Koomilya, the ‘new Wendouree’

australia syrah

Koomilya, the ‘new Wendouree’

The Koomilya vineyard in McLaren Vale
The Koomilya vineyard in McLaren Vale

Komilya is the exciting new vineyard-based project from one of the McLaren Vale’s stars, SC Pannell. I don’t like to hype wines, but this is one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made in Australia. This is the McLaren Vale’s Wendouree, in terms of style, intention and potential longevity.

Stephen Pannell is the son of Bill Pannell, the man who planted Moss Wood, one of the top vineyards in Margaret River. Steve made his name as chief winemaker for Hardy’s, and while he was there, one vineyard in McLaren Vale had a special attraction to him. It was from this 80 acre property on Amery Road that he sourced Shiraz for the Eileen Hardy, Hardy’s flagship red. So when he managed to persuade the growers, Don and Jill Cant, that it was time to sell, he pounced. He purchased it in 2012.

JC Block Shiraz, 80-100 year old vines
JC Block Shiraz, 80-100 year old vines

It’s an old vineyard, but its history is poorly documented. The oldest vines here likely date back 120 years: a block of gnarly old Mourvèdre. The Shiraz is pretty old, too, and there are two blocks that he makes separate wines from, which he’s called JC and DC, after the growers he bought from. Steve has named this special place Koomilya, which is the name of a ship that used to take wood from South Australia to Western Australia and back. Steve recovered the bell from SS Koomilya while he was scuba diving in Margaret River, and so this name stuck with him.



The Koomilya wines are made in a classical style. They don’t see any new oak, or any small oak for that matter, and are aged in 2700 litre foudres. These are serious, old-school wines with incredible potential for development. Just as with Wendouree, they are not wines to crack in their youth, but instead need cellaring. So far just the 2014 Shiraz and 2013 DC Block have been released. We were lucky to try the as-yet unreleased 2015s which are amazing wines. And just as with Wendouree, they will likely all be sold to mailing list customers. Time to form an orderly queue.


Koomilya Shiraz 2014 McLaren Vale, Australia
Concentrated and very fresh with lovely expressive raspberry and blackberry fruit, with a faint meaty savouriness and a twist of reductive tightness. Taut on the palate with grip, this has lovely intensity, and needs quite a while to shed its reductive youthfulness and unfurl properly. Backward but with amazing potential for development. 94/100

Koomilya Shiraz 2015 McLaren Vale, Australia
Concentrated, pure and fine with lovey raspberry and black cherry fruit. Structured and very fine. Backward and tannic but pure and primary with lots of finesse, even though there’s good structure here and some floral perfume even at this early age. Thrilling wine. 95/100

Koomilya Cabernet Shiraz 2015 McLaren Vale, Australia
Brooding blackcurrant fruit nose with some fine floral notes. Lovely freshness and purity here with good acidity. So pure and expressive, with real finesse. Tannic yet pure, linear and elegant. A classic. 96/100


Koomilya JC Block Shiraz 2015 McLaren Vale, Australia
80-100 year old vines from a block that used to be a core component of Eileen Hardy Shiraz. Intense brooding nose of sweet raspberry and cherry fruit with a subtle tarry edge. Concentrated but very fresh with firm tannins and more red than black fruits. Dense and subtly tarry. Fine, but needs a lot of time. 96/100

Koomilya DC Block Shiraz 2013 McLaren Vale, Australia
Brooding nose is tight with some floral berry fruits. The palate is tannic and firm, with some sweet berry fruits and cherry richness. Very appealing with lovely density and structure. 94/100

Koomilya DC Block Shiraz 2015 McLaren Vale, Australia
Highly aromatic with brooding black cherry and raspberry fruit. Really concentrated with amazing depth and a hint of spicy richness. Burly and tannic but still very fresh and pure. Has massive potential for development. 95/100

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