Sevenhill Cellars is Australia’s and possibly the world’s only remaining Jesuit owned winery. Sevenhill was established in 1851 when the Jesuits settled in the Sevenhill area of the Clare Valley in South Australia (close to Adelaide) and planted vines to produce sacramental wine. From these modest beginnings, the Jesuits' focus on wine has remained, with Sevenhill adding to its sacramental wine production with an extensive range of table wines that are highly regarded throughout the world.
Sevenhill's reputation reflects a commitment to the creation of distinctive wines that express the authentic styles and flavours of the Clare Valley, with modern winemaking skills and highly prized vineyards that provide high-quality, estate-grown fruit, some of which is sourced from vines among the oldest in the Clare Valley (over 150 years old - older than most French vines!)
Residing Jesuits are actively involved in Sevenhill's ongoing development in partnership with lay staff who shares the ethos of building the Jesuit Mission to support works of charity and compassion.
Sevenhill's wines are available through Abbelio Wines in Hong Kong. We carry some of their best wines, including their flagship wine, the Brother John May SJ Reserve Shiraz (JH:92, NEW!). This wine is named in honour of Brother John May, SJ: the Sevenhill Cellars' Jesuit Winemaker Emeritus. Brother May has been at Sevenhill since 1963 and the fruit for this wine is hand picked from a single block of high-quality, low yielding Shiraz vines which were planted by Brother May shortly after his arrival at Sevenhill Cellars. This is a beautiful, long lived, wine with rich berry flavours. Each bottle is individually numbered.
The Saints range
Sevenhill's "Saints" wines are their premium wines, and consist of a red and a white: the St. Ignatius and the St. Aloysius:
The St. Ignatius (JH:92) is a traditional Bordeaux Blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec too! Malbec is now more commonly associated with Argentina but it's originally from the south-west of France and it's rather nice to see it in this Australian take of the famous 'Bordeaux Blend'. The blackberry fruit is nicely concentrated and has lift from pertinent tannins that are well placed in this wine. An excellent food wine - especially good with red meats.
The St. Aloysius (JH:89, NEW!) is a classic Clare Valley Riesling. Concentrated elegant perfume indicates the finesse of the St Aloysius style. In the mouth, the wine combines the fresh zest of citrus flavours with the toasty, nutty character that comes from bottle age. The St Aloysius is a sophisticated wine that is notable for its purity of Riesling character.
The Inigo range
‘Inigo’ is the name given to Sevenhill’s single variety range of wines. The Merlot (JH:91) is ripe, juicy and plumy with a luscious mouth feel. The Cabernet Sauvignon (JH:88) is laden with benchmark blackcurrant fruit, whilst the Shiraz (JH:94) is a gregarious, peppery blockbuster. Last but not least is the Inigo Riesling (JH:91) an attractive, fruit-forward white with a crisp freshness.
The Dessert range
In Hong Kong we also carry Sevenhill's Fine Old Tawny (JH:87, NEW!). This is a red dessert wine made in the same style as Tawny Port. Sevenhill have been making this wine for over 150 years, with the wine maker carefully blending old and new vintages of old-vines wines each year.
Abbelio Wines have put together three carefully chosen mixed cases to introduce you to Sevenhill’s wines:
The Sevenhill Sampler Case allows you to try all of the Sevenhill wines we carry for a great price. We have included a bottle of the 2009 Br John May SJ Reserve Shiraz, both of the “Saints” wines and two bottles of each of the Inigo range. We have also included a bottle of the Fine Old Tawny so you experience the full range of wines we carry (total 12 bottles).
The Sevenhill Starter Case is for those that would like to start small. It has 6 bottles in total – one each of the “Saints” and “Inigo” range.
The Sevenhill New Wines case is for those that are already familiar with Sevenhill wines and would like to jus try the wines that have recently arrived in Hong Kong. This has 4 bottles – one each of the 2009 Br John May SJ Reserve Shiraz, 2009 St Aloysius, 2010 St Ignatius and Fine Old Tawny.
Sevenhill was established by Austrian Jesuits who fled their country to escape political and religious oppression.
Two Jesuit priests, Father Aloysius Kranewitter and Father Maximillian Klinkowstriom, travelled to Australia as chaplains to a group of 130 Catholics led by Franz Weikert, a Silesian farmer, whose vision was to establish a community in South Australia which could enjoy religious freedom.
The immigrants settled near the township of Clare and the Jesuits, impressed by the fertility of the local soil, purchased 100 acres of land in 1851, naming it Sevenhill after the Seven Hill district of Rome.
Sevenhill Cellars was established in the following years to provide sacramental wine in the emerging Catholic parishes around Australia, beginning Sevenhill’s respected tradition of Jesuit winemaking. The underground cellar was excavated by hand and the winery building was constructed from stone quarried on the property.
There have been seven Jesuit winemakers at Sevenhill, the most recent of whom is Jesuit Winemaker Emeritus, Brother John May, SJ, who still works closely with the winemaking team and is a passionate advocate of Sevenhill and the Clare Valley.
Local stone was also used to build Sevenhill’s two other significant religious landmarks. Construction of St Aloysius’ Church started in 1864 and, after several delays because of funding shortfalls, was substantially completed in 1875. The church has the only crypt below a parish church in Australia, which is the final resting place for 41 Jesuits. The College building, which operated as South Australia’s first Catholic secondary school from 1856-1886, was built in 1854 and also housed the Jesuit community and trainees. It remains the Jesuits’ home and is also hosts retreats and programmes of spiritual awareness.