Ross and Katherine Brown from Milawa dropped by this week: they were showing their signature wines – Patricia – around Brisbane town.

Katherine & Ross Brown – Brown Brothers

Also Brown Brothers’ new Prosecco 2010 is awesome. That’s the prosecco grape; origin Veneto Italy and now grown increasingly in the King Valley, and no doubt elsewhere in high county Victoria.

The Italians have stamped this wine up with a DOCG in their country, and any maker outside the delineated region must describe the wine as glera, the ancient name for the prosecco grape.

But in Australia it’s good old prosecco. Italian Prosecco DOCG is coming into Australia in increasing quantities, and is very good.

Both strands of wine are made by tank fermentation or Charmat. That’s the process which makes unpretentious bubbly wine.

Brown Brothers Limited Release Prosecco 2010 (USD 20); 11%, +++1/2, is uncomplicated but this varietal has a habit of igniting the nose with pleasantries; what you smell is soft yet distinct pear/varietal prosecco grape, little yeast, then an equally pleasing mouthful, fizz, little sweetness, clean mouth, pleasant swallow. Great.

Brown Brothers Limited Release Pinot Grigio 2010 (USD30), 14%, ++++, is the most serious attempt on this grape which I have seen from Browns. It smells worked (had portions of chardonnay-types of manipulation during fermentation, probably some going through old barrels and such complexing tools). Powerful nose, lots of pear fruit, clean, fruity, long flavoured and very trite finish.

Brown Brothers Patricia Chardonnay 2008 (USD 40), 13.5%, +++1/2, is the first chardonnay to make the Patricia standard (top in the company) for five years. It’s green (young), has a nose full of interest (nutty fruit, sweet-smelling barrel ferment), and a lovely taste; that’s mixed fruit flavours, then minerality and a long time after, a touch of dryness from barrel use.

It’s a long wine to age a long time, made from Yarra Valley and Whitlands; all Victorian grapes.

Ross Brown quipped “this style is in the space where we want to be” meaning he has one of those modern Australian chardonnays which some English critics are now saying are well set to rival the whites of Burgundy. With their screw caps Browns bottles will certainly last longer.

Brown Brothers Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (UDS 56), 14.5%, ++++1/2, is dense; it’s going to be a deep drink, it smells of cedar and mint, then black fruits, it’s tannins are soothing but not dumbed down, it’s sufficiently rich to make me salivate. Grapes come from King Valley, Mornington, Pyrenees and Beechworth.

Brown Brothers Limited Release Durif 2009 (USD 20), 14%, +++1/2, has real attitude, its dark and brooding, grown in Heathcote (cooler spot than traditional Rutherglen examples), has flavours of blackberry pips, a lovely dimension on swallowing, ripe, soft and engaging.

Ross Brown spoke about his company’s purchases of the assets of Gunns in Tasmania with strong assurance that the USD 33 million investment will return dividends.

The first immediate payoff has been the replacement of lost pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from Whitlands due to hail damage.

Ross spoke of the cycles in Australian wine supply: red in the 70s, white in the 80s; generally the span of the cycle is 15 years, sometimes closer to 10; chardonnay went 15 years from the 90s, sauvignon blanc is 12 years in and working hard to destroy itself.

He predicts that red wine consumption is on an upswing, with pinot noir showing a 24% growth pattern from a slim 5% market share.

If it does move upwards as a category, the 45% of the Gunns purchase which is pinot should be a boon for the Brown family.


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