Every year, tasting the new releases of Mike Press Wines fills me with a sense of wonder: how is it possible that such beautifully made wines should have such impossibly low prices? It’s been the case for so long, I eventually took the decision to give the winery five stars every year in my Wine Companion regardless of the points. No other winery has achieved that acknowledgment.
Press worked in the South Australian wine industry for more than 40 years, with Penfolds (under Max Schubert), then Seppelt, and finally Mildara Blass as chief winemaker, before he and wife Judy purchased a Kenton Valley property in the Adelaide Hills in 1998. They planted a little over 11ha that year, and a further 11ha the next.
The plan was to sell the grapes but the industry was faced with a glut and after several years of struggle they began making and selling their wines. Even then they did it tough, walking the streets of Adelaide and the Hills dropping flyers for their cleanskin wines in letterboxes. Success followed quickly when in 2005 both the shiraz and cabernet sauvignon featured in the taste-off for the Jimmy Watson Trophy. The one thing they have never done is cellar door sales.
In 2017, South Australian Bob Harris and his wife Yuko purchased the Mike Press Wines brand and vineyard, adding to a French chateau and complex Burgundy/Beaujolais business. They also own the Schubert Vineyard adjacent to the Press vineyard. Mike and Judy continue to live onsite, and their son Jimmy is managing the vineyard. Mike continues to make the wines (in the Gemtree winery in McLaren Vale). There is no plan to increase prices, and the focus on the domestic market will continue. The portfolio of sauvignon blanc, rosé, pinot noir, merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon are all of remarkably consistent quality given the span of style.
2018 Mike Press Wines Jimmy’s Block Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Shiraz
Excellent depth; the attractive cherry/berry fruit of the bouquet doesn’t prepare you for the complexity of the texture, the structure and the chorus of black fruits on the long, balanced palate. Overt oak influence is impressive in its absence. 14.7% alc, screwcap 94 points, drink to 2028, $16 Buy from the winery
2017 Mike Press Wines Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon
The cool ’17 vintage produced naturally elegant wines. This was matured for 18 months in used French and American barrels that imparted texture without intruding on the juicy fruit flavours – blackcurrant, black olive, bay leaf and a speckle of mint. 13.3% alc, screwcap 94 points, drink to 2030, $15 Buy from the winery
2018 Mike Press Wines Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Estate-grown Dijon clone 777, fruit-thinned three times through the growing season resulting in a very intense, deeply coloured wine with a foresty/earthy component couched in generous red and purple fruit. Finish and aftertaste have peacock’s tail characters. Wow! 14.5% alc, screwcap 93 points, drink to 2030, $18 Buy from the winery