Somerled in the 80s: Part II

Wine / Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Hello! Lucy here again with Part II of the 1980s.


This week we are continuing the hazy discussion that dad and I had over a bottle of 2020 Chardonnay…

Looking back at wines in the 1980s and how some may have differed from the Somerled range today. And how some might be very much the same!

I imagine you’ve printed the first part of the blog out and it’s on your fridge door. 

In addition, here’s a very brief reminder of the key points from Part I: 


Sparkling: it would have been largely the same then, providing dad could find some hard-to-come-by-then pinot noir.

Sauvignon Blanc: the concept of picking early at lower ripeness hadn’t yet come into vogue, so some of the distinctive aromas of the variety were way over the top. 

Chardonnay: likewise, these were left on the vines in order to provide maximum flavour. But sometimes this meant they became pretty harsh on the palate due to high alcohol. And without dad’s much-loved malolactic fermentation yet on the scene, they were also not as complex and interesting as, for example, the Somerled Chardonnay is now. 


Somerled in the 1980s: Part II

1980s Rosé

A lipstick-pink Somerled Rosé with 12-14 grams/litre of residual sugar, anyone?

We can add it to your July Pack if you’d like? 


Rosé was hugely popular in the 80s – but Heather and Rob didn’t enjoy it then. 

If you’re not familiar with the concept of residual sugar, let’s just say that Somerled Rosé has about 1 gram compared with the 12-14 grams of the time!

Some on the market today are still 80s in style, but we don’t know what their excuse is?!

However, what Rob does say is this:

“The wines were beautifully made – the technical aspects were perfect, brilliantly bright, clear colour, flavours straight out of the fermenter and very vibrant, so if they’d just made them with less ripe fruit, and got the juice off the skins earlier, and with lower residual sugar, they’d have been fantastic!”

Much like our Somerled Rosé!

Would dad have made a Somerled Rosé back then?

“Probably not!

But if I did, it would certainly not be as sweet and certainly not with the same degree of alcohol as others were doing then. I wouldn’t have considered putting it through malolactic fermentation as we do now though; it would have been a much more simple style, nowhere near as interesting as what Somerled produces today.”


1980s Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir fruit was nowhere near as commonly planted as it is now, as was mainly done so for sparkling base. 

He remembers Wynns putting in vines in 1978/79-ish, and that was largely for the Edmond Mazure and Seaview sparklings. 

Interestingly, Wynns did experiment with a dry red pinot noir though!

This was so new to South Australian winemaking, and Wynns would have released it in the mid 1980s, only for it to be discontinued but a few years later due to its lack of popularity!

And this was a pinot noir that was quite ‘Somerled in style’ according to dad – not a lot of new oak, not too big, with clean, nice pinot aromas. 

Dad wonders if it could be one of a few different factors:

  1. maybe they did let it get too ripe, leaving it on the vine chasing that extra degree of flavour
  2. maybe the market just wasn’t ready for a delicate red, and instinctively favoured the richer, bigger styles
  3. while it sported the classic Wynns label, it was an unusual royal blue colour and some blamed that for it not selling!

In any case, Pinot dry reds weren’t to come into fashion until some time later. 


1980s Light Dry Red

I didn’t think dad would have much to say about this one, as surely if the Pinot dry red wasn’t embraced by the market, what would happen to an LDR?

But dad does distinctly remember a Wynns pinot made as a beaujolais like our LDR. It wasn’t released to the market – it was released to Wynns staff only! (This adds to the list of partially-labelled gems in dad’s cellar from his Penfolds and Wynns days!).

An easy-going picnic wine, mum and dad apparently loved it at the time, though it was a fair bit higher in residual sugar than what they’d usually drink now, at about 9-10g per litre. 




Ok! What else do you need me to ask dad over a bottle of Chardonnay and perhaps a Somerled platter? See – I’m always here for you!!

Can’t wait til we speak again – We’ll be back in a few weeks for the third and final instalment!

Cheers, Lucy & Rob


One Reply to “Somerled in the 80s: Part II”

  1. Hullo Lucy and Rob,
    So much for the past, what will tickle the tastebuds in the future with predicted climate change.
    I read the Champagne area is slowly moving North into Belgium???
    Enjoying all the Moody family provides.
    Froggy and Maria.

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