Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, May 20 2021

Wizards of Oz

By: Anthony Gismondi
Jackson Family Wines Australian Portfolio: Yangarra, Hickinbotham and Giant Steps

Peter Fraser has been wowing the wine critics almost since his arrival in 2000 at McLaren Vale's famed Yangarra Estate.

Noted Australian MW Andrew Caillard says, "Peter Fraser consistently produces some of Australia's finest grenache and shiraz wines. He is a brilliant specialist with southern Rhône varieties, and almost everything he touches is gold."

Fraser caught the attention of American wine giants Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke at the turn of the millennium when they bought Yangarra Estate largely after meeting Fraser and deciding he and his love of grenache were the future at Yangarra. Jess and Barbara, proprietors of the Sonoma-based Jackson Family Wines (JFW) brought an outsider's perspective that dovetailed with Frasers's strong sense of place and vision.

When Australia was trying to please everyone and blending was the norm, a radical idea – chasing single-varietal grapes of Mediterranean origin, turned local heads, yet 20 years later, the outcome has been an unprecedented success for Fraser, Yangara, McLaren Vale, and frankly, Australia.

Barbara Banke became CEO of Jackson Family Wines after Jess's death in 2011. Together with Pete, they have expanded JFW's stable of wineries in Australia, adding two superstar properties: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard and, more recently, Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley. Fraser will oversee several aspects of each winery whose single-vineyard philosophies perfectly fit his farming ethos. As we learn about the JFW experience in Australia, as told by Pete, we also see how the modern Australian wine industry is adapting and changing to the ever-shifting needs of the global wine business.

Look for several reviews in the coming days as we work our way through a shortlist of new JFW Australia wines from Yangarra, Hickinbotham and Giants Steps. Expect full tasting notes in the next few weeks here, but you'll be able to search for them in our database as well.

Here is the status of  Yangarra, Hickinbotham and Giant Steps wines in Canada as of May 2021.

Yangarra Grenache High Sands 2017 - Spec or limited quantities  $109.99

Yangarra Grenache Old Vine McLaren Vale 2019 - Spec $43.99

Yangarra GSM McLaren Vale 2017 - Spec $43.99

Hickinbotham Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Peake 2018 - Spec / Limited quantities $125.99

Giant Steps Chardonnay Yarra Valley 2020 - May release $38.99

Giant Steps Chardonnay Sexton 2019 - May release $49.99

Giant Steps Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2020 - Spec $44.99

Giant Steps Pinot Noir Applejack 2019 - Spec/Limited quantities $54.99

Contact the distributor Summit Fine Wines if you have trouble tracking down the wines. 

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony co-hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 18 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple and iHeart Radio and more. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.