It is time to look at issues close to home. Happily, we’ve got a wealth of talented wine makers producing some of the most amazing wines you will see anywhere in the world. I’ve decided to highlight a few of the more topical (ie actually have wines to sell). This is not an exhaustive list as I don’t have enough time to go through all of them right now. You may notice most of the wines come from cold/cooler parts of the state too. This is where I feel the most excitement is. Producers are seeking out individual towns and vineyards to make wine from and explore the difference that become apparent with practice and time. This will flow through to the warm parts of Victoria but are still a few years off. This isn’t always the best way to great wines, but it adds another level of interest for wine fanciers (especially those hopelessly in love with European wines) like myself.
Bindi of Macedon One of Australia’s truly iconic producers. Those who love wine know and seek out Bindi’s pristine and pure Chardonnays and elegant and finely structured Pinots Noir. All wines are Estate grown at the beautiful Macedon vineyard. These wines fall into the ‘purchase on sight’ category. Originally purchased in the 1950s as part of the larger grazing farm ‘Bundaleer’, ‘Bindi’ is a 170 hectare farm of which 6 hectares are planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fifteen hectares are dedicated to managed plantation eucalypts for high grade furniture timber whilst the remainder of the land is maintained as remnant bush land and important indigenous grasslands.
William Downie Vic Pinot Bill Downie has been on a wine making odyssey that has seen him work at tiny producers and large wine factories most notably in Australia and Burgundy. Since 2003 Bill and partner Rachel Needoba (a formidable cheese maker!) have also been making Pinot Noir under his own name from the Yarra Valley and subsequently added Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland to the range complemented by a one off wine (or two). The first under the William Downie label was a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2003. A wine I had the privilege of tasting on release and I still have a bottle in my cellar. A tasting earlier this year (2013) with industry friends had it more impressive and interesting then some quality Burgundies drunk at the same dinner. Bill and Rachel are based at their farm in West Gippsland.
Thousand Candles Yarra This wine came about when William Downie was asked to make a wine that speaks of the best of what Australia can do. He has full control of the process from the vineyard to the final packaging. The wine is from one vineyard in the Yarra Valley and is a blend of Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The blend came about because Bill and the team felt that on their own they had three OK wines, but together they had a wine that offered “Truth in the Glass”. The wine spoke of where it came from. The wine making process was simply “Whole bunches in a vessel.” No destemming, no yeast additions, no crushing, no punched downs or pump overs. Even the Sauv Blanc was made with full stems and skins. In fact it spent almost a year on skins which would be considered almost heresy in most peoples winemaking manuals. Speaking to viticulturist Stuart Proud recently he said all the hard work is done in the vineyard. Then Bill waltzes in and claims the credit for almost literally doing nothing to the amazing grapes he receives.
Kellybrook Old Yarra Kellybrook was established in 1962 and has quietly gone about making lovely wines and cider from their property in Wonga Park. In June 2011 Rob Hall joined the team after spending almost 10 years at Mount Mary. He was keen to spread his wings and try some new and interesting things with wines and introduced the Estate range wines. Made exclusively from fruit from the vineyard in Wonga Park and they are something special for sure. I have no doubt in saying the Estate range of wines will be considered classics of the Yarra in a few years time. Tempted? Join us for a Dinner with Rob Hall We will focus on the Estate wines but will also include a few of the other Kellybrook range too. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the ground floor!
Warner Vineyard Beechworth Gold Grapes are from the famous Warner vineyard in Beechworth (think Giaconda). Grown from vines planted in decomposed granite soils which allow the vines to naturally manage their yield to ensure optimum fruit quality. Made by Gary Mills who also makes stunning wines from the vineyard under his Jamsheed label. A wonderful first release of these wines that promise so much more.
A.Rodda Beechworth and Yarra Adrian Rodda worked at Oakridge in the Yarra Valley for more than 10 years. At the start of 2010 he moved on to settle in Beechworth to start his own label: A.Rodda. With just four vintages completed the range has grown from one wine in 2010 to the four we see today. The 2012 vintage saw two single vineyard Chardonnays made, one from the oldest vineyard in Beechworth and the other from a similar aged vineyard in the Yarra. He also made a single vineyard Tempranillo from Beechworth and a Bordeaux blend which is driven by a 35 year old Cabernet vineyard. These four wines will be the core of what Adrian offers for the foreseeable future.
That is but snap shot of what Victoria has to offer the wine lovers who are lucky enough to be in the know. Don’t forget the Kellybrook Dinner as a great step to discovering the greatness of these wines.