RECOGNITION: Tony Hassall, from Just Red Wines, shows off some of his bottled Tannat. The unusual variety has picked up plaudits from famed wine critic, James Halliday.
RECOGNITION: Tony Hassall, from Just Red Wines, shows off some of his bottled Tannat. The unusual variety has picked up plaudits from famed wine critic, James Halliday. Matthew Purcell

Halliday sings Just Red praise

THERE'S few more pleasing accolades in the wine industry than a stellar review from famed critic James Halliday.

Just Red Wines winemaker Tony Hassall woke last week to just that.

Mr Hassall, along with wife Julia and son Michael, are proof that keeping business in the family can pay off.

For 16 years they've owned and operated the Ballandean- based winery. Over the year's they've rated well with Halliday, but their recent recognition for their 2018 Tannat is on top of the pile.

"We are very proud of our Tannat which has won numerous awards since our first vintage in 2014, however we agree with Halliday that the 2018 is our best yet. Tannat is well suited to the Granite Belt,” Mr Hassall said.

In the latest James Halliday Wine Companion, they received 95 points for their 2018 Tannat.

"Our climate is similar to the home of the grape variety in South West France,” Mr Hassall said.

"Boireann Winery (at The Summit) has also consistently scored well with their Tannat.

"Their 2017 also received 95 points in the latest Halliday.”

Tony, Julia and Michael Hassall are celebrating their stellar reviews in the latest James Halliday Wine Companion.
JUST A WINNER: Tony, Julia and Michael Hassall are celebrating their stellar reviews in the latest James Halliday Wine Companion. Contributed

A few other Just Red varieties received plaudits.

"It was also great to have two other wines with more than 90 points in this edition,” Mr Hassall said.

"With 92 awarded to our 2018 Shiraz Viognier and 91 to our 2017 Cabernet Sauvig- non - this has resulted in our winery being awarded four and a half stars in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, our best ranking yet.

"It's tough for us to get such a result with Halliday, as we only make a few wines.”

The Granite Belt is building a strong reputation for offering up some unique varieties, highlighted by the Strange Bird initiative.

But Mr Hassall has particularly high hopes for the Shiraz Viognier.

"We're very happy with our decision to make Shiraz Viognier a flagship of ours.

"I think Shiraz Viognier has the potential to be the Granite Belt's iconic wine style.

"Our climate and soils are very similar to Cote Rotie in France's Northern Rhone where the tradition of co-fermenting Syrah (Shiraz) and Viognier comes from.”

Both Heritage Estate and Boireann Winery received 95 points for their Shiraz Viognier in the latest Halliday Wine Companion.

"I congratulate them both for being the only Granite Belt wineries to achieve five stars this year.”