Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Recent Jancis Robinson Reviews

 With many thanks to our friend and neighbour, fellow Nebbiolo grower Karen Coats at Virago vineyard, Jancis Robinson has had a splurge on Beechworth wine recently.

Two articles followed: one behind the paywall and one in the Financial Times which was open access.
Nebbiolo, just before picking.
"I was particularly impressed by the Beechworth Chardonnays." was followed by "What was more surprising was how good the Nebbiolos are."  

 OK, so I'm not insane.  I have thought those sentences were true for many years.   Now I have the World's premier wine reviewer to back me up.

She was very complimentary of Marc Scalzo's Piano Piano wines, (but I have said that before ) , Karen's Virago Nebbiolo, and Peter Graham's Domenica wines as well.

For those of you who are interested, our Nebbiolo is currently out of stock, so the best way to ensure you have an allocation at the next release is to drop us a note via email/text, or anything really.

Our Amphitheatre white 2014 is currently available and at the moment Karen is offering a mixed Beechworth dozen of wines included in this review.

Finally the primary sources: the full Beechworth Article is available to subscribers of JancisRobinson.com.  I urge you to subscribe, its only
UK pounds 6.99/month.

The other article in the FT and Open Access JR has less detail, but it's not hard to get the gist.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Vintage 2016

Views of vintage this year.

Our Amphitheatre vineyard backs onto a State owned parcel of bush around the old Everton Upper Train station (now part of the Rail Trail bicycle path).  The CFA took the chance of a suitable break in the weather in December to do a controlled burn.  Dramatic visually, but no problem for us and it makes everyone a lot safer.
Did you think there wouldn't be a photo of an Orb Weaving spider on the tractor this summer?  The picking crew has a very different reaction to me.  Ros absolutely shrieks when she sees one.  Mike, a young bloke who talks about his goal-kicking prowess is very worried about spiders and bees (but his mate Matt laughs and wants to throw them at him).                                                                                                                              And then for some reason the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival holds a public weekend of tasting in the middle of vintage. Here I am at Southbank with Ricky James of James & Co, a Beechworth Sangiovese specialist.  

And now we have just finished picking.  The Nebbiolo from our Twins vineyard is the last thing fermenting away in the cellar, but it smells better than ever before.  Each time I open the door an aroma of roses greets me.                                         With a few rows of new plantings coming online every year, we will have a little more Nebbiolo to try to meet demand with each successive year.  The best way to make sure you get a six pack is to email us as soon as you can.       

Thursday, 14 May 2015

New Releases dinner at the Plough Inn

Dinner at the Plough Inn 
 Start winter with wine.   On Monday 1st June 2015 we will be releasing a new batch of the 2014 white wines and 2013 red wines.
Dinner will be 3 courses of Andrew Rosquet's beautiful food to match 4 wines (or maybe 5?) for $65 per person.
We will have a couple of our Cow Hill wines and a few Oxenbury Vineyard wines as well.

The Plough Inn at Tarrawingee hosts the Hidden Gem Cellar door, where 9 small local vineyards (us included) have tastings and sales.

Call the Plough Inn to book: 5725 1609,

Monday 1 June, 7pm.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cellar door open.

Taste our wines at the Hidden Gem Cellar door part of the Plough Inn at Tarrawingee, just down the road from us.   Andrew and Feona Roscouet have spent  a year putting a lot of love into this local country pub, and to go with their fine French restaurant have opened the Hidden Gem cellar door.
9 small family owned local vineyards are available for tasting (current releases where applicable) and for purchase at Cellar Door prices.  It's also possible to taste and purchase the wines to take in to dinner at the restaurant.

Other local wineries at the Hidden Gem include Piano Piano, Fighting Gully Rd and Giaconda.

For more info, drop into or call the Plough Inn.
2322 Wangaratta Beechworth Road, Tarrawingee VIC 3678, Australia
Phone:+61 3 5725 1609   theploughinn.com.au  Or on facebook


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Eriophora transmarina (?)

Hello little spider.  This orb weaving spider often jumps on the tractor when I am spraying or doing a similar job in the vineyard.  Well, I doubt it is the same one every day (there are often more than one a day).
There are 260 identified species of this family, so I am using the advise of Ed Nieuwenhuys.  None of this Genus is poisonous, thanks for asking.  They make a new web every night at human chest/head height (not on purpose) and hide during the day; so orchards, garden and vineyards are perfect habitat for them.

