Maiden Tonne – a collaboration between Sanguine Estate and Australian cricketing great, Allan Border

Maiden Tonne – a collaboration between Sanguine Estate and Australian cricketing great, Allan Border

I’ve always loved wines with personalities, and perhaps more so, when personalities love wine. So, when former Australian cricket captain Allan Border shared both a bottle of the wine and his story behind the Sanguine Estate Maiden Tonne shiraz, I was hooked (pardon the cricket pun). 

As the man once known as ‘Captain Grumpy’ explains, his association with the Heathcote based winery came about through his great mate, the late Dean Jones (former Australian right-hand batter) who introduced him to his friend, Tony Hunter – owner of Sanguine Estate. According to Border, it was ‘Deano’ Jones who had convinced him to trade a post-game can of XXXX for a decent glass of red, and it was through Deano and his new-found interest in wine that his friendship with the Hunter family developed. 

But the Maiden Tonne isn’t one of those wines that a celebrity puts their name to and allows it to be marketed for commercial purposes. On the contrary, as Allan Border explains: 

“This is not just a wine that I have put my name to. I have been actively involved in the entire process, from picking the grapes right through to the blending and final tasting. I would really like to thank Mark (Hunter, Sanguine winemaker) who allowed me to come up with a wine that I can genuinely say is unique and very special to me.” 

And it was Allan Border who named his wine; “Obviously it references my first century in 1979 against Pakistan at the MCG, which was actually bittersweet for me as the ton came when we lost the test from a position where we should have won,” he explained. 

As a super-premium wine, production was small-scale, and the wine is priced accordingly at just over $100 a bottle. But that’s to be expected when the crafting process involved Allan Border and his wife Jane tasting their way through Sanguine’s best four barrels of shiraz from the 2021 vintage to arrive at what was to his palate, the perfect blend. 

So, what does the artisan shiraz of an Australian cricket legend taste like? 

Like most shiraz from the Heathcote region (think Jasper Hill’s Georgia Paddock), the Maiden Tonne is a dark inky hue in the glass and gives the impression of being a brooding style of temperate climate shiraz. Give it time in a decanter to open up, then swish, swirl and splash and you’ll find ripe red fruits and dried herbs appear on the nose. Raise the glass to your pursed lips and you’ll be enchanted from the first sip. There’s more dark fruit than at Con-the Fruiter’s – think blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrant and half a tray of mulberries. And all of it ripe, energetic and in harmony. You have to admire the way that the bright fruit is respectful of the French oak support act; allowing the cedar and tannins to take the stage before mixed spice and black pepper provide a swan song that will have you calling loudly for an encore! Wow!  

It’s a full-bodied wine that has the intensity of Cyclone Tracy but the grace and poise of Anna Pavlova. Voluptuous, rich and full of life, the Maiden Tonne has beautiful balance and lead-lined palate-weight but takes longer to finish than a Led Zeppelin rendition of Stairway to Heaven!  

The Sanguine Maiden Tonne isn’t an everyday drinking drop, and more of a collectable for oenophiles and cricket nufties alike. But supply is limited – though it might already be too late to grab one of those that are  gift boxed and hand signed by Allan Border himself! 

As published in The Courier Mail.


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