Welcome Charles Melton

The gen-X among us will recognise Melton for his ground-breaking play on the Châteauneuf-du-Pape style, which he cheekily named ‘Nine Popes’. For the rest of you, his 1988 Nine Popes was actually the very first GSM made in the Barossa Valley, a region which is now renowned for this blend. The New York Times credits him with single-handedly saving Grenache in the Barossa, and it’s true. In the 1980s, when others were pulling these out to plant white varieties, Charlie convinced growers to retain their historic vineyards. Considering South Australia’s luck avoiding phylloxera, this has meant that the region now has the world’s oldest wine-producing Grenache vines, all growing in the astounding soils of the Barossa, which vary from shattered ironstones, red-yellow loams over clay and pure white sands – and generally a set of terroirs just perfect for this variety. It would have been a tragedy not to have these wines, and this is where the 1980s were headed before Charlie stepped in. 

The Nine Popes still exists, along with some luscious pure Shiraz and Cabernet, some blends of each and his famous Rose of Virginia (the rose-not-a-rose wine with so much depth and complexity it’s always caused a double-take in the drinker). Charlie is now joined in the cellar by his daughter Sophie, who gives her name to a contemporary range, the Domaine Sophie Claire wines and the only white, an intense and classically styled Eden/Adelaide Hills Riesling.