BY PHIL & LAUREN CHRISTIANSEN
Phil Christiansen was born in Adelaide in 1960. His parents both came from country South Australia - his mother from York Town and his father from a fruit growing family in Waikerie. His father was a banker, so much of Phil's early years were spent in regional South Australia; Pinnaroo, Freeling, Mount Pleasant and McLaren Vale.
After finishing school in 1977, Phil undertook technical studies to become a wool classer. Phil worked in the wool industry as a wool classer and Shearer until 1990. During this time he shore and wool classed in Western Victoria, South East of South Australia, Flinders Rangers, Western New South Wales and South West Queensland.
Phil met his wife Lauren in 1985 and after marrying in 1989 decided it was time to settle down and an opportunity arose in 1991 to work in the wine industry in his old stomping ground of McLaren Vale.
During the years from 1991 to 2000 Phil achieved the position of Master Cellarman at Hardy's Tintara. Although having no formal tertiary degree in wine science, his love of wine and winemaking led him to produce his first barrel of wine in their backyard in 1996.
Phil & Lauren produced their first commercial wine, a Shiraz, in 1999 using the facilities of another small winery in McLaren Vale. The wine received accolades in the US and this was the encouragement they needed to branch out on their own.
Using a rented, disused winery, with borrowed and second hand equipment, Phil created a space where like minded people could gather to produce artisan wines in small batches, and so the underground movement began.
Now known as the God Father of Garage, Phil and Lauren have developed a purpose built small batch winery on their 2 acre property in McLaren Vale, primarily working with quality small batch producers.
Phil has enhanced his winemaking knowledge with vintages in the Langudoc in 1997 and Bordeaux in 2003 and 2009. Phil's philosophy in winemaking is a non interventionalist approach with the wine predominately made in the vineyard, his job being to nurture it from vine to bottle.
Phil and Lauren have 3 children. Nicholas, Luke and Ella.
The 2005 Shiraz Reserve raises the bar. It was aged for 18 months in 50% new American oak and 50% used French oak. Purple/magenta in color, it presents an aromatic array of pain grille, scorched earth, plum, game, and blueberry. Layered and sweet, this full-bodied Shiraz has a solid structure, superb balance, and a long, pure finish. Give it 4-6 years to blossom and drink it through 2024. 92 ptsRobert Parker, Jr.'s The Wine Advocate #173
Inky ruby. Explosively perfumed nose displays exotic red and dark berry liqueur, Indian spices, cigar box and licorice. The juicy raspberry and cassis flavors are firmed by supple tannins and expand nicely through the finish. Impressively precise for a wine with such punch, finishing with outstanding persistence and a candied licorice quality. 91 ptsStephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 2007
This is a full-bodied, firmly structured Shiraz with plummy, intense aromas tinged with licorice and framboise. Bits of chocolate, mint and spice accent the plum and raspberry flavors, and the wine finishes crisp, dry and deeply textured. It should drink well from now through 2015.Wine Enthusiast 2008