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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Saturday snapshot – Yalumba Viognier Y series 2012

Feb 09, 13 Saturday snapshot – Yalumba Viognier Y series 2012

Posted by in Australia, Saturday Snapshot

The Queen of Australian Viognier, Louisa Rose was in town recently** to show off her wines and I was happy to be invited to a luncheon and tasting showcasing what she has been able to produce in the Australian  vineyards. Louisa has been working as Chief Winemaker for Yalumba winery, based in the Barossa, since 2006 but she first joined Yalumba in 1993 as, what we fondly refer to in the trade, a “cellar rat“. She has been with Yalumba ever since and has worked her way up through the ranks, learning from the legendary winemakers of Yalumba. Early on in the 1970s, Yalumba was captivated by the Viognier grape  (which originally hails from the Rhone region of France) and they planted what began as an experiment. Over the years they discovered that they vines did very well in  the cool climate Eden Valley region of the Barossa and it is from these vines that the majority of their Viognier is cultivated. They also source fruit from a number of additional sites in South Australia. The Viognier that Louisa and Yalumba are producing is made to be drunk with food. A big difference that I found with Yalumba’s Viogniers were the fact that although aromatic, they were not as aromatic as some Rhone wines. This is a good thing in my book as French Viogniers can sometimes knock you over with their powerful aromatics. Another quality that I admired very much in their Viogniers was the freshness and the minerality that ran through the wine. The most consumer-friendly wine that Yalumba produces is the Y Series Viognier. We tasted the 2012 before lunch and it was a cracker of a wine. Fresh and attractive nose with hints of citrus, melon and papaya it had a medium body with good weight but none of the oiliness that is often found in Rhone Viogniers. It was what I would call a sprite of a wine, a friendly wine to start one on a discovery of the Viognier grape. Although it carried alcohol levels...

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Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Oct 29, 12 Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine, France, restaurants

One of the things I love about wine, among the many, are the back stories that go with them. Meeting the winemakers or owners and listening to their tales of how the wine came to be, is fascinating and for me, always enhances the wine drinking experience. I had just returned to London from a long press trip but wasn’t going to let that stop me and went straight from Southampton to The Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair to meet Carol Duval-Leroy, her son Julien and their winemaker, Sandrine Logette-Jardin. I do love champagne and never say no if I can help it! What piqued my interest about Duval-Leroy was the fact that Carol took over after the untimely death of her husband about 20 years ago. She has not only kept the house going but is also the only woman to head a champagne house today. She now runs the house with the along with her three sons. Much like the original Veuve Clicqout of the 1700’s, she has not only continued but made many innovations as well as producing top quality champagne. The House is one of the few that uses organic grapes for their Brut Champagne and their tasting room is the only one in Champagne to  incorporate photovolataic panels, have a system for retrieving rainwater and have soundproofed it with a wall of vegetation. Over 40% of the Estate is made up of Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages on the Cotes des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. But enough of that, on to lunch. We started with the Fleur de Champagne 1er Cru, made from 100% Premier Cru grapes, they call it the Fleur because the nose is very floral. A blend of 70/30 chardonnay/pinot noir, it was light and fresh, a great aperitif and way to start the lunch. The Rose Prestige 1er cru is made by letting the must goes through an 18 to 20 hr maceration before malolactic fermentation and then a blend of rose saignee and white...

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Podcast – Louisa Rose, Chief Winemaker of Yalumba, talks about their viognier and shiraz viognier blends

Oct 25, 12 Podcast – Louisa Rose, Chief Winemaker of Yalumba, talks about their viognier and shiraz viognier blends

Posted by in Australia, Podcast

Recently the “Queen of Australian Viognier”, Louisa Rose, was in town as part of a large contingent of Australian winemakers to hit our shores. Louisa is the Chief Winemaker of the Barossa Valley’s Yalumba Wines and has been deeply involved with the production of their viognier. She’s started out as a cellar rat 20 years ago and in 2006 was made Chief Winemaker. I met Louisa at a small tasting and luncheon at 2850 Wine Workshop and Kitchen  here in London which featured Yalumba’s viogniers and shiraz viognier blends. Before lunch, Louisa and I sat down for a quick chat about what makes their viognier so special. Click on the link below to hear the podcast: Louisa Rose, Chief Winemaker of Yalumba. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Oct 15, 12 Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Posted by in New Zealand wine, Podcast

New Zealand winery, Yealands Estate recently won a slew of awards at the International Wine Challenge 2012 (The International Sauvignon Blanc Award, The James Rogers Award and the Marlborough White Wine Award), pretty impressive for a winery that only produced its first wines in 2008. Their chief winemaker, Tamra Washington was in town to collect the awards and on a European tour to promote their wines. I had dinner with Tamra in Brixton at Upstairs where I had the opportunity to ask Tamra about her awards, where she things New Zealand sauvignon blanc is going in the future and about the exciting possibilities that Yealands has with a block of pinot noir she discovered in Otago. Click on the link below to hear the podcast: Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate, New Zealand. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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