Wirra Wirra ‘s Trebuchet, Lost Watches and Church Blocks

Apr 05, 13 Wirra Wirra ‘s Trebuchet, Lost Watches and Church Blocks

Posted by in Australia

Quick! Off the top of your head,do you know what a trebuchet is? Unless you’re  a fan of Australian winery Wirra Wirra or a Medievelist, you probably wouldn’t know it’s another word for “catapult”. That was one nifty bit of trivia I picked up while having lunch with Sam Temme, International Sales Manager for Wirra Wirra. We were at the Spanish restaurant, Camino, and enjoying tapas with the delicious wines of Wirra Wirra. The vineyard was originally planted by Robert Strangeways Wigley but fell into disrepair after his death in 1924 and it was not until 1969 when the property was bought by cousins Greg and Roger Trott that the vineyard was revitalized. Gregg was apparently quite a character and liked to give his wines, er, unique names. Besides the “Catapult” shiraz, there is the “Lost Watch” riesling (named after a lost watch, natch), “Woodhenge” shiraz (use your imagination) and the “12th Man” Chardonnay (something to do with cricket but Sam lost me there) as well as a few other whimsically named wines. The vineyards of Wirra Wirra are in the McClaren Vale and have a great site, only 7 kms from the ocean which means the vines benefit from the ocean and gully breezes that blow over the vines. They own their own vineyards which are certified biodynamic but as they use grapes from growers as well, they cannot guarantee that their wines are biodynamic. We tried a variety of Wirra Wirra’s wine including the above mentioned wines as well as a few others. The Lost Watch 2011 is a riesling and in another bit of trivia, when Greg discovered he had lost the watch his father had given him, he swore never to wear another watch again,which might explain why he was rarely on time for anything. The  Lost Watch is a light and lively little number, almost water clear, it doesn’t have as much zip as say its Eden Valley counterparts but nonetheless, it is a refreshing, limey riesling. Another crowd...

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Steingarten riesling and Jacob’s Creek Visitor’s Centre

Mar 14, 13 Steingarten riesling and Jacob’s Creek Visitor’s Centre

Posted by in Australia, Travel

Laying by the pool at the Novotel Hotel in Barossa Valley, the last thing I wanted to do was leave, especially considering this was my last chance to get some sun before returning to grey England but I had an appointment with  Jacob’s Creek and so I reluctantly left the pool, headed for the Steingarten riesling vineyard. However, once I met up with James Keane from Jacob’s Creek and we were standing on top of the Hill of Grace, I was glad I had abandoned the pool. We were standing on a hill overlooking the vines of Steingarten, a legendary riesling vineyard of the Barossa Valley. Colin Gramp originally dynamited the hills to plant the vines in the rocky soil and planted roughly 1000 vines on side of the windy hilltop. Jacob’s Creek still uses grapes from this plot to make the Steingarten although they do source grapes from the Eden Valley, which the vines face, in the distance. Steely, pure and intense, James and I had a glass of the Steingarten riesling before toasting the vines with the leftovers in our glass. Afterwards we did a brief tour of some of the other vineyards of Jacob’s Creek before lunch. After that we headed over to the new visitor’s centre recently opened by Jacob’s Creek. Now I know Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a reputation in the UK as being a cheap supermarket wine but the Australians keep all the good stuff for themselves. I have to admit I had certain prejudices regarding Jacob’s Creek’s wines but over there they have lots of interesting wines available. We sat down to lunch and I had a choice of 3, what James called, ‘new varieties’ of Australia, fiano, vermentino and arneis. Jacob’s Creek likes to experiment and these 3 are part of ‘cellar door only’ wines available to the public. The other ‘new varieties’ included montepulciano, tannat, negroamaro, mataro (mouvedre, not really a ‘new variety’ so to speak as it’s been grown in the Barossa...

