified in open fermenters, then gently basket-pressed to create a wine that is fruit driven and concentrated with velvety tannins, needing no fining. Maturation in a combination of French and American oak hogsheads - for 18-24 months - as added considerably to the wine's character, balance and complexity. The wine will cellar well for at least 10 years but, for those without that kind of patience, enjoy sooner with red or game meats, rich pasta dishes and fantastic company.
There is a pronounced earthiness to this wine. Aromas of blue fruits, leather and tobacco on the nose, segue into a myriad of flavours on the palate, including plum, blackberry, spearmint and dark chocolate, all solidly conveyed atop a smoky persistence. The palate is bold, fleshy and yet medium-bodied.