1 October, 2019
WILL BERLINER AND THE CULT WINES OF CLOUDBURST
AJWM is excited to announce the first showing of Cloudburst
in the Sydney trade since joining the AJWM portfolio.
Margaret River has spawned its fair share of free thinkers over the course
of its 50-year wine history, but few match the brazen and out-of-the-box approach employed by Will Berliner of Cloudburst. Renowned for his quirky, almost whimsical approach to viticulture, minuscule production and openly high pricing (a factor those acquainted with this undeniably 'cult' producer will no doubt be familiar with), Will operates almost completely outside of the Australian wine zeitgeist.
The New York native, who arrived in Margaret River in the mid-00s, claims his mission is simple: "I just wanted to make great wine". But the Cloudburst project is, in many ways, continually proving the point that to make the absolute best possible wine you need to have all the best interests at heart, from farming methods right through to scale of production. Compromise at any stage is out of the question.
"At first, the acclamation for Cloudburst took me by surprise, but now that's changed a bit," explains Will. "It's not that I'm being modest, but just that the more I involve myself in this particular way of focus, the more I realise how scattered other peoples' approaches are."
Less than a hectare in size, the organically-farmed Cloudburst vineyard is planted to chardonnay, malbec and cabernet sauvignon, three varieties Will believes are not only best suited to both the soil and the region, but also what he himself likes to drinks.
Funnily enough, when he and his wife first purchased the property, which neighbours the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in Wilyabrup, there was no intention of planting vines. "I knew hardly anything about wine; I initially wanted to plant trees to block the view and noise of traffic," he reminisces. "But it turned out the soil we had was great for planting vines." There is no irrigation; no tilling between the vines. Everything is done by hand, including, on average, 500 hours of hand weeding per year. There is absolutely zero synthetic input, with the exception of a small amount of sulphur at bottling. Animals are encouraged to feed and socialise between the rows. It's simply a case of letting nature do its thing – an idea central to the Cloudburst philosophy.
"It became obvious to me why things are turning out the way they're turning out and I think it's really a question of the scale," says Will. "One of the advantages I have with Cloudburst is that it's small enough that I can manage it on my own."
Each wine is made in more or less the same way, using wild yeasts and as little intervention as possible – make no mistake though, these are not 'natural' wines ("I don't subscribe to the idea of natural wines," says Will). In any case, it's a refreshing approach that results in incredibly pure, elegant wines that speak intensely of place, whose quality has been globally recognised in a very short space of time.
All Cloudburst wines are extremely limited. If you'd like to sample or secure your allocation, please get in touch.
97 Points – James Halliday
96 Points – James Halliday
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
98 Points – James Halliday
Small amounts of museum vintages are available on request.
2017 POLPERRO SINGLE VINEYARD RELEASES
From site to bottle, the single vineyard Polperro wines represent some of the most well-thought-out, unique expressions of the Mornington Peninsula. With a pragmatic yet almost artistic approach to his craft, vigneron Sam Coverdale places a focus on everything from clonal selection to cooperage in order to obtain the best possible expression of the Polperro vineyards.
Sam oversees all the farming, utilising a mix of organic and biological farming practices, with some biodynamic principles thrown in. "From a viticulture perspective, I want everything we do have a direct benefit," he says. "It's not just hearsay or for marketing purposes – we're not going to start up a tractor needlessly or put out something I don't believe has any real benefit to the soil. The winemaking is minimal, and all about trying to express the site and vintage."
The 2017 vintage was what Sam describes as an "amazing year" – very cool with a wet, cold spring; consequently, flowering was poor which resulted in highly concentrated fruit, helped on by a beautifully cool and long summer and autumn, with acids and sugars developing in perfect balance.
The resulting 2017 range of Single Vineyard chardonnays and pinots, as well as the 2018 Pinot Gris, are some of the most significant wines Polperro has released to date, and with only around twelve dozen of each available in NSW, they won't be around long either.
