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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Some Young Punks hanging around Imbibe

I love kitsch. I should have been a teenager in the 1950’s, although then it would have been high culture. I would have been an avid reader of anything pulp fiction. “Spicy Adventure Stories”,  “Unwilling Sinner”, “Sin on Wheels”, I would have collected them all! So when I spotted Passion has Red Lips by Some Young Punks, South Australian winemakers, at the Imbibe show recently, I had to stop. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I couldn’t stop myself from trying the wine. I know I shouldn’t have been suckered in by the label but I was…. So what are Some Young Punks up to? A trio of winemakers causing havoc in South Australia, the grapes come from Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, the Barrosa, Adelaide Hills and any other appellation I may have missed from that part of the world. The punks credo is to make “charismatic wines that are true to what we think ‘wine’ should be about. If someone doesn’t like the way we do it then they had better put the bottle down because there’s already not enough to go around.” Although they may seem like they’re kidding around, these winemakers, Col McBryde, Jen Gardner and Nic Bourke make some serious wine. These wines are seriously Australian as well. There is no mistaking the ethnicity of these wines. Heaps of fruit, full on, in your face, don’t mess with me reds. Subtle is not a word often heard around these wines. The 2009 Passion has Red Lips certainly lives up to it’s name. A blend of McLaren Vale cabernet and Clare Valley shiraz, passionately berry, extremely perfumed, I took a step back after taking a sip. Juicy plums, blackberries, blackcurrants and a smoky edge to it all on a lush, full body. Phew! I still don’t get the name of the next wine, The Squid’s Fist 2009. Do squids even have hands? No? How do they have fists then? Anyway, I suppose that’s something to ponder while you down this...

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Video winetasting – Wakefield Chard from Oz

There seems to be a lot of debate in the twitterverse at the moment about free samples and whether or not we bloggers seem to “owe” it to the wineries (or PR flacks) positive reviews. And how objective are our reviews if they’re free? I don’t think I “owe” anyone a good review because they’ve given me wine. Although they’re probably banking on me writing a positive one. It may be a tough balancing act but I find that I write about wines I’ve enjoyed  as opposed to wines I’ve disliked. Why? Well, there are enough negative people out there and intelligent readers of my blog have probably already figured out what syle of wines I prefer anyway. Besides, my motto is “always looking for the good stuff”, do you really want to read about the bad stuff? If so, drop me a line and I’ll start bashing wineries and their wines left, right and centre.  I do consider myself lucky in that, since I work in the wine industry, I have trade access that other winebloggers  may not. And, living in London (which really is the centre of wine universe) I’m lucky enough to be able to attend the numerous trade tastings that seem to be constantly on the calendar.   So why am I talking about samples? Because I got one the other day, that’s why! It’s from Wakefield winery, based in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Wakefield Estate wines were the first estate grown and bottled wines from Wakefield winery and were first released in 1973. Since then they have been consistently winning national and international awards. The estate is situated in the Clare Valley on Australia’s famed “terra rosa” . Check out their website to get the full story. In the meantime, I received the ’07 Wakefield Cabernet and the  ’07 Wakefield Chardonnay. I did a bit of winetasting and cheesematching with the chard, check out the video…. [viddler id=d2973d84&w=437&h=333] And the ’07 Wakefield cabernet? I liked it, here are my brief notes: nose –  first impression, fresh – ripe, rich blackcurrants, lots of minty goodness,...

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