What does Cornwall have to do with Australian wine?

What does Cornwall have to do with Australian wine?

Well, effectively, that it's bunkum (rubbish, bull, bunk, baloney, drivel, hogwash... take your pick) to maintain the "New/Old World" divide.

Too often the wine trade, and scribblings about it, choose to pick nationalities as their starting point.

Like kids in the playground, things tend to be reduced to the lowest level. "My sparkling wine's better than your sparkling wine!". "Our Cabernet is loads better than the Cabs from XYZ..."

Wine is wine; and whilst its origins have a definite part to play in its quality and how it drinks, let's not stoop to these spurious positions.

When it popped up in the wine biz news this week that Angove Wines in McLaren Vale had just turned 130, it was time to dig a little deeper.

William T Angove was born in Camborne, Cornwall in 1855. He studied in London to be a doctor, married another Cornish native, Emma Carlyon, and practiced medicine for some time in the UK.

Dr William Thomas Angove

Dr William Thomas Angove

In 1886 they decide to emigrate to Australia. That wasn't a case of jumping on the next Quantas flight back then; you were looking at a three month sea voyage, complete with deaths and births along the way.

Settling in Tea Tree Gully in the Adelaide Hills, William Angove became interested in wine, albeit with a medical slant. Much of the early production was aimed at the "tonic wine" market, to alleviate ills and probably quite different to the wines we're used to drinking today.

Subsequent generations continued that Cornish pioneering spirit; though things weren't always smooth sailing. In 1974 the Government compulsorily purchased their land to re-designate as building land for the rapidly expanding Adelaide.

Hence the move to McLaren Vale, where as recently as 2008 they acquired an historic vineyard and renamed it Warboys Vineyard as a nod to their lost past in the Adelaide Hills.

You'll find Angove's wines in your local supermarket; the "Long Row" wines are aimed squarely at the everyday sector (Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz probably the ones to go for).

You have to wonder why there's not more made of the connection down in Cornwall, especially with the St Agnes Brandy produced by the family recognised as one of South Australia's best.

St Agnes brandy; a nod from South Australia to Corwall

St Agnes brandy; a nod from South Australia to Corwall

If I had a bar in St Agnes, there's a good few cocktails to be developed using this.

And then, in 2011, they released the first vintage of "The Medhyk", old vine McLaren Vale Shiraz taking the Cornish word for doctor as its name.

surely the doctors at Treliske would love this?

surely the doctors at Treliske would love this?

A history of 130 unbroken years in winemaking is a greater achievement than, probably, the majority of European wineries. So next time you hear someone talk about "New/Old World" wines, allow yourself a quiet chuckle.

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