Charles Melton began winemaking at Krondorf Wines in 1974, followed by Saltram, then to Peter Lehmann Wines in 1979. In 1984 Charles and his wife Virginia established Charles Melton Wines in Tanunda, within the Barossa Valley. Charles (or Charlie, as he’s usually called) was pivotal in helping to recognise the value of old-vine plantings of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre (in the famed GSM blend that originated in the Rhȏne Valley), at a time when shiraz in particular was falling out of favour with the wine-drinking public. Vineyards include 7ha at Lyndoch, 9ha in Krondorf, 1.6ha in Light Pass and over 30ha in High Eden (a subregion of Eden Valley), with most planted to shiraz, grenache and cabernet. A 5ha vineyard includes varieties most likely unknown to many wine drinkers, such as cinsault, picpoul, carignan and bourboulenc. In 2007, Charlie became one of the ‘Barons of the Barossa’, an organisation made up of individuals who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the Barossa Valley.
Each wine has an evocative name, such as ‘Grains of Paradise Shiraz’, ‘The Reformation Old Vine Grenache’, and ‘La Belle Mere.’ ‘Rose of Virginia’ is named in honour of Charlie’s wife, and it is classed by many as one of the best rosés in Australia. Charlie’s most popular and most lauded wine is a GSM blend known as Nine Popes, which was first made in 1988 and was the first GSM blend from the Barossa Valley. The name takes its inspiration from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation in the Rhȏne Valley where much GSM is produced, and which is close to the city of Avignon, the residence of Catholic popes from 1309-1377. Charlie also makes a dessert wine in the style of an Italian ‘vin santo’, called Sotto di Ferro, which translates as ‘under the iron’, due to the grapes being dried under a corrugated iron roof.
More information on Charlie’s superb wines can be found on his website.