Do not open this link if you are arachnophobic.  http://ednieuw.home.xs4all.nl/australian/Spidaus.html

They are not the only spider we find in the vineyard.  Look at the Christmas spider on Ed's website.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Shiraz tasting

One of the most boring things a wine industry type can do is bang on about a list of wines they have tasted recently like some sychophantic celebrity-navel-gazer, name dropping and frothing superlatives at all who come near.   So that's precisely what I'm about to do.

Don't read on if you're not a bit obsessed by shiraz wines.

Unusually, one of our local winemakers managed to produce a tasting of several outstanding shiraz wines which were nearly all around 13.5% alcohol rather than the Australian industry norm of over 15%.  These weren't wines you have never heard of.  In fact, they were actually some of the most acclaimed wines on Australia and a few comparable French shiraz wines.

Here are my comments, and a completely subjective selection of the comments made by the rest of the gathered folk.

So all the wines were from the 2006 vintage.  It was a good vintage in many Australian wine regions as well as the Rhone Valley.
Not all wines tasted are reviewed: only the ones that I regard as worth mentioning.

Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard shiraz 2006, Hunter Valley, NSW

I found all the wines pretty typical of their region in character, and in the case of this wine it had a pretty dull bouquet, but much more life on the palate.  (OK, so I did not expect this much liveliness on the palate from a Hunter Valley wine: that says a lot about the wine).
The bricky-dry aroma seemed a bit tired to me, but part of that is oak, and part of that is climate.  
To drink this wine, however, is a large step from just smelling it.  It has a leathery, sweet density.  It is alive with concentrated sweet fruit, drying tannins and tar and leather savoury character.  The wine is lovely to drink, deep and complex, both in the subtle but rich character of the fruit-derived flavours and the more ethereal earthy, very complex aged flavours.  It reveals more over time: half an hour in the glass gave more intrigue than the first impression. 
And yet, I found this wine unexciting. Then I was told it was $300 a bottle.  
I must confess that I grew up in Sydney and spent 10 years in the business with the Hunter Valley as the  premium wine region in my sphere of influence.   After a long search, we settled in Beechworth.  Wine style must have a lot to do with my preferences, so you need to consider that when you read this column. 

Bests Great Western Shiraz Bin 0, 2006, Vic

Now this wine I liked very much.  I know that Bests have a reputation that goes back many, many years, and I have bought their wine infrequently in the past.  

At the risk of over-simplifying my description of these wines, this wine has the style of the traditional Victorian shiraz from many years ago.  But I really need to point out that even the traditional style has had modern influences.  The best traditionally styled wines are brighter and stronger.  They don't have the weird, smelly, off-aromas that you might associate with "traditional" winemaking.  They have cleaned up their methods without compromising their style.

This wine has a softer, subtler character than the other wines we tasted.  I really believe this suppleness is part of the old-fashioned style.   It has a leather and mild spice nose, but the palate has a really lovely depth of flavour.  There is a hint of eucalyptus coming over the top of the sweet, complex fruit and the leathery texture. The flavours are rich and deep, and the structure firm with drying tannins and long lasting.  

To my mind, this wine was the best suited to our meal of grilled lamb chops: it had a savoury character and firm structure that managed to cope with the strong meat and grill flavours.

Giaconda 'Warners' Vineyard' shiraz 2006, Beechworth, Vic

Most of the winemakers in Beechworth are migrants.  And for many of us, the reason we chose to move here and grow wine was that we like the style of wine that is made here.  No surprises then that most of us prefered this wine.

There are a few real points of difference between this wine and the others in the tasting.  Firstly, the Giaconda has so much more bouquet: spice, violets and generally more fruit complexity.  I guess this comes form various factors, but regionality, terroir, soil must all play a part.  A dash of Roussanne may add to it as well.  The wine was also more alive with a longer lasting flavour.

On reflection, this wine from younger vines than the others did not seem weaker, lighter or simpler.  Quite remarkably, it seemed stronger in structure and more complex, although definitely a lighter style.

There were other wines in the line up, but I felt that these three were the best of the bunch.  Interestingly, they were all under 14% alcohol.  The wines that I haven't reviewed here were all over 15%.