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August 25 Winemaker

Wine: It’s in the Family

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When you look for wine, you want a personalized touch.

You want to know the rich, deep history behind it – how they make the wine, why they make it and who makes it. Learning the intricate details that weave themselves into each bottle of wine making it that much more meaningful, adding new layers to the overall experience.

Family is an integral part of Helm Wines. Their history stretches back as far as 1973 when Ken and Judith Helm began what became an award-winning vineyard. Daughter Stephanie has stepped in in recent years and manned the helm with Ken, continuing to produce 5-star vintages.

The Helm family can trace their passion for wine right back to the 1850’s when their German antecedents established vineyards near Rutherglen and Albury.

Helm Wines also understand the shift towards minimalism that many people adopt in this industry. They get that you look for less is more in an age of plenty where competition is fierce, and quality is scarce.

The winery utilizes a combination of traditional and modern equipment, marrying this with their minimalist approach to produce a bottle of wine that’s as close as they can get it to the vine itself.

Helm Wines hold a deep respect for the land. The characteristics of the grape used in each vintage and the terroir are essential factors they include.

Located 30km north of Canberra in a region called Murrumbateman, this winery sits in an appropriately cool climate, enabling the Helm family to produce wines that are unique and unlike anything else you’ll find, in Australia and globally.

Ken Helm has a specialized passion that’s allowed him to narrow down his love of wine into two categories. Riesling and Cabernets are the flagship wines of Helm Wines, enabling ken to be closely connected with makers of Riesling nationally and internationally. They have to separate dedicated wineries on their site which specialize in the production of their two wines.

Ken created the Canberra International Riesling Challenge in 2000, allowing him to keep his finger on the pulse of Riesling developments globally. Stephanie has been by her father’s side in the winemaking business since she was just nine years old, leading her to produce award-winning wines with her husband Ben Osborne, at their nearby winery and cellar door, The Vintners Daughter.

As you know, the food and wine industry are closely intertwined. The Helm family have cleverly capitalized on this, with son Matthew Helm training as a chef. He regularly consults on wine and food matching for Helm Wines.

As well as producing exceptional wines, Helm Wines is an opportunity to spend a lazy summer’s day picnicking or wine tasting in their one-hundred-year-old schoolhouse. Ken will guide you through your tasting, incorporating history, politics, and wine into the experience as well.

What wine can you expect to taste when you visit Helm Wines?

Helm Premium Riesling 2018: this exquisite vintage was harvested in late March of 2018 and bottled in July of the same year. This makes it the twelfth vintage of the Premium range, and this style, in particular, has accumulated a total of 14 awards since 2004.

The 2018 vintage of grapes that helped to produce this Riesling was particularly good. In fact, 2018 was such a record year for Helm Wines that they crushed over 60 tons of Riesling grapes, which equates to about 40,000 bottles.

When smelling this wine, you’ll notice an aroma of intense floral and citrus. This cool-climate Riesling is elegant with summery lime and warm apple flavors. You’ll also experience a steely minerality that is typical of the Premium Riesling range. The refreshing finish lingers.

You may either enjoy this Riesling as it is now or cellar for a good twenty to fifty years.

Helm Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Helm Wines believe that Cabernet is the king of grapes – with Riesling taking the queen’s place. The Canberra district has a perfect climate for growing Cabernet grapes. This Cabernet requires careful oak maturation, where it sits for two years before allowing maturing and then bottling.

While many wineries only mature their reds for a year before settling and bottling, Helm Wines believe that time is of the essence. While this may be an expensive exercise for the winery itself, they believe it to be worth it when you experience the results.

The Helm Premium Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious and plentiful with slight hints of spice and vanilla. A bouquet of blackcurrants follows closely behind before finishing with blackberries and firm tannins that sits on the palate. Because of the minimal wine techniques that Helm Wines employ, you can enjoy this vintage now.

This wine is particularly pleasant when enjoyed with red meats, specifically lamb. Barbequed vegetables will also pair nicely.

The Helm family want their passion for wine to translate to you and yours when you experience the result of harvesting, technique and time. When you try a Helm wine, you can taste everything that goes into producing an original fine wine that you simply can’t source from anywhere else.

The bond that the Helm family value translates directly into the wine they produce. They understand that you aren’t just looking for an end product – you’re looking for the result of many years of successes, failure, and reward. After all, that’s what being in a family is like.

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