Mutiny on the Murray: Bill Downie Petit Verdot 2015

Bill Downie is he of the eponymous William Downie Gippsland, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley Pinot Noir label.  This, says his importer, Liberty Wines, is the result of “an opportunity to make an accessibly priced wine that would be available in greater volume,” so gets the Bill not Will[iam] moniker.  It is among a growing number of accessibly priced but ambitious wines from vineyards located around the Murray River.

The Riverland (where this wine comes from), Murray Darling (where Downie, in collaboration with Jason Searle, sources Sagrantino for their Save our Souls label) and Riverina have been traditional engine rooms of Australian production.  Swimming against the current, Downie joins the likes of Murray Darling’s Chalmers family (from whom he sources said Sagrantino) and Elizabeth Marwood of l’enologa  – fellow Murray mutineers  – whose wines challenge the perception that these regions are all about volume production.

Here are my notes on Downie’s Petit Verdot:

Bill Downie Petit Verdot 2015 (Riverland, South Australia)


For starters, this Petit Verdot comes from a hand-tended, biodynamically cultivated vineyard.  Located on the Murray River, close to the town of New Residence, the Petit Verdot vineyard is planted on deep red sandy loam.  Downie followed through on the low tech approach in the winery, fermenting this unfiltered Petit Verdot naturally. The fruit is less overt and the tannins less polished than other examples of Australian Petit Verdot I’ve encountered, but it retains good varietal character with its deep hue, violet perfume lift and spicy dark, open knit but intense berry fruit.  Bitter chocolate and smudgy, fine tannins add savoury interest.  Very good.  13.5% £17 at Vinoteca, £17.49 at Oz Wines, £17.50 at Swig

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