Colin Richardson was a wine man of vast appetites.
It has been said that such a full and abiding zest for life – for wine, for food, for people – was the result of his Vietnam War experiences.
Every day mattered. Every wine mattered. He was the most positive judge of wine you could ever meet. And the happiest.
He sure did like to laugh. His was a deep bellow that started somewhere near his toes and rumbled through his body, his tummy wobbling, before his whole frame was in motion with the sound.
He called me Tawny. I called him my mentor.
I often think of Colin, who died in 1999 at just 53, as the archetypal wine man.
He taught me and many others everything about its enjoyment, of flavours, emotions and fun – wine was an utter joy to him – his language rarely venturing into pH levels, volatile acidity or all those other things that so consume some wine people.
That’s what made him one of the best wine educators Australia has ever produced.
To Colin, no Country Women’s Association get-together was too small, no town too isolated and no beer drinker too stubborn to be converted to the joys of wine. By day in his role as manager of the Wine and Brandy Producers’ Association of Victoria he would tour country towns in the 1970s and 80s talking wine, doing tastings. By night (five nights a week at one particularly hectic stage) he would hold classes at William Angliss College and the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne.
In his long career which started in 1969 he also had a bunch of roles he happily filled, of wine show judge, wine commentator, secretary of the Wine Press Club of Victoria, wine industry representative and fine wine manager.
I think of him every time Blue Pyrenees Estate releases its set of Richardson wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz – made in his honour at the Western Victorian winery where Colin was working when he died.
As the flagship of the company the wines cut a suitably sombre and serious picture in tall, elegant bottles and royal, dark blue livery. The wines are the winemaker’s selection of that year’s best Cabernet or Shiraz. Serious, yes, but the fun is still there.
I sometimes imagine the way Colin might have talked about the wines that take his name.
The 2018 Cabernet is all sweet fruit and juicy, like blackberry pie oozing with charm but there’s also another side to the wine; one that is fine-textured and aromatic with ripe tannins. Spice? Of course, this is Western Victorian fruit, after all. There’s clove and aniseed and that gentle riff of menthol on the finish is pure Pyrenees.
Balance, that’s a good word and one Colin used a lot. Yes, the 2018 Cabernet has balance.
The 2018 Richardson Shiraz is a slow burn, a quiet starter at this stage, one to air before serving or better still, put down (Colin did believe in cellaring and had a marvellous, if slightly chaotic cellar). It’s built for the long run.
Black and red fruits on nose, quiet, vanilla, red fruits, spice is faint but telling – this wine is in building mode.
Generous in tone, but not too much, the concentrated tannin spine keeps things tight and focused, the Shiraz sings with fine-edged black fruits and class.
Yes, Colin Richardson would be pleased.
Blue Pyrenees Estate Richardson 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
Blue Pyrenees Estate Richardson 2018 Shiraz
All the Blue Pyrenees Richardson range, including some back vintages, can be found here.