Have you heard of [yellow tail] wines? Probably most of you have. A very popular wine label for many years here in North America. The wines are produced by the Casella family in Australia. But they are more than [yellow tail]. They have been producing higher tier wines, such as the Casella 1919 and Beyond Horizons labels, which will be introduced to BC and Canada, in part through the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Read on here in the Casella family’s words about their history, and wines, and visit their table at the Festival.
The Casella Story
The Casella family arrived in Australia from Sicily in 1957, bringing with them not only generations of family wine making, but the know-how to produce wines that are more than simply a drink with dinner. Family patriarch Filippo Casella who started the Casella family winery, instilled in his children how much hard work, dedication and skill went into making a great quality wine.
Casella’s second eldest son John grew up with vines in his veins, passionate about the heritage in which he came from and the artistry of making exceptional wines. He learnt much of his skill from his father, and continued his education at Charles Sturt University where he graduated with a degree in Oenology in 1982.
Whilst studying at Charles Sturt University, John began to form the philosophy that would eventually lead to [yellow tail]. Aware of the prevailing producer-led attitude, John didn’t believe anyone was truly addressing what consumers wanted. John felt there was a disconnect between the wines available at the time, and what consumers actually would like to drink, particularly at every day price points.
To fill this gap in the market, John envisioned a style of wine for daily drinking that would be soft, round, and approachable, a way to celebrate everyday occasions. This vision, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit, led him to create a fun and non-traditional wine brand that focussed entirely on the consumer, and was committed to demystifying wine to make it more accessible. With that, [yellow tail] wine was born.
Identifying the US consumer as a key target for his new wine brand, the company was propelled to the forefront of the export arena in mid-2001 by the hugely successful launch of [yellow tail]. Casella Family Brands has continued to achieve remarkable success in the export market and is a now key player in Canada, Europe and Asia.
The brand has grown to be the Most Powerful Australian Wine Brand in the World and fourth Most Powerful Wine Brand globally. Casella Family Brands exports over 12 and a half million cases of [yellow tail] to more than 50 countries around the world every year, and more than two and a half million glasses of [yellow tail] are enjoyed around the world each day.
With massive strides made in the table wine sector, John has most recently turned his hand to creating wines in the premium and super premium wine spaces to astounding success. The inaugural 2006 vintage of Casella 1919 Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz , have won a total of 20 international awards between them.
The recent acquisition of Peter Lehmann Wines marks another significant milestone in the company’shistory. The extension of the brand portfolio to include PLW gives CFB an incredible range of premium wines that highlight the enormous diversity of the Barossa and its sub-regions, and John is excited by the possibility of growing PLW’s reach into key export markets, such as Canada.
John is delighted that Australia is the theme country for the VIWF this year, as he strongly believes in wineries around the country coming together to showcase the best that the country has to offer. His winemaking philosophy is to create the best possible wines with the resources available to us, in order to consistently over deliver on quality. The premium wines Casella will present at the VIWF are a true expression of this.
John Casella has always been passionate about winemaking. Globally famous for creating [yellow tail], a great quality everyday wine at an affordable price point, this success arguably overshadows his award winning prowess and excellence in premium winemaking. The release of the new Casella 1919 range is set to change that, as Casella Family Brands makes its move into the super-premium wine category.
John Casella has combined his excellent winemaking skills and passion of the vine to create Casella 1919, an ultra-premium wine targeting discerning wine consumers.
The name of the wine is steeped in history with 1919 being the year that the first vineyard was planted on Farm 1471 in Australia’s Riverina region, the farm that would eventually become thehome of Casella Family Brands. 1919 also marks the year John Casella’s grandfather, Giuseppe Casella, and Maria’s grandfather, Giovanni Patane, returned to Sicily from the Great War to teach their children the art of winemaking.
Casella 1919, the pinnacle of the Casella Family Brands portfolio, celebrates John’s family and their heritage in winemaking with a range of two red wines from the esteemed 2006 vintage – Casella 1919 Shiraz from the Barossa Valley and Casella 1919 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Limestone Coast in South Australia. Due to the strength of Casella’s relationships with some of Australia’s top growers, John has access to some of the best fruit in the country. Over the past eight years he has actively been purchasing parcels of top-end fruit from outstanding vintages.
After acquiring fruit from the esteemed 2006 vintage in South Australia, John began crafting a small quantity of wines that he could give as a gift to those that had supported him throughout his journey.The intention was for these special wines to be enjoyed amongst family and friends, but he was so proud of them that he decided to make the wines available commercially.
Working on a museum wine program, John has been creating wines from these exceptional parcels and holding them back for barrel and bottle maturation, before release in time for optimal drinking.With his wine ready to be released to the world, Casella 1919 makes its debut at the VIWF.
Having already piqued the interest of critics from around the wine world, John hopes the range will be equally well received by the Canadian market.
Casella 1919 2006 Shiraz: Made from grapes sourced from old vines in Barossa Valley, South Australia, this wine has subtle red brick hues and aromas of red stone fruit, cassis and freshly cracked black pepper. Firm,full tannins balance the wine and add a velvety texture and mouth-feel.
Casella 1919 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Made from grapes sourced from the Limestone Coast, South Australia (Wrattonbully/Coonawarra), this wine has an intense deep crimson colour and a complex aroma showing layers of fruit cake, red currants and toasted spice from the oak barrels. Intense and rich flavours of red berries and liquorice fill the mouth and the well-integrated oak brings hints of dark chocolate and coffee. Fine tannins, an elegant structure and a long-lasting finish allow the flavours of this wine to do the talking.
In 1957, Fillipo and Maria Casella immigrated from Italy in search of a fresh start on foreign shores. In Australia, they found a country that dared to dream; a country with spirit and vitality. They embraced the opportunities their new home offered, and put generations of family winemaking expertise into practice to create quality wines to be enjoyed amongst family and friends.
John Casella, now General Manager of Casella Family Brands, known for the widely distributed [yellow tail] wine, has introduced a new era of winemaking to the company. Taking the methods taught to him by his father and his well-honed technical skills, John has been able to source the best parcels of fruit from Australia’s vast landscape to create a portfolio of premium wines with varietal integrity. It is the celebration of a journey that began with exploration beyond the horizon, and culminated in the realisation of a dream.
The Casella Beyond Horizons range has been skilfully created to provide as stepping stone into the Casella premium portfolio. Specific fruit parcels have been selected from some Australia’s most highly regarded wine regions, to ensure the wines deliver true varietal distinction, vibrant fruit intensity and a textured mouth feel.
The range includes a Shiraz and Pinot Grigio that are vibrant, rich and generous wines that retains their delicacy and elegance. Both can be enjoyed now, or cellared for up to 4 years from vintage.
Beyond Horizons 2014 Pinot Grigio: Pale colour, delicate aromas of ripe fruits, hints of pear, apples and grassy back note. On the palate red apples up front with a crisp/refreshing citrus acid line and a slight grassy finish. Mouth weight is light and refreshing.
Beyond Horizons 2013 Shiraz: Dark red with genuine purple hues, concentrated red flesh fruits, plums and cassis. Spicy aromas with subtle hints of oak and earthy tones. The palate is generous, with a firm structure that is typical of an Australian Shiraz, fresh vibrant red concentrated fruits and a peppery edge, firm tannins that add length and complement the silky oak profile. Savoury & textured mouth feel that adds layers of complexity to this wine that speaks in length and fruit purity.