It’s not an unfamiliar story for a top sommelier or restaurant/bar owner to be lured into decamping from their night job and setting up shop on the other side of the fence, making wine. Nor is it uncommon for a sommelier to dabble in making wine, to greater and lesser degrees. What is less typical,…
Simon Killeen Simão & Co. Wines
The Killeen name carries with it a good degree of history, as well as the weight of Rutherglen wine royalty. Simon Killeen is the seventh, and most recent, generation of his family to ply his trade as a winemaker, but he has broken the mould somewhat by venturing out on his own, eschewing the family eponym and fashioning wines under his Simão & Co. label (Simão being the Portuguese equivalent of Simon).
Simon’s father and grandfather were responsible for some of the finest fortified wines ever made in this country, with his father, Chris, pioneering a drier, more elegant style of ‘port,’ built on a foundation of classic Portuguese varieties, most of which he planted in the early 1990s. And while Simon isn’t working under the family name – with whatever cachet or burden that may bring – he does draw on a deep resource of multi-generational knowledge about the vineyards of North-East Victoria.
Simon has worked vintages in various wineries across the country, including at Brokenwood and Voyager Estate, and also in the Northern Rhône at Chapoutier, in Burgundy with Benjamin Leroux, and, naturally, in Portugal, at the great port houses of Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft. This globetrotting crystallised in Simon what a great and varied resource he already had available to him in North-East Victoria, a panoply of sites in striking distance that could generate wines of both cool elegance and rugged intensity.
With a range that covers significant territory, from the Alpine and King Valleys to Beechworth, Glenrowan and Rutherglen, Simon makes wine from all five of the North-East’s regions. A skin-contact ugni blanc, his individual take on sauvignon blanc, nebbiolo and tempranillo from the Alpine Valleys, a pair of shiraz, one from Beechworth and the other from gnarled century-old vines in Glenrowan, as well as a vintage fortified, which was the original spark of inspiration that led to launching his label in 2014.