The wines of Lethbridge, Geelong, Australia
Serious, naturally made wines from this cool climate Victorian region


Ray Nadeson

Had a great opportunity to taste through the wines of Geelong winery Lethbridge, with owner and winemaker Ray Nadeson. This is, to my mind, one of Australia’s most exciting wineries, making thrilling Chardonnay and compelling Pinot Noir from organically grown grapes (with some biodynamic influence).

This small (3000 case) winery is dedicated to producing what the owners describe as ‘European accented’ wines. Ray has a PhD and was working in neuroscience research at Monash University, when, in the mid-1990s he formed a partnership with his life partner Maree Collis (who also has a PhD) and friend (and fellow medical researcher) Adrian Thomas to buy a property, which became Lethbridge. They must have been seriously bitten by the wine bug! Since then, Ray and Maree have left their day jobs to work full-time as winegrowers, while Adrian has kept his. 

The winery itself is made from straw bales, which, with their insulating properties, ensure that no heating or cooling of the facility is needed. Vineyard management is organic with biodynamic influences. Because different blocks are kept separate, a large number of wines are made here from a range of varieties. Chardonnay is particularly successful

These wines are made in small quantities, but they are worth seeking out if you can find them. Berkmann Cellars in the UK get the only allocation outside the state of Victoria!


Lethbridge Allegra Chardonnay 2007 Geelong, Australia
From vines planted in 1969: the oldest Chardonnay vines in the region, and the coolest vineyard site, too. Low pH (3.0) and 15 months in new oak, which has integrated beautifully. Yield of just 3 tons from 5 acres. ‘I want the richness to be held back by the minerality,’ says Ray Nadeson. Mineral, spicy nose with some apple and pear fruit, as well as some attractive reductive notes. The palate is complex, nutty, toasty and fine with great definition to the ripe apple and pear fruit. Beautiful wine. 95/100

Lethbridge Ménage à Noir Pinot Noir 2010 Geelong, Australia
From a single vineyard in this vintage, which was a very good one, but usually it is sourced from three. Very ripe, sweet and aromatic on the nose with red berry and cherry fruit, and a hint of meatiness. Thrilling ripe, sweet, haunting palate with a smooth texture and some mineral notes. Ripe and expressive. 94/100

Lethbridge Pinot Noir 2009 Geelong, Australia
From a vineyard with limestone soils, and a bit of red clay. Fine, fresh berry fruits nose with lovely precise aromas. Subtle and restrained with a fine hint of green. The palate is fresh, structured and fine with great acidity, a linear character and precise, ripe, pure fruit. 94/100

Lethbridge Mietta Pinot Noir 2008 Geelong, Australia
‘From our best vineyard,’ says Ray Nadeson. ‘It’s very mean, tight and ungiving at first, but it is the most subtle.’ The vines are 16 years old. Taut, fine, spicy, aromatic nose with black cherry and plum fruit. Very fine with a savoury edge. Rich, concentrated, fine-grained palate is nicely intense with good acidity and beautiful focus. Potential for development. 95/100

Lethbridge Que Syrah Syrah 2006 Geelong, Australia
‘Shiraz made by a Pinot maker,’ says Ray Nadeson. Ripe, sweet, yet fine nose leads to a smooh, elegant, rather lushly ripe palate showing generous berry and cherry fruit. Sweet and approachable with a real elegance. Hugely drinkable. 92/100

Lethbridge Hugo George 2008 Geelong, Australia
A co-planted vineyard; 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Just 50 cases made. Fine, expressive nose with notes of tar, spice and berry fruits. Lively, open, sweet palate is grainy and full-on showing a distinctive spiciness and grippy structure. Fresh and precise. 93/100

See also:

The wines of Bindi, Macedon Ranges
The wines of Cobaw Ridge 

Wines tasted 05/12  
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