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Oldest vines in Australia (and maybe the world) at Langmeil Winery, Barossa Valley

Mar 09, 13 Oldest vines in Australia (and maybe the world) at Langmeil Winery, Barossa Valley

Posted by in Australia, Travel

That’s James Lindner, hanging out with the 170 yr old shiraz vines that he and his family own and use to produce their top wines. Australia has some of the oldest pre-phylloxera vines in the world and the Barossa is where you will find these 170 year old survivors. The Freedom vineyard was planted in 1843 by German immigrants fleeing religious persecution. See, here’s the plaque: Over the years, it went though various owners and at one point was abandoned but in 1996, the Lindner and Bitter families bought the old winery and resusitated not only the winery but also the small patch of old vine Shiraz that still bore fruit every year. With lots of love and attention, they are now producing a wine called the 125 yr Freedom Shiraz. I meet with James (Jim) Lindner for a tour of the winery and quick tasting while they were going harvest was going on. Like many of the boutique wineries I visited while I was there, they use a combo of old and new technology to produce their wines, so while they may use carefully calibrated hydraulic presses they also do open vat fermentation. I got to taste some shiraz just pressed and it is mighty impressive stuff even when just pressed, a deep dark colour but still sooo sweet, definitely hadn’t started fermentation. I asked Jim to give me his assessment of the juice and 2013 harvest – a small and early harvest this year: (apologies for the link only, this is from Vine, at least you know it’s only 6 seconds long!) Afterwards we headed to the tasting room for a tasting of their iconic wines. They make a series of Old Vine Garden wines, the Freedom Shiraz – made from the oldest shiraz vines, the Orphan Bank shiraz which is made from vines that were rescued by the winery (the vines were about to be bulldozed over when they stepped in, dug up the vines and replanted them on their property),...

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Chateau Tanunda, a busy ER at harvest time

Mar 04, 13 Chateau Tanunda, a busy ER at harvest time

Posted by in Australia, Travel

I’ve never actually visited a winery while they’re in the middle of harvest so it was fun and exciting to be there. Dodging tractors, forklifts, hose pipes, wet floors and empty barrels while de-stemming, crushing and fermenting is going on literally right under your nose makes it a whole lot more exciting then the usual “…and here is where we keep the barrels…” Although I still did spy roomfuls of barrels. *Geek Alert* I never get tired of the sight and smell of resting barrels. My guide was the effervescent senior winemaker of Ch. Tanunda, Stewie Bourne. A bundle of energy who came bouncing into the tasting room and immediately offered to make us all espressos, (although I don’t think he needed another one) before we visited the vats. Stewie compared the winery to a hospital emergency room and he and his staff are the ER staff. Their job is to take the car crash victim (the ripe grapes) from the vineyard and get them in the vats (IC) as soon as possible, hopefully they make it through IC and then off to the wards (tanks) where they can rest up before being discharged to the general public. An funny but apt metaphor for harvest. The winery was originally founded in the 1890’s and the ceiling of the huge tasting room is still fitted with the original wooden beams that came over as ballast with Australian settlers. At Chateau Tanunda they make wine in the traditional way, with open vat fermentation and minimal intervention. When the grapes come in,they only de-stem them but don’t crush them at first so that the result is lifted fruit and soft tannins. They have hydraulic presses which are programmed to exert just the right amount of pressure during press, not too much, not too little. The aim is to produce wines that are authentic but not aggressive. While we were there, Stewie literally plunged into the open vats and came out with a glass full of fermenting grape...

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Postcard from Adelaide – National Wine Centre of Australia

Feb 20, 13 Postcard from Adelaide – National Wine Centre of Australia

Posted by in Australia, Travel

I’m in the lovely city of Adelaide at the moment and yesterday I spent a good part of the day wondering the city. As I’m in one of the major wine producing states of Australia, it was no surprise to learn that they have the National Wine Centre of Australia right here in the town. The Centre is inside the Botanical Gardens which can make for a nice stroll to get there. The Centre is on the edge of the Gardens so you can also drive up and park nearby. Officially opened in 2004, the beautiful building housing the Centre has one of the largest open cellars in the Southern Hemisphere, they have up to 38,000 bottles with 12,000 in the cellar at any time. The Centre architecture has won quite a few awards and it’s a unique construction of steel and wood, very cool and sleek. There are  interactive displays including interviews with Australian winemakers and even a make your own wine display. I found that a lot of fun, especially considering my Eden Valley riesling was ‘awarded’ a Silver Medal 😉 They offer free daily tours at 11:30 everyday but you can walk in anytime for a self guided tour. Afterwards, there is a cafe on the ground floor where they offer regional and varietal wine tastings, all at very reasonable prices. The great thing about Adelaide is that wine is soooo reasonably priced. A fun way to get an overview of Australian wine before you head out to the vineyards. The Centre is open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm Located at the corner of Botanic and Hackney Roads. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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