Exploring winemakers’ Scottish heritage

The Willson girls tasting Bremerton wines.

The Willson girls tasting Bremerton wines. - Credit: Archant

It’s Burns Night next week and normally I would be writing about winter warming wines that are great to match with haggis. This year is no exception as Bremerton Wines in Langhorn Creek in Australia produce fantastic spicy peppery wines from Shiraz & Cabernet etc and I have chosen to focus on them this year. Another reason is the wine they named Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz to reflect their Scottish heritage.

Bec and Lucy Willson of Bremerton Wines.

Bec and Lucy Willson of Bremerton Wines. - Credit: Archant

Much has been said over the last few years about women in wine and in the past much surprise was expressed when people became aware that Bremerton is run by the two Willson sisters: Rebecca and Lucy (pictured).

They’re making a great job of it too winning many awards along the way. The Bremerton winery is now run by Rebecca who heads up the winemaking team and Lucy who is responsible for the marketing and sales of the company and their wines. Rebecca was nominated for Young Winemaker of the Year in Australia a few years ago.

The company was set up in 1985 by the sisters’ parents, Craig and Mignonne Willson who chose the Langhorne Creek area based on its long-established reputation for producing very good quality grapes dating back to the mid-19th century.

Their land was originally an alfalfa farm and the first vines were planted in 1991 and they now have 290 acres of their own vineyards in Langhorn Creek and grow premium varieties include predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, together with Petit Verdot, Malbec, Tempranillo and white grapes such as Verdelho, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from which they make up to 18 wines though they’re not all available in the UK.

Bremerton wines.

Bremerton wines. - Credit: Archant

Production is mostly red wines that are rich, spicy, full bodied and very well balanced and they use quality French and American oak barrel for aging the wines and some fermentation in the purpose-built barrel cellar.

In the winery they use traditional stainless steel open top fermenters and have their own new laboratory and tasting facilities there too.

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The Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz has a silky, complex, deep briary berry fruits on the aroma and palate which make it ideal with haggis, neeps & tatties that are the main course of most Burns Night Suppers. The name ‘Selkirk’ is in recognition of their grandfather’s heritage as he grew up in this Scottish border town. After fermenting in small open top fermenters, the wine spent up to eighteen months in selected new and older fine grain American oak. The final wine was made from barrels that were selected for their balance of varietal fruit character, oak complexity and lingering flavour.

Another Bremerton wine that is a Burns Night special is the Tamblyn which is a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot and Malbec all of which add character, fruit and structure to this complex vibrant wine that ages well in French and American oak barrels and subsequently in barrel.

Bremerton wines are consistently good and the business is a great example of a family owned and run company. It’ll be interesting to see whether Rebecca’s and Lucy’s children pick up the mantle to continue and develop the Bremerton wines brand as they have done.