Vino vet crafts a classy red

THE name Black George Wines fills my vexillologist imagination with images of the jolly roger flying over a vineyard of coarse, full-bodied reds and barrels brimming with rough and ready fortified wines.

The reality is quite the opposite.

Black George Wines are a picture of refined elegance and delicate fruit – almost as if a fairy’s wand had been waved over the Pemberton vineyard.

It is just off the South West Highway between Pemberton and Manjimup.

If wines had a gender, this range would be feminine. Certainly the winemaker Dr Shelly Wilson is.

She runs a busy veterinarian clinic by day and moonlights as the Black George winemaker.

This winemaking vet put a locum in her clinic to earn a oenology degree at the University of Adelaide when the patriarch of the family decided late in life to plant a vineyard.

But there is a lot more to the charming Black George story. In the background lurks the father of the tribe, Douglas Wilson, AM, who nurtures a sharp business brain honed over 16 years as manager of the Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.

Armed with a smart prospectus and an Australian Tax Office product ruling, he invited investors to put $15 million into the vineyard and winery called the Black George Warren River Project No.1.

These table wines have come a long way since I first tasted their earliest products. Now 10 years on, the unirrigated vines are providing mature, delightful fruit.

The zesty verdelho in the current Black George vintage has nine grams of natural sugar to woo the sweet-toothed cellar door visitor.

It is a little sweet for my taste but the crisp acids keep the sweetness under control.

Its natural spiciness makes for a wonderful drink which would complement seafood, spicy Asian food and in particular floral Thai cuisine. It retails for $19.90.

The 1999 vintage Black George pinot noir is a delightfully weighted red of elegance and classy charm.

Pinot noir is a stand out from the region and the wine has been helped by having some while-bunch, carbonic maceration during the vinification.

This process helps build fruit and colour intensity and the results have been very successful.

Of course, the strawberry-garden nose expected of pinot come to you up front accompanied by a dusty, smoked character. Superb, spiced, zesty fruit balances perfectly with the new and aged French oak and gentle tannins.

It’s a beaut, savour-me-now wine that would sit well with a rack of lamb, eaten al fresco in the spring sunshine.

You will buy it for just under $27.

For more information, their website is

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