Oxenbury 'the Twins' vineyard Nebbiolo

Current release
2012 Oxenbury 'The Twins' vineyard Nebbiolo        [purchase via this link]
The cooler than average season has given this wine an intense, vibrant aroma of roses, with the customary tar character creeping in now as the wine is maturing.   With very low crop levels, our aim is to make a wine with richness and texture on the palate, and this year's Nebbiolo shows exactly that: it is an elegant style, but has complexity, richness, vibrancy and, of course, real tannins like all Nebbiolo.

At the moment, the wine repays decanting or even just opening the bottle an hour and a half in advance: then the complexity of flavour emerges.  Roast duck breast with beetroot, roast pork or chicken all make good accompaniments; but we have been drinking it with eggplant and carrot tajine as well.

There is nothing magical here.  I focus on a few goals in the vineyard and make a few specific decisions in the winery.   Firstly, our site selection and the fact that we are unirrigated means that everything in the vineyard has to go into the vine, and the crop level needs to be kept low (2.5 tonnes per Ha).  We have naturally low fertility in the soil, so weed competition for water and nutrient must be kept low and the soil needs to be looked after in the long term.

Picking time is the next decision: getting the tannins when they are strong but not harsh.  And pressing the fermented wine is the next: the parameter is the same; after a long time on skins  (easily 5 weeks but as many as eight) the tannins become more complex and less aggressive.

The rest is basic winemaking craft: healthy yeast ferments and a slow evolution.  The result we aim for is a balance between elegance, richness and complexity.

The Twins vineyard
The Twins is our home vineyard named after a pair of twin cypresses that grow in the corner by the gate.

As with almost all vineyards in Beechworth, it's terroir is unique.  The hills of Beechworth fold and turn and gullies and creeks cut through them giving each vineyard its own aspect, exposure and orientation.  On top of that, with an elevation range across the region from 300m altitude to 800-plus, and a couple of soil types, each site is a little unique.  (For a good over view of the Beechworth wine region, especially its folded hills and elevation, try this video link on Vimeo.)

The Twins vineyard is on a high ridge line of slate and shale facing North-East:
This photo from Google shows the sharper slate rideglines running from the top right of the picture straight down through Oxenbury Vineyard and on to Karen and Russell's vineyards at the bottom of the picture.  By contrast, the more rounded hills in the centre and the left of the picture are the rolling granite country.

The map below shows the underlying geology.  I've outlined our base rock (Oap1 in this map) which is Hornfels (baked hard in the heat of granite intrusion) containing the minerals cordierite, magnesium, iron, mica and quartz. Our site is the main  area where this soil type has a north-easterly aspect; most of the rest of it faces south.  The soils on top are free-draining red soils.

The photo to the right gives you an idea of just how high up on the ridge this vineyard is.  We have full exposure to the rising sun coming up over the Alps in the growing season, and a great view as well.


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