Dear Cru Club,

Koomilya is a joyous place for all of us at Pannell Enoteca – for Fiona and me, and for the people who make it all work. This time of year the local flora puts on a show, the vineyard is bursting with new life and the sounds of busy insects and birds combine in a chorus that we have now recorded and can share with you here.

Koomilya was the first vineyard we purchased and holds a special place in my heart as the home of my first Jimmy Watson-winning Shiraz in 1996. Becoming custodians of Koomilya in 2012 signalled the start of an extraordinary period of trophy wins and awards that have altered our course and for which we will be eternally grateful.

There have been many other vineyards I have cherished, including the Echunga property where my second ‘Jimmy’ came from in 2014. At the time we couldn’t afford to make an offer, the vineyard was simply too large. The moment I picked the fruit in 2013 I was overwhelmed by the quality, and the quantity. I’m even quoted in an article that “I thought it was a chance for the Watson!” I couldn’t wait to release it, not just because of quality, but for a small company it was also a lot of wine to sell through. I needn’t have worried; in November 2014 the S.C.Pannell Syrah 2013 won the Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, and our lives were forever altered. Having made larger quantities of this wine also meant we could hold some back and re-release to our customers earlier this month, almost 10 years on. As always, Cru Club members got first access to this special release and I hope a few of you have already had a chance to enjoy this special wine.

It’s a double-edged sword though, making wine from vineyards you don’t own. As soon as you garner attention, the price of the fruit goes up and you lose control of the quality. This was when it dawned on me that if I want to make the best wine possible, I must own the vineyard the fruit is sourced from. That's when we decided we needed to focus on our own vineyards, to be able to control the process from start to finish.

Following our purchase of Koomilya, we bought nine hectares on Olivers Rd in McLaren Vale in 2014 and set about converting the Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay to the ‘alternative’ varieties I had learnt about from judging the Australian Alternative Variety Wine Show in the early 2000s. In 2019 we purchased the Kenton Valley vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, now called Protero, excited about the potential of five different clones of Nebbiolo planted there in 1999. We have since reworked other varieties to Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Barbera, Dolcetto and a lot more Nebbiolo - all varieties that we love to drink and that we think have a better affinity with the region ad site. Finally, in 2021, a prized Grenache vineyard in the heart of Blewitt Springs landed in our laps, now named the Little Branch vineyard to honour Fiona’s family.

Winning the Dr Rod Bonfiglioli Trophy at the AAVWS in 2013 and 2014 for the S.C.Pannell Tempranillo Touriga signalled an epiphany for me. I wanted to make a single vineyard blend of Iberian varieties at Koomilya, variteties that I believe will see McLaren Vale into the future. The blend under the purple cap has changed from vintage to vintage and may change again, but the new release Koomilya Tempranillo Touriga 2019 feels right and tastes unmistakably Koomilya.


Aromas of blackberry, fruits of the forest, briar, iodine, cinnamon, clove, violets and split red wood lead the rush of flavours on to the palate, adding black cherry, satsuma plum, cherry blossom, allspice and fresh bay leaves. A depth of flavour intertwined with supple tannins. A slick entry opens out to an expansive back palate with filigreed and pretty edges. The medium weight carries intensity through the middle of the palate and chases orange rind and cardamom through to the energetic finish.


The October instalment of Cru Club is a celebration of good decisions made and chances taken across all of our vineyards, with a selection of new releases and old favourites. Thank you for taking the journey with us so far!


Stephen, Fiona and the Pannell Enoteca team

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