2018 Pinot Gris
The Real Review – 96 Points
This is a superb gris at the rich and complex end of the spectrum. Medium to full yellow, showing some development, it has a layered, ‘worked’ bouquet of ripe fruit, honey, spices, buttered toast and roasted nuts. It’s full-bodied, deep and dense with a lasting aftertaste.
2017 Mill Hill Chardonnay
At 270 metres above sea level, the Mill Hill vineyard is currently the Peninsula's highest, and one of its most exposed. Planted in 1994 to pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris, the vineyard sits on volcanic red ferrosol, above a granite bedrock which Sam believes adds a "sense of minerality" to the wines.
Winemaking: 12 months in barrel (40% new oak); full MLF, full solids. "It's got everything you want in a chardonnay," says Sam. "Beautiful padding and flavour profile with great acid structure."
2017 Talland Hill Chardonnay
"This is from the warmest of our three single vineyard sites, which sits at 170 metres above sea level, predominantly on a northern slope," explains Sam. Where the Mill Hill chardonnay is instantly more expressive on the nose, the Talland Hill is more "chestnutty, pheromonal and reductive; that classic P58 flavour that is all core fruit right in the middle of the palate."
The Real Review – 94 Points
Golden yellow colour - rich. Vanilla custard, nougat, spicy oak and lemon essence. Never judge a book. Supple and fruited palate. Ethereal in its length and mineral glide. Love its trajectory.
2017 Mill Hill Pinot Noir
100% MV6 clone, this wine is very expressive of the site and conveys a similar feel to the Mill Hill chardonnay. "It has a lovely, ferrous-y minerality to it," says Sam. "Regardless of the variety, the site really comes through with this wine." The Real Review – 96 Points
Pale red colour and transparent. The bouquet shows great concentration - ripe cherries, strawberry topping and oak-spice. Red plums on the palate lead an ethereal expression of the variety. It's plush and balanced. Tannins are refined. Excellent.
2017 Landaviddy Lane Pinot Noir
The Landaviddy Lane vineyard has a south-westerly aspect; it doesn't receive the full arc of sun, resulting in fruit with dried, herbal edge, reflecting the cool site. "I always find that, while in the Mill Hill pinot, the tannins are very linear and sit inside the acid line, the Landaviddy tannins sit just outside its great core acidity," says Sam. "The perfume always has these kinds of middle eastern spices, very savoury and herbal."
2017 Talland Hill Pinot Noir
The Real Review – 95 Points
Medium red colour with crimson edges. A brooding, savoury and spicy bouquet - rhubarb and toasty oak. Instantly shows width when sipped. Subtle and self-assured. Soft red berry fruits with length driven by tannins.
2018 SALO CHARDONNAY RELEASE
Salo is the vinous lovechild of Giant Steps’ Steve Flamsteed and Arfion’s Dave Mackintosh, two of the Yarra Valley’s most respected and innovative winemakers. Though their respective day jobs focus on producing vastly different styles, Salo is a reflection is of the pair’s joint ability to craft complex yet approachable wines from extraordinary sites in the Yarra, with an evident focus on minimal intervention.
The 2018 Salo Chardonnay is the sixth Salo release from the Full Moon Vineyard in the upper Yarra Valley. The vines, now 18 years old, sit in deep red volcanic soil, resulting in fruit showcasing great acid structure and exceptional balance of flavour.
The 2018 chardonnay saw relatively simple winemaking: whole bunch pressed then gravity-fed with full juice solids to 500 litre puncheons; wild yeast fermentation and partial malo. It’s a beautifully balanced expression of cool-climate Yarra chardonnay.
With just under 250 cases produced, these wines sell out every year and our allocation is tiny. If you’ve not yet sampled the incredible Salo wines, please get in touch.
