Being easy on the eye is a bonus for these new wines.

Cool cask wine? Look no further. The recent reinvention of Australia’s famed, innovative packaging has been given credence by the likes of Delinquente Wine Co, Latta Vino, Jilly Wine Co, Gonzo Vino, Trutta Wines, Saddlebag Wine and Yalumba‘s Winesmiths range, with Hey Tomorrow slotting nicely into the clique. While the volumes are relatively small compared with established cask wine brands, the cachet is high in these more avant-garde releases.

Stylish packaging catches the eye with Hey Tomorrow, its sleek design perhaps the most ambitious on the Australian market. The cast of winemakers is also eye-catching, with Dom Valentine (formerly Oakridge, now Valentine Wines), Ray Nadeson and team from Lethbridge, Philip Lobley of his eponymous project and Adam Foster of Syrahmi. The wines are vintage releases, eschewing typical blends, with top-flight wine the motif.

Hey Tomorrow also makes a commitment to sustainability with the packaging, and 50% of profits going to the Carbon Farming Foundation, a charity that focuses on greenhouse gas reduction in the Australian agricultural sector.

Foster says: “I jumped onto the opportunity and really wanted to put one of my best wines possible into the format. It’s great to see a commitment to quality in cask.” The 2019 Hey Tomorrow Syrah by Syrahmi, A$60, comes from Foster’s top-end vineyard resources in Heathcote. It’s a seriously good expression, perhaps the pick of these releases. Fragrant with white pepper, game meat, charcuterie and herb scents with ripe, rich raspberry fruit characters set amongst that suite of aromas. Flavours are similar, tannins shapely and the length is serious. I’d wager this is one of the best wines to hit a cask in the history of the format.

The 2020 Hey Tomorrow Rosé by Valentine, A$50, is a pitch-perfect park and picnic rosé. It’s produced from Yarra Valley pinot noir and has loads of perfume, fresh flavours and a mouth-watering freshness that delivers huge drinkability. Expect a bit of strawberries and cream, blood orange tart-sweetness and a little smudge of tannin giving structure. A true delight.

Pinot noir is the theme for 2020 Hey Tomorrow Pinot Noir by Lethbridge, A$75. There’s hallmark earth, spice and undergrowth characters that followers of Lethbridge will find familiar. The palate is crisp, loaded with red berry fruitiness, and licked with mint and eucalyptus freshness. While the texture is washy, this tightens up nicely in the fridge, where I suspect this wine will find a home in most people’s kitchens.

Merlot and pinot noir underpin the Philip Lobley wine from Yea Valley. The 2020 Hey Tomorrow Nouveau Red by Philip Lobley, A$55, is a bit more dry reddy, savoury, earthy and smoky than what I’d call a nouveau style, and feels a bit rugged and dull compared with the other three wines on offer from Hey Tomorrow. There’s an assumption the bushfires of 2020 in Victoria have made an impact here. That being said, drunk cold, the wine has some charm.

A wind of change is gently blowing through Coonawarra. The stalwart wine region with cabernet in its veins has seen growing ranks of experimental wines emerge in recent years. Raidis Estate has proven that innovative thinking pays dividends, and Kate Goodman’s project wines with Penley Estate have been sensational and wildly delicious with their disparate, vibrant personalities.

Patrick of Coonawarra’s generational change has come with similar outputs. I have an inkling over past years that there was a yearning to expand beyond comfort zones. The resolute Patrick cabernets have always been of quality and immense cellaring potential. The rieslings seem to fall under most radars, but they are arguably some of the most significant in Australia, with long lives and distinct charm. Status quo can be fine, but testing boundaries seems to be scratching an itch with this new, and strikingly packaged, ‘Méthode’ range of wines.

The 2020 Patrick of Coonawarra Méthode Skinny Riesling, A$32, is a foray into orange wines with portions of the riesling undergoing maceration before pressing off. There’s a really lovely fragrance to the wine reminiscent of light, white wine vermouths, with lively aromas of citrus and herbal botanicals. The palate is all about texture and tension with citrus flavours spiked with ginger. The wine finishes with a tonic water like pleasing bittersweetness. There’s refreshment and deliciousness in spades.

This is an excellent example of a more restrained and understated orange wine that presents with immediate appeal for both invested and new-to-the-style drinkers alike. The winemaking here is judiciously applied to eke out more complexity from the grape, rather than be a feature.

Lighter, fresher red styles are few and far between in Coonawarra, with winemakers typically focusing on medium to fuller weight, concentration and power, with oak seasoning usually robust. The 2020 Patrick of Coonawarra Méthode Cab Nouveau, A$32, has a mere two days on skins, resulting in a very bright and fresh expression of red wine. Scents of sour plum and tart cherry are echoed in the palate and there’s fragrant, fresh herb notes all through the wine. Texture is crunchy and the wine feels ideal for a good chill and warm day drinking. Coonawarra’s ‘park wine’ scene just found a new hero.

Perhaps the most striking and exciting wine, however, is the 2020 Patrick of Coonawarra Méthode Eucalypt Cabernet Sauvignon, A$32. The fruit is specifically selected for its proximity to the eucalyptus tree influence in the vineyards. Intentionally, eucalyptus characters abound.

It is a striking wine, compelling and fascinating, with the bedrock an exceptional, Coonawarra cabernet with the piquant, fragrant eucalyptus influence a strong but freshening seasoning in the plummy, darker fruit notes.

This is a truly thrilling development. The region feels in need of bright sparks and lateral thinking from some of the most tried and tested in the ranks. Patrick’s work here, alongside other contemporaries, is an essential part of drawing gaze to Coonawarra for future generations. The new generation of producers are quietly reimagining one of Australia’s most significant places, and we’re here to benefit. How neat.