Mr Burke's Favourite Big Red - the story

A very special wine.

Kept to a very affordable dozen price, Mr. Burke's Favourite Big Red is our most popular and best selling wine, a slightly ironic fact when you realise that the wine's origin was a climate-driven mistake!

Mr Burke the clydesdale

The wine is extremely rich in big, ripe, primary fruit flavours combined with the warming aromas of fragrant new oak.

Originally it all happened in March 2008 when we had a long heatwave at vintage time and many wine makers were caught out by very fast ripening that saw all grape varieties go from significantly under-ripe to significantly over-ripe in the space of four or five days, rather then the normal four or five weeks.

To further complicate things I was heading to Canberra at the time to set up and run my Troubadour Wine Bar at The National Folk Festival, thinking the Shiraz from the Redesdale vinyard we look after would be close to ready for picking when I returned. But it went from an unripe 12 baumé to over 15 baumé (which results in 15% plus alcohol) in just a few days, and HAD to be picked even though I wasn't there.

I managed to get some good friends to look after the picking and take the grapes to a neighbouring winery to be crushed and fermented in my absence, and by the time I was back the ferment had already been pressed and we had tanks of very very fruity and sweetly alcoholic big red wine, around 16% alcohol. It actually tasted rather luscious! The grape sugars had been so high that the yeast hadn't quite managed to finish the ferment, so there was a tiny amount of unfermented sugar left in the wine. Actually this was only about five grams a litre, less than many commercial 'dry' red wines, and about a quarter or a fifth of the amount in most sparkling Shiraz.

But it wasn't the type of wine that was typical of the style that we were becoming known for, and it really didn't fit into our established portfolio. So what to do with it? I decided to give it a fun name and a very affordable price and sell it quickly and then forget about it.

So it was named after our Clydesdale Mr. Burke ('Clomp' to his friends), because of his size and love of molasses.To cut a long story short, it was instantly extremely popular, a huge hit at The Heathcote Wine And Food Festival, people kept coming back to buy more cases, sent their friends to buy cases, people who tried a glass for lunch at the local pub got in their cars and drove straight to the winery to buy cases, and for the next two years most of the people who phoned or visited the winery opened their conversations with something like "We had a red wine of yours recently called Mr. Burke's", or "there's a wine of yours that is made by a horse', or several variations on the theme. So, a happy accident!

It's not a wine that we can produce in a cool year and after it sold out it wasn't untill 2012 that conditions were right to repeat the recipe. Subsequent vintages remain true to style and remain very popular.

It's not necessarily everbody's cup of tea ...( in fact it's more cappucino with two!) and I don't think of it as a connoisseur's wine, but about seventy per cent of people who try it love it, including many experienced and hardened wine drinkers.

The other thirty per cent find it a bit too fruity, or a bit over the top and lacking subtlety. But for those who love it it is very enjoyable and affordable.The proof of the pudding is in the eating, they say. So have a taste and make up your own mind! ...... Cheers, Andrew

There is more about "Clomp" on our About Us page.

Read Clomp's column in the latest newsletter.

The horses at Burke & Wills Winery

Clomp and his friends.

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