The Somerset vineyard on Oakey Creek Road in Pokolbin is undeniably one of Australia’s great shiraz sites. Planted between 1956 and the mid-70s, the vineyard entertains a magical combination of diverse row orientation and rich volcanic soil over a beautiful, chalky limestone subsoil; couple that with low yields, decent vine age and the expert management of local viticultural legend Glen Howard, it’s no surprise that Somerset remains one of the region’s most sought-after sites.
Young Hunter Valley winemaker Angus Vinden is consistently charmed by the shiraz he sources from his small horseshoe-shaped lease at Somerset. Though the Vinden family has for years relied on the estate for great quality fruit, it wasn’t until 2016 that Angus, upon tasting a single barrel of shiraz blended from his three Somerset blocks, decided to bottle and release a wine that fully expressed the ultra-special nature of this vineyard.
What started as a “cool little experiment” has been taken to the next level for the 2018 release, with three different bottlings – one representing each unique block of vines.
“There aren’t many vineyards like that in Australia, let alone the Hunter,” says Angus on the Somerset shiraz plantings. “You know – those vineyards with ‘true’ limestone subsoils; for me that helps produce beautiful natural acidity with a lovely, more delicate minerality.”
But rather than showcasing just the site’s terroir – as he did with the 2016 and 2017 Single Barrels – Angus wanted to provide drinkers with a real glimpse of the variations between the blocks in 2018.
“I’ve made all three wines in more or less the same way, and it’s quite remarkable how different they are,” he explains. “The east block is quite light, floral and pretty; the north shows this lovely sort of balance with more density and plush fruit on the palate, and the west block has deeper, more brooding characters with a rich tannin profile.”
Each wine was basket pressed, whole-bunch fermented in open concrete vats and spent about ten days on skins. They were hand-plunged twice a day, aged for four months (during malo) in old neutral oak then further aged for ten months in second use 500 litre barrels. “Racked once, no fining, no filtration, all gravity-fed into bottle.” The result is 1,923 compelling bottles (641 each) of beautiful, medium-bodied single block Hunter Valley shiraz.
“The Somerset site is all old Busby clones and the phenolics develop a lot earlier than other sites,” explains Angus. “All the fruit is picked sub-13 Baumé; I’m looking to produce those softer, more expressive medium-bodied styles of shiraz which I think is what the Hunter does best.”
2018 LIGNÉE SHIRAZ PINOT NOIR
Angus Vinden’s other new project is Lignée, a collaboration between himself and young Mudgee-based winemaker Will Gilbert (of Gilbert Family Wines), aimed at crafting classic blends utilising Hunter Valley and Orange fruit and thoughtful, hands-on winemaking.
The first release is the 2018 Lignée Shiraz Pinot Noir, comprised of 50% Gilbert pinot sourced from a fourth-fill pinot noir barrel with around 20% whole bunch, and 50% Vinden shiraz from a six-year-old barrel filled with Somerset shiraz from the northern site.
It’s unfined and unfiltered and was hand-bottled and sealed (with wax, naturally) by the boys into just 400 magnums. The result is a unique, multi-regional blend, approachable in nature but still quite structured.
AJWM + FRIENDS WINTER TRADE DAY 2017
TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 12-4PM,
GOLDEN AGE CINEMA & BAR
80 COMMONWEALTH ST, SURRY HILLS
We've gathered some brilliant friends from near and far to ensure you'll discover something delicious at our Winter Trade Day on Tuesday August 15 at Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Surry Hills.
On the wine front, there will be Tassie's Moorilla, South Australian gems Michael Hall and Izway Wines, as well as some Italian-flavour from Barolo and Brunello importer Nebbia Wines. The cheeky Betoota Bitter and Yulli's Brews boys will also be there to pour some beers and spin some yarns.
AJWM producers that will be showing their wines on the day include Damo from Hart & Hunter, Mr Mike Boudry from MOON Wines and Neil Prentice from Moondarra and Holly's Garden. What's more, we're very excited to be introducing some fresh brands including Simão & Co., dalla Mia Finestra as well as two new Primavera Vineyard estate labels - Yarra Peaks and Evviva. Please join us for what should be a fantastic event. We are all looking forward to seeing you and your team there.
