Robert Oatley Wines: Rebirth of an Australian Wine Legend

By Glen Frederiksen

I grew up (as an adult in the world of wine, that is) drinking the wines from Rosemount Estate in Australia.

These ranged from the bargain-priced Diamond Series to expensive vineyard-designated Reserve wines.

Sadly, by the time I traveled to Australia in 2002 and 2005, the wines of Rosemount were slipping back to the middle of the pack… and the brand was sold shortly thereafter.

I never knew the person behind the wines I had fallen in love with back in the 1990s. I knew of him, but I’d never had the chance to meet him. His name is Robert Oatley.

Oatley has led an amazing life over the past half-century. His story begins in the 1950s and ’60s, when he enjoyed great success marketing coffee and cocoa beans from Papua, New Guinea, throughout the world. He went on to establish the Rosemount Estate winery in the early 1970s, earning high praise and numerous accolades for his wines over the next three decades.

Along the way, he found time for his other passion — competitive yacht racing. He has won a basketful of trophies and set a number of records in that realm.

At a recent trade event in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to taste through the current releases from Robert Oatley Winery that are just now being imported into the United States.

All six were clean, correct, restrained and true to the variety. These aren’t in-your-face New World bottlings, slamming the imbiber with over-ripe fruit and high alcohol. Nor are they funky Old World in style, all about the terroir while being somewhat fruit-shy.

These aren’t “wow” wines — they’re simply well made and eminently drinkable.
The winery is located in the Mudgee, about 100 miles northwest of Sydney. Grapes are sourced from the finest wine regions in Australia.

Prices are not yet established in the United States, so I am quoting the line price listed on the winery’s Australian website. As the U.S. dollar is roughly equal to the Aussie dollar, the prices shown should be in the ballpark.

My wine notes and ratings:

2011 Robert Oatley Riesling, Great Southern, Australia

2011 Robert Oatley Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River, Australia

2011 Robert Oatley Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia

2010 Robert Oatley Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

2010 Robert Oatley Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia

2010 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Australia

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