Sentiō releases new wines

By J'aime Cardillo

30 May, 2024

Sentiō in Beechworth has released new wines. We spoke to owner and winemaker Chris Catlow about the new flagship red in the region, growing up at Sorrenberg, and what it's like to make single-site wines.

Sentiō has released its new wines. The collection includes the 2023 Captains Creek Ballarat Chardonnay, the 2023 Lusatia Park Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay, the 2023 Beechworth Shiraz, the 2021 Beechworth Chardonnay, along with the 2021 Beechworth Nebbiolo.

"Single-site chardonnay was the main focus for starting the brand," says Sentiō's owner and winemaker Chris Catlow. He established Sentiō in 2013 and, over the past decade, it has risen to cult-wine status.

"Making single-site wine is hard because they're not always the perfect wines." Chris says when he first started Sentiō, he'd have a wine from Macedon, the Yarra and a wine from Beechworth, and each would have made more complete wines if they were blended. 

Chris CatlowSentiō's Chris Catlow.

"But I think you just have to embrace the faith that no site is perfect. There's always great aspects about every site, but you've got to accept 'that's not right about that one' and 'that one has some really lovely characters, but isn't necessarily what you'd want to achieve there'. He says at Sentiō the ethos is to showcase great wines across a broad range of unique sites.

"I feel like when you make single-site wines, you've got to try to, especially across multiple regions, stand back and let them be what they're going to be and not necessarily search for perfection, but search for a kind of uniqueness."

Chris says when he first started Sentiō he tried to adhere more to what he thought people wanted to see. "In terms of oak volume, type of winemaking and certain things around reduction," and while he doesn't angle toward reduction as a key characteristic, he does like a little bit. "We try to go down the purity route a fair bit more – to try to get more consistency."

When it comes to malolactic fermentation (AKA malo or MLF), Chris says he doesn't have a strictly no MLF policy. "We're probably getting malo influence in wines now, more than in the past. But I think you're always changing with your winemaking and changing personally, and so that's changing the wine. I'm comfortable with where the wines sit and if they've got some malo influence that's okay, but we're certainly not strictly one way or the other. We don't probably age for as long as other producers in the area (as in the 18 months), but we're angling towards getting the wines to age beyond the 12-month mark, I think there's an important stage between 12, 14 and 16 months that really adds complexity."

Sentio wine being pouredChris says single-site chardonnay was his main focus when starting Sentiō.

Chris was born and raised in Beechworth. "I grew up running around vineyards around here since I was 12 and 13." He's been mentored by Barry Morey of Sorrenberg fame. "I helped him pick and spent a period of time around the farm when I was a youngster. I left and studied for a little bit, but came back and spent six to 12 months working with Barry when I was 18." Chris completed a double-major in viticulture science and wine science at La Trobe.

He says that Barry is probably the main reason he ended up in the wine industry. "Philosophically we make quite different wines, but Barry is the best person I know in the industry. His approach to vineyards, what he values in wine, what he values in growing fruit and what's important with wine, I think they're huge lessons to learn from someone like him.

"He certainly is a huge inspiration – in terms of trying to achieve what he's got, not necessarily any of the wines being the same, but in terms of the approach he's got for a piece of land and his approach for trying to employ people and harness younger people coming through."

Alongside his time at Sorrenberg, Chris' winemaking portfolio spans wineries like Paringa Estate, Kooyong (where he worked with Sandro Mosele) and Portsea Estate, along with a few-year stint in Burgundy.

Sentio nebbioloNebbiolo is taking over in Beechworth as the flagship red.

There's a trend among some of the Beechworth producers, where some are pulling out plantings of shiraz and making way for the new flagship red in nebbiolo. Chris says it's a trickier market at the moment, because there's so much shiraz.

"I think for us in Beechworth, if you love medium-bodied style shiraz, that's spicy and savoury, it's a joy to make. When I first started Sentiō I was making some shiraz but haven't done it for three or four years." The last shiraz he made, prior to the 2023, was a 2018.

"So some refreshed thought on the variety and bringing some different ideas, but certainly in terms of what I value and what I like to see in shiraz...generally in the spicier and kind of mid-weight." The 2023 is drinking well in its youth, and Chris says it's showing great balance, but is very fresh. "I think it will show its best in sort of three to five years. And certainly there's a good volume of tannin. It's quite a savoury wine and a structured wine, so it's a 10-plus-year wine easily."

He says there's a strong future for nebbiolo in Beechworth. "We're super keen to be part of it and it's probably going to be the main red focus for us going forward."

For more information and to shop new Sentiō wines visit

Image credit: Georgie James of By George Photo.