The Pawn Wine Co. had its beginning in 2002 as a “once” off experiment between 2 mates – winemaker Tom Keelan and vigneron David Blows. They had a craving to make small parcels of wine from alternative varieties growing on their Springhill Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. The pair had become perturbed and jaded (pissed off!) that certain grape varieties were being used as blending tools by the bigger corporate wine companies and that the potential of “old world” wine styles was not being allowed to shine within the Adelaide Hills. These varieties were ignored by the dominating wine corporates and not being used as stand alone artisinal Adelaide Hills wines of provenance.
This first vintage of The Pawn wines was so well recieved, that it suggested to them that an opportunity existed to develop an Adelaide Hills wine range which rebelled against the corporate players of the wine industry. They began to identify other idyllic viticultural sites and hand selected parcels of fruit within their Adelaide Hills vineyard to produce wines that were not only a bit unconventional, but enjoyable to drink, incredibly food friendly, and made in a style that reflects their true origins – the ultimate in hand crafted, Adelaide Hills, Artisinal wine.
With the ever increasing centralisation of the wine industry, we, like you, could be forgiven for thinking we were all just pawns in the big wine company game. The release of the Pawn is a manifestation of our resolve to amend this situation by releasing wines hand crafted from small parcels of premium fruit from our Adelaide Hills Vineyards.
With this philosophy as their goal The Pawn team, Tom Keelan – Viticulturist & Winemaker, David Blows – Vigneron, Rebecca Willson – Winemaker and Vanessa Blows – European trained Cordon Bleu have embarked on producing hand crafted wines from varieties such as Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz, Montepuciano and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wines created to be consumed young and fresh and with food as their ultimate cohort.
Vintage 2017 for TPWC broke all the averages and was one of the longest in our 16 year history. During Spring we had experienced below average temperatures right through until early December, which led to very slow vine and berry development. In some varieties, coming into summer we had a 4 week delay from the previous seasonal averages – meaning that we knew that we would still be picking Red Varieties well beyond Anzac Day 2017.
Yields in our whites were below average, so harvest began in early February with amazing sugar-acid balance and well developed flavour in all varieties. We are lucky to have a diverse array of different clonal material amongst the grape varieties, which gives us superb little parcels to play around with come vintage time.
This season did not see mother nature throw up too many hot days above 40 degrees Celsius, so our harvest period was stretched out until late April.
In South Australia we have become accustomed (some say immune!) to our heatwaves during January and February. This season was both exceptionally dry and cool, with only 2 days in our vineyard spiking above 40 degrees, but incidentally on those 2 days, night time temperatures dropped below 8 degrees – stunning ripening conditions.
At Pawn HQ, we had some definite highlights during vintage, one in particular was the white varieties, with the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner and Pinot Grigio all being harvested during the cool nights and requiring no additions in the winery – gorgeous balance of acid, sugar and flavour which will see some amaze-ball wines for spring release.
The first El Desperado Pinot Noir was harvested early March and will be a valuable addition to the pawnfolio, made from 8 different clones of Pinot Noir, this will be released in Spring 2016.
We did have some trouble ripening our Sangiovese for our Gambit due to the cooler condition, with it obviously enjoying the cooler days, hanging out there on the vine – but got there in the first week in April.
Another exciting ingredient to V16 was the Shiraz and our very small block of Montepuciano, both relished in their milder surroundings. The Shiraz seemed to have a restrained elegance on the vine, somewhat of a complex mix of perfumed berries and pepper, with striking tannin profiles not seen for many years. The Montepuciano had mind boggling colour, and the fact that it was just there was a relief as in the previous 3 vintages had only managed a teaspoon of fruit off the block.
Our Vintage 2017 will be remembered for a few things, beautiful elegant grape and wine quality, lots of rain in Spring, no super heatwaves in Summer and a slow tempered ripening period over 3 months.