27 November 2020 was the date we communicated our new, exciting finding – Little Reddie. I believe we estimated the ETA for March 2021. Well, and after a full year of Covid and Brexit ups and downs, the day has finally arrived! The much anticipated Little Reddie reaches the shores of the UK as The Vinorium’s newest exclusive offering and we are thrilled to introduce you to founder Pat Underwood and his selection of intriguing wines.
Coming from humble beginnings, Pat named his winery with a fond nod to the small barrel in which he fermented his first batch of grapes, in his Dad’s back garden using fruit from a friend’s vineyard. That and the drought-enduring fish caught along the waters of his hometown, Castlemaine. Pat continues to source fruit from a myriad of sites across Victoria and strives to shine a light on some of the lesser known, well-farmed vineyards throughout the region. He is passionate about portraying the individual landscapes and characters of each site, whilst acknowledging the traditional owners and the cultural history of the land. Pat carefully traces every bottle back to the town or hill where the wine’s fruit is grown and sourced and pays respect to the traditional owners.
Pat has an unconventional approach to winemaking and this alongside his charismatic style, shines through in the wines he produces. His style and skill is the product of years spent travelling the prominent wine regions of Europe and harvest experiences closer to home in the renowned Bannockburn vineyards with Michael Glover and at Gembrook Hill. Pat has been involved with so many major events within the Victoria wine scene, working with Jen Latta (wife of Owen Latta at Eastern Peake) at her Wine and the Country bottle shop, as well as contributing the wine offerings at The Good Table alongside chef Alex Perry. He also played a part in the Boomtown Co-operative with friends Jarad Curwood and Tim Sproal with the shared goal of creating honest wines reflective of their beloved Central Victorian climate and lifestyle.
It was around this time, in 2015 that Little Reddie really took off. Pat attributes much of what he’s learned to the relationships and mentorships he’s benefitted from along his journey of winemaking. These processes and friendships are what he values most in his quest to better understand the labyrinth of wine. The ethos at Little Reddie is utterly inspiring, Pat is very much a hands-on, learn-as-you-go winemaker and his freedom of expression and desire to learn in his own way is refreshing. Pat has produced some excellent wines through these processes which are all led by passionate intuition, and minimal intervention.
His Bannockburn Chardonnay is a perfect example of how Pat has taken something with an established quality and reputation and put his own exquisite stamp on it. It’s almost a year since we sampled his 2018 vintage and we can’t quite express how excited we are to re-sample, pinch a few cases and then share what’s left. For those of you who adored the 2015 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay and for those who prefer a Chardonnay, which is unapologetic in its richer style, this is the one for you. Epically good just doesn’t cut it – honestly, it’s that good.
Alas, the quantity is tiny and there is no 2019, 2020 or 2021 vintage. We tease you with magnificence, and then we cannot purchase more… Sod’s bloody law, but there you go.
Little Reddie Lancefield Chardonnay 2019
Only 107 bottles are available
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet unfurls at its own pace and rushes for no one… With time, crisp orchard fruits, citrus oil, oyster shell, wet stones and the faintest whiff of smoke develop. The palate provides copious layers of soothing fruit infused with minerals. The wine feels tightly-knit (built for the long haul) and incredibly long – intense mineral finish with warming anise and saline. Impeccably balanced and wonderfully complete. This is quite a remarkable Chardonnay and one which has just started its journey. Clearly a different style to the Malmsbury, but equally compelling, nonetheless. I would love to see this served against, young Grand Cru Burgundy. Drink now to 2031. Best from 2025 onwards. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
Little Reddie Malmsbury Chardonnay 2018
Just 23 'epic' bottles are available...
98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “I am genuinely cursing myself as this is showing much, much better than the sample we received 12-months ago (hence the tiny quantity ordered). Today, I would not hesitate to purchase 600 bottles. I love the intensely golden-yellow colour and viscosity. The bouquet is super-interesting, and I would be torn if served blind (without sampling). A little oxidative note (a great Jura Chardonnay) coupled with mature notes from a Champagne – dried fruit, almond, yeasty bread. I detect a little iodine, freshness comes in the form of lemon, but more confit than freshly zested. Pure honey and smoked almonds as the wine aerates. The palate is incredibly soothing, tincture-like in its velvetiness and not a whisper of being clumsy. Sublime control and yet, I feel lavished by the mouthfeel and texture. The fruit is buttery with a touch of minerality and acidity to add precision. Seductive with the flavour, length and depth to be declared as ‘epic.’ What a fool I am for not ordering more! Do not overchill (garage temperature). Not decanted. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drink now to 2025+.”
The Rush Brothers vineyard is very astutely managed by John Rush who planted the vines in 1988. I have some involvement with this vineyard throughout the year pruning and helping out when hands are needed. The canopy and yield management is exceptional and thus the use of a systemic fungicide is very limited here. The wound sealant used during pruning was the only deviation from organics during the 2019 growing season.
A near perfect pick. Harder pruning led to lower yields than usual and this resulted in very powerful and balanced fruit. Ripening moved slowly, flavours accumulating, acids holding beautifully and sugars remaining moderate.
Very gentle whole bunch pressing, manual operation with limited turning. Cold settled in stainless without addition. Fermented in one very old barrique and one second pass (Taransaud) puncheon. The wine holds the oak very comfortably. Ferments are slowed with chilling at the very beginning to allow them to carry on slowly through the winter and following summer. Barrels are topped weekly.
The wine was racked off the majority of lees into stainless steel on Boxing Day 2019. Remaining in a cool corner of the cellar for a further 7 + months before being bottled by hand under natural cork.
Little Reddie Bannockburn Chardonnay 2018
Only 216 bottles are available
99 Points - Stuart McCloskey “For those seeking unadulterated, viscous pleasure. The bouquet provides a heady mix of yellow plum, honey, buttered citrus, orange marmalade, chalk and limestone. The palate is full-bodied, waxy, tincture-like in its viscosity – incredibly gratifying. Powerful with enough acidity to provide the perfect balance. The flavours keep building (as does the weight). The buttered citrus and essence of lemon thyme leaves you salivating. There’s a cracking dollop of spice – the flavours keep coming – they fan-out gloriously. This is an intense experience and quite honestly one of the best ‘new’ Chardonnays I have sampled in several years. Genuinely remarkable and shows the power of Bannockburn fruit perfectly. A ‘must have’ wine for those seeking the ultimate in sensation. Do not overchill. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drink now to 2026+. Side note; this could age for decades, but I cannot see this improving… A one off, sadly.”
Little Reddie Malmsbury Pinot Noir 2019
Only 53 bottles are available
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Another wine which has come-on leaps and bounds since last year. The wine opens to Morello cherry, raspberry (almost Bakewell tart) – the fruit feels mineral driven and incredibly fresh. With time, the wine feels a touch brooding – dark fruits turning to jasmine tea and onto fresh sage leaf. The palate feels poised – the acidity working in harmony with the ripe, red and black fruits. Unlike two of Pat’s Chardonnays, this feels understated but charming, nonetheless. Give it a few years and allow it to open its arms. The length is triumphant and tingles with a little spice and sorbet-esque frisk. Those who cellar for 5-years will be rewarded with a very, very good bottle of Pinot Noir for twenty quid. One of my top tips of 2021… Drink now to 2027/28. Served using Zalto Burgundy glassware.”