Propaganda War Claims Dill
Constellation PR hogwash currently sloshing round the internet shows the developer desperate to convince the world the little vineyard it wants to destroy is not the source of the famous Reynella clone. Young writers have gullibly swallowed the company fluff, like Tyson Stelzer declaring, in The Wine Spectator:
“Some in the industry have suggested that the vineyard was the original source of the Reynella clone of Cabernet Sauvignon, which has since been planted across Australia. It's more likely that the clone originated from the nearby Reynella vineyard, planted by Reynell shortly after Stony Hill. Constellation has declared that it plans to continue to maintain the Reynella vineyard.”
I know the Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser, has not been highly regarded for the quality of its wine critics (example: I wrote for it for twenty years, a large slice of its life); if there was a good one, it was surely Ebenezer Ward. After he visited Reynell in 1862, he wrote:
“In 1847 and 1848 Mr. Reynell obtained cuttings of the white sorts from the Clarendon Vineyard – viz., Pedro Ximines, Doradilla, Temprana, Palo-mino-blanco, &c.: and since then he has planted a considerable extent with the Rousillons.
“Thus his vineyard on the hilly land is chiefly confined to the Clarendon sorts, the Rousillon, and the Verdielho. The Carbonet -- a variety which, from the quality of its produce, cannot be too highly valued – Mr. Reynell has planted in another vineyard which he formed in 1848 on the flat bordering the creek, and where the soil is a black alluvial deposit on the surface, with a red loam subsoil. In this vineyard there are also Malbec and Shiraz to mix with the Carbonet, the Rousillon sorts, and (planted in 1861) Frontignac, Verdeilho, and Riesling.”
It is this creek block which is to be destroyed. Contrary to Stelzer’s claim, this appears to have been planted after the hill vineyard, but this is immaterial. Ward’s account clearly explains the hill block cabernet, where the soil was “too light” had been changed by grafting to white varieties and “the Rousillon varieties” by 1862, but the better soil of the creek block was where the cabernet grew, with the traditional blending agents of that day, as then used in Bordeaux: malbec and shiraz.
Indeed, it is this blend which impressed Ward most. He concluded his account with the critical line “his Verdielho is also remarkably good, but we thought a wine made from an admixture of Malbec and Carbonet best of all.”
Ward makes no mention of the creek block being called “Stony Hill”. To the contrary, he refers to its black alluvium over red loam. If you examine the aerial photograph below, you will notice the richness of the creek block on your left, circled, in contrast to the stony, sandy hill block around Constellation's huge Colorbond factory conveniently placed on the hill to your right. This old hack would suggest Mr. Stelzer would be safer theorising that this "Stony Hill" appellation is a later sophistication very convenient - like a little A$5 million convenient - to the prospective developer of the lucrative block in the gully.
If Ward's painstaking and scholarly account bears any weight, the feisty Constellation boss propagandist, Sheralee Davies, Group Public Relations Manager, is propagating abject nonsense.
We may never precisely discover where the Reynella clone first emerged, but if it comes down to being of vital importance, like A$5 mill clicksworth, the developer must be expected to display a little more intellectual rigour and reveal the historical sources of its increasingly breathless claims.