It is some time since I had tried wine from a Cowra-based wine company so I was very excited to receive a visit from Jason O’Dea and his able young winemaker, Anthony D’Onise.

In the early days of this region I had served as a mentor by becoming involved in benchmarking tastings with the Cowra brand owners.

In those days Cowra was a single variety town – it was known far and wide for its punchy Chardonnays. And red wines were quite light.

Now that has all changed with some cracker reds grown in the place.

As I commenced discussions with Jason it was immediately striking that this company was very environmentally aware.

For a start the brand has been re-aligned as wine from the Central Ranges which allows Windowrie to creep into exciting places such as Orange, Mudgee and the Hilltops, and still keep the one Geographic Indication. A smart move.

But Jason reminded me of his energy cred: no grapes are trucked more than 100 miles from the family vineyard and winery. Draw the line.

The best range of value wines to get into Windowrie is The Mill (USD 15). These wines are very honest drinks.

There was a juicy new Verdelho 2010, 14%, heady in its perfumes but also tasty; an outrageously good Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, 12%, racy and not obvious like our mates’ wines from across the ditch, a composed but highly-flavoured Chardonnay 2009, 14%, a spicy but very intense Shiraz 2008, 15%, Cabernet Merlot 2009, 80/20,14%, a big powerful wine for red lovers, and Merlot 2008, 15.5%, spicy, sweet and rich in its over-delivery.

There are three Family Reserve wines (USD 23.75) all originating from the older vines on the family property outside Cowra: Chardonnay 2007, a touch mature, square, 14%; then a pruny, big-fruited, essency Shiraz 2008, 15%, and a parallel Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 16%, some syrupy ripeness but all so drinkable.

These wines were sealed under cork because there are some misinformed Chinese who buy them in export markets. All the rest have the usual screw cap.

To combat the glut events of the past two years Windowrie have introduced a sub-USD 9.50 range called Deep River; a term referring to the subterranean flow of water under the family vineyard – and also the source of vineyard irrigation via a bore.

Deep River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is that lemon curd, textural style of drink, 12.8%, the Chardonnay 2008 is an unwooded style, fruity, oozy, 14.5% while the Central Ranges Shiraz 2008 is lovely rich, spicy, varietal shiraz which over-delivers, 15%. All sell for USD 7.50

Jason has planted his own vineyard and managed it organically, certified in 2002; so Pig in the House Shiraz 2009 is a lovely chunky style, oak-sweet and layered, 14.5% while its partner Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, is the sweet blackcurrant style, again showing chunk, 14.5%. Both USD 17.

The Cowra region saw some of the over-planting which occurred early this decade; and in 2006 the region crushed 25,000 tonnes. By 2010 that had retreated to 7,000 tonnes by 14 producers. The big corporate names, McGuigan and Richmond Grove have sold up, the vines taken out, others mothballed, and gone back to licking their shareholder funded wounds.

As Windowrie like to say, “share our wine” as one of the pioneers of the Cowra region.

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