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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Artisans of Barossa – John Duval Wines snapshot

Mar 02, 13 Artisans of Barossa – John Duval Wines snapshot

Posted by in Australia, Travel

On my flying trip to the Barossa, I stopped into visit the folks at Artisans of Barossa on my first afternoon. Artisans of Barossa is a collection of 7 Barossa wine makers who have banded together to showcase their different wine styles as well as the diversity of the terroir of the region. The 7 producers are: John Duval Wines, Hobbs of Barossa, Massena, Schwarz Wine Co. , Sons of Eden, Spinifex, and Teusner. They have a tasting room set amidst the vines which is set on a small hill and boasts lovely views of the area. Chef Mark McNamara has created a tempting selection of wine friendly food to have after you’ve finished tasting. Every weekend, one or two of the winemakers are on hand to pour their wines and chat with visitors. The day I visited, John Duval had taken some time out away from the harvest to man the tasting room. John was formerly the chief winemaker of Penfold’s for almost 30 years before finally setting up his own winery. He only makes 4 wines because he wants to put all his energy into making the best wine possible. John poured his 2012 Plexus white, a blend of marsanne, roussane, and viognier, first. John deliberately added only 10% viognier because he wanted the viognier to be evident on the palate but not on the nose and it is a rather subtle wine with delicate aromas emanating from the glass. The viognier does contribute a textured but not oily feel to the wine with honeysuckle, white fruits and a clean citrus finish on the palate. The Barossa has some of, if not the oldest vines in the world in the form of shiraz and the next wine, the 2011 Plexus  comes from vines that were planted in the 1850’s. It’s a blend of shiraz, grenache and mataro. Smooth and rounded tannins, spicy and savoury but still showing bright red fruits on the palate. An elegant wine with minerality and balanced acidity, delicious but...

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2013 Night Harvesting with Anthony Scholz in the Barossa Valley

Feb 27, 13 2013 Night Harvesting with Anthony Scholz in the Barossa Valley

Posted by in Australia, Travel

The one good thing about jetlag is that it’s not a problem to meet a wine grower at 5am to go out and see the harvesting machines at work. I’d been up since 4am so I was glad to be out and about. I was in the Barossa Valley for a very quick trip last week and serendipitously it was also the tail end of the harvest. 2013 happens to be a bit of a strange year in the Barossa as it’s a very early harvest but not because of any particular reason. It just seems that all the grapes are ready to come in at the same time. Every grower and wine maker I talked to couldn’t quite explain why the harvest was so early but they were unanimous in their opinion that although it will be a small harvest, the grapes were in excellent condition and 2013 is on course to be a great vintage. It might not be as good as 2012 but it certainly wouldn’t be far behind. How I came to be riding on top of a grape harvester is a funny story. I tweeted that I was going to the Barossa and would have time to meet anyone who had time to talk to me. Two seconds later, winegrower Anthony Scholz tweeted me an invitation and a week later, there I was watching this gigantic machine beat the hell out of the vines.Little did I know that Anthony is one of the most innovative growers in the Barossa but more on that later. If you’ve ever walked behind a grape harvester you will know it is loud and violent. I felt sorry for the  poor vines, as I commented to Anthony, it’s kinda like a mini-earthquake for them. He assured me though that the vines are sturdy suckers and judging by the aftermath of the harvester, they looked none the worse for wear to me. I later found out that the vines have so much water in them...

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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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