It's funny how sometimes life delivers unexpected pleasures that continue to delight well into the future.
During the first 10 years of our marriage, my gorgeous wife and I celebrated Anniversary Themes for each of our wedding anniversaries, so each Anniversary present would be based upon that years theme and each celebration would also be based upon that same theme.
We sometimes took quite a bit of licence in order to match the theme. For example, our third Anniversary was "Leather" so we packed some of our friends off to Melbourne to have dinner at Flower Drum. Chinese drum skins are made of leather and that was a sufficiently tenuous link to work for us.
The following year was Fruit and Flowers and our Anniversary falls conveniently around the dates for Floriade in Canberra. So I surprised Sam with a trip to Canberra to celebrate Fruit (wineries) and Flowers (Floriade). And on that weekend, we discovered Collector Wines, specifically the Marked Tree Red Shiraz. We have been drinking and recommending Collector Wines since.
Alex McKay, Owner and Winemaker had his first introduction to winemaking at what was later to become Lake George Winery while still at University. What followed was a decade with Hardy's (Constellation) and ultimately a move back to Canberra to manage production at the Kamberra winery.
Hardy's have had a presence in and around the southern wine regions for decades, Canberra, Hilltops and Tumbarumba have all contributed to the top Hardy's wines in the late 90's. Before Tasmania became the hot new place to source fruit for Sparkling Wine, Hardy's sourced most of their Sparkling wines from Tumbarumba.
When Hardy's pulled out in 2005 it created an opportunity for a number of young aspiring winemakers. With Hardy's out of the picture fruit became available from a number of mature vineyards.
Alex was one of these winemakers, no longer with Hardy's he had the freedom to pursue his own wines and already established relaitonships with some of the best growers in the region.
The result? The 2005 Collector Wines Marked Tree Red Shiraz.
Mainly Shiraz but with a small amount Viognier added. At the 2007 Royal Sydney Wine Show, the 2005 Vintage collected (no pun intended) the Trophy for NSW Wine of The Year. No mean feat for your first vintage.
Alex started making a Reserve Shiraz in 2008 which then won four Trophies at Royal Sydney including Best Red Wine of Show. The following year the 2009 vintage of the Marked Tree Red won best Shiraz Viognier.
2016 was to prove the quality of Alex's wines. Both the Canberra Regional Wine Show and the National Wine Show awarded trophies to Collector Wines for Best Red Wine of Provenance.
Best Red Wine of Provenance is judged on 3 vintages presented over a ten year period. For Collector Wines this was the 2005, 2009 and 2015 Marked Tree Red Shiraz (and remember this is his "Second Wine"). It is truly representative of a wine that can deliver over time as opposed to other awards where the one vintage just needs to impress on the day.
For this award, each of the three vintages must be spectacular. It was not a walk in the park either, some of the competition inlcuded the Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz and the Peter Lehman Stonewell Shiraz.
In the meantime Alex has also been producing other excellent wines besides Shiraz only making wine when the quality of fruit is evident.
Over time he has produced a Riesling and a Chardonnay from Tumbarumba and one of the best Marsannes currently on the market...I love Marsanne and think any one who wants to give it a try should try the Collector Lamp Lit Marsanne.
His Shoreline Sangiovese Rosé is a delight, more so because he adds a small amount of Mammalo. Mammalo is a little known variety that lifts Sangiovese and adds a slight musk note to the Rosé. Personally this is one of my favourite Rosés.
But I have a real soft spot for the Collector Rose Red City Sangiovese. Released at a couple of years old it is a gorgeous example of Australian Sangiovese made in the Chianti style. Bloody lovely does not begin to describe this wine.
With a cellar door set up on the main street in Collector and an incredible array of wines on offer, I can only suggest that if you are driving down to Canberra past Lake George...then a stop at Collector will be more than worth your time.