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0451 434 701.
VINTAGE 2017 - BAROSSA
A quick conversation with a busy, exhausted but very excited Dave Lehmann of David Franz wines about vintage 2017 in the Barossa.
JK: “G’day Dave, can you run me through this year’s vintage? Are you all done?”
DL: “Just about, yea. Waiting on a little bit of cabernet coming in pretty soon, apples for Scrumpy and some monte for a mate.”
JK: “Very good. So how was the bulk of vintage 2017?”
DL: “Bloody terrific top-to-bottom in the Barossa.”
JK: “Nice, so no dramas then?”
DL: “We just had such a nice, wet winter which was great for the vines. But then quite a wet spring was a bit problematic. The flood put some disease pressure on, but it wasn’t too bad at all. The vines were just set up so beautifully, they were so healthy.”
JK: “But the rain managed to all clear off for a nice dry harvest?”
DL: “Yea, pretty much. We had a little bit of rain, but that just freshened up the grapes nicely – it allowed for flavour ripeness to catch up with the sugar levels.”
JK: “Looks like it was all a bit later than the last couple of years?”
DL: “It was. Healthy and late. Not unexpectedly late though – I’ve always worked off Easter. A late Easter means a late harvest. Vines don’t take notice of the date, they just know the moon.”
JK: “And yields, were they healthy?”
DL: “Yea. A bit like 2006, it was monster vintage. We’ve upped our tonnage [intake at the winery] naturally from larger crops off each block we were sourcing from, and then extraction rates have been 20% higher as well. Luckily we were nice and organised with bottling previous years wines and had plenty of empty tanks and barrels at the winery.”
JK: “So the high yields haven’t affected quality?”
DL: “You look at the wines and they’re awesome. It’s proving this mantra of happy vines makes happy wines. When they’re naturally going well on their own, everything just comes together nicely. I mean look at the Loan Vineyard, an amazing dry grown vineyard, managed organically and biodynamically, they’re basically bush vines. There was no crop in 2015 or 2016. But this year we got 2000 litres. It’s now ticking through malo, and pretty exciting.”
JK: “So Semillons looking good then. Anything else really taking your eye at this stage?”
DL: “It’s an amazing vintage across the board really, one of the most fragrant and lifted. Bordeaux varieties are off the hook. As was shiraz – it’s just singing this year. But, as usual for me, those Bordeaux varieties just speak to me above everything else. Aromatic range is incredible.”
JK: “And in the winery, anything different, anything new to report on?”
DL: “Broadly, my philosophy has evolved a lot in the last 7-8 years. I’m going for a more refined, elegant, aromatic style; a lighter style. I’ve been drinking a lot of gamay and pinots at home; wines with a lighter touch. Aromatic, food friendly. Trying to do grenache with a Burgundian sensibility; the 2015 is about to reach your warehouse I think, and called grenache noir to hint at that. In saying that, I’m still staying true to the core of Kid’s wines [Georgie's Walk, Alexander's Reward and Benjamin's Promise] with that intensity, but even with those I’m evolving; raining back the oak, making sure the fruit is front and centre. No two vintages are ever the same, and you change the way you make it depending on the fruit each year but always with that overriding quest for the balance. And 2017 is really helping with that.”
JK: Sounds exciting, looking forward to coming down and tasting some barrels and seeing the wines a bit further down the track.
DL: Yea, it is. Hopefully we’ll have our cellar door ready by then, construction is set to finish in a fortnight – it's coming together nicely. Need to organise a time to get to Sydney soon, too, with the new batch of 2015 releases. Have you wrapped your lips around them yet? They look unreal. Anyway, better go – I’ve gotta call a bloke to check on where that cabernet is at.
VINTAGE 2017 - MCLAREN VALE
They're done and dusted, down in the Vale. And what a vintage it was - our friends at Inkwell have just finished their largest ever. One press, one, destemmer, one tractor and one devoted couple - Irena and Dudley Brown - were worked to the bone for seven weeks, generously aided by a swathe of big-hearted helping hands.
After a cool and wet winter, with record rainfalls, the clouds parted and sun shone brightly over McLaren Vale from veraison onwards. “Lots of water followed by lots of sunshine,” sums up Dudley. “Which for low yielding sites, like ours, was amazing. We didn’t have dense canopies so there was good airflow and no disease pressures at our site.”
Harvest kicked off a few weeks later than previous years, beginning in the last week of February for Inkwell, with viognier coming off the vines as soon as the desired ginger spice character emerged. This was followed by their grenache, mataro, shiraz, primitivo and cabernet sauvignon. “Six weeks of picking across six varieties,” explains Dudley. “And everything looks really good. It was ideal weather-wise, but a bit of a deceiving year due to a low alcohol yet high malic acid - it took courage to pick early. This means 2017 is going to produce a very fresh, acid driven style that we’re very excited about. We like plenty of fresh natural acid as we don’t add any,” he says.
The final pick came a week before easter. Late harvest zinfandel, destined for Black & Blue Late Harvest Fortified, was picked at 17 baume, let go naturally through ferment before it was stopped at 6 baume, fortified with 96 per cent pure spirit and drained into 100-litre barrels to transform into liquid pleasure.
New to the winery in 2017 is fruit from Ricca Terra Farms in the Riverland. Slancamenca bela, fiano and vermentino have all been fermented on skins. Their fate lies somewhere in the DubStyle Tangerine range, alongside the estate-grown viognier. Whether they are bottled as varietal wines or blends yet to be decided.
At the moment just about everything has completed primary fermentaion and ticking through malo. "Sometimes they shoot through, others you have to wait until spring,” says Dudley.
And then we’ll have to wait a little longer as the wines evolve in barrel, mature in bottle and begin to tell the proper tale of vintage 2017 in McLaren Vale.
For more, it's worth a read over the thoughts of the ever insightful and entertaining Philip White; Redefining Extreme: Vintage 2017
VINTAGE 2017 - ORANGE
Heading south to Orange, it was not fire but water that was the main concern for the region. But again, fortune favoured the farmer. “There were some heavy forecasts right in the middle of harvest – but luckily they got it wrong,” says Simon Gilbert of Gilbert Family wines. “After we picked sparkling base, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc came off – I think the savvy b should give The Hills a run for it’s money this year. Then chardonnay was harvested with fine flavours and good acid balance. Riesling came in after that with the TA, pH and Baumé in perfect balance – and the juice was pristine, vibrant and clean. So we're really happy with that,” he says. To the reds, “Shiraz is looking really tidy,” says Gilbert. “It was picked with baume levels in the high 12s, other components a bit higher and we’re seeing great colour and depth at this early stage... 2017 pinot noir is also exciting,” he says. “In the vineyard there were no dead pockets, or disease pressures, as the Borrodell vineyard is really high (970-1030 metres above sea level) and exposed to wind.”
So there you go, it seems a similar tale to the Hunter Valley… Pick from your region’s best vineyards, have some luck in avoiding some erratic weather – be it rain, fire or extreme heat (is harvesting relatively early the trick?), to give yourself the best shot of getting clean fruit into the winery.
Speaking of the winery, we’ve spent a fair bit of time at the Gilbert's over vintage and they certainly have a few new tricks up their sleeves. A large new concrete egg doubles the collection, another 900 litre French oak rolly barrel has come into play for whole-bunch pinot and a set of new Stockinger Austrian oak barrels is set to do wonders for the chardonnay. Some more experimental winemaking is occuring, too. Increased use of skin contact and some pet-nats will join the stable of Gilbert by Simon Gilbert's increasingly-refined and complex table whites in 2017. Keep an eye out – they’re coming sooner than you imagine!
VINTAGE 2017 - MUDGEE
We spoke to Simon Gilbert for some insight. “Mudgee has produced some pretty tidy fruit across the board, as flavour ripeness came along before sugar ripeness. Natural acidity, pH, and flavour profiles are all looking in good shape,” he says. Drama in Mudgee was caused by the Merriwa-Sir Ivan February bushfires that ripped through the towns and farms surrounding of Uarbry and Casillas, around 100kms to the north. “Yea, there was a bit of a scare with fires and smoke,” recalls Simon. “But the wind was blowing in the opposite direction to us, otherwise it could have been devastating. In the end, we didn’t smell any smoke at all and there’s no indication it tainted the grapes.” At this early stage, Gilbert’s pick of the Mudgee fruit is the sangiovese they’ve specifically grown for rosé. “It’s looking nice and crisp, awesome natural acidity and bright and fresh in flavour. This means there’s room for some old oak influence without risk of becoming flabby, or too hot. It’s more elegant than last year, yet the fruit profile is still there.” The resulting wines – as a result of a range of different treatments coming into play (think various picking dates, fermentation techniques, maturation vessels, and styles; pet-nat anyone!?) – are sure to create exciting drinking later in 2017.
VINTAGE 2017 - HUNTER VALLEY
Friday 13th January 2017, an auspicious date, was the first pick for a few Hunter Valley wineries. Any superstition that may have caused did nothing to quash predictions of "better than 2014...", or "vintage of the century...". In fact, social media has been hot with optimism as the likes of Andrew Thomas and Chris Tyrrell feed the "best since '65..." beast.
For a more tempered summary we chatted to Damien Stevens of Hart & Hunter. In short, he reckons it's set to produce some brilliant wines - particularly chardonnay and semillon - though, due to the record breaking heatwave (around 10-12 Feb), it could turn out to be a "tale of two vintages" when it comes to shiraz.
At this early stage the chardonnay is causing excitement. Relatively small fruit, due to stressful conditions at flowering and fruit set, has resulted in additional concentration of flavours, with the vines able to put more energy into each bunch through the growing season. This should result in more intensely flavoured, quality wine. Elegance is used as a common descriptor when discussing it's potential, but after tasting through multiple and varied ferments I think the words 'complex' and 'layered' won't be out of place when analysing the best of the finished wines.
The trade-off for quality? Less of it, much less. Yields are substantially down across the board, but particularly so with chardonnay and fiano. "A block that produced 22 tonne last year came in at 6 tonnes this year. A block that was expecting 10 tonnes, produced a mighty 2," explains Damien.
While the chardonnay is thrilling for it's quality, it seems the most interesting variety to keep an eye on will be shiraz. "Shiraz certainly does have potential to be better than ’14," he says. "Though it looks there will be two styles here depending on whether fruit came in before or after the heat. Before the heat wave, the shiraz had nice natural shrivel and concentration - berry size was down noticeably compared to the last two years." At this stage it will be a bit of wait and see to see how the heat has affected the fruit. But from what he can see in the winery, Damien is very happy indeed. "Tough Hunter years are bulked up to get up to 13-14% alcohol, this time nothing under 13 is coming in - yet that lovely Hunter spiciness is not lost. It's the same reason the 2014s looked good, to have that spiciness behind additional fruit weight."
While shiraz has some great early prospects, the potential of 2017 semillon is superb according to Damien. "Semillon handles and even enjoys the wet that this vintage brought," he begins. "In 2014 there was a lot of sugar development without flavour development; a lot of 12%-plus alcohols, which I don’t think really works in the Hunter. This year a lot of fruit came in at 9.5-10 baume - that will sit us in around that 10-11% alcohol. Some parcels got higher, up towards 11-11.5 baume, but flavour ripeness was running in line with that sugar development. In 2017 we're seeing plenty of traditional Hunter citrus, rather than the more tropical flavours which we got out of 2014. I think semillon is definitely going to be better."
There you have it. They're nearly done up there, with the last of the shiraz coming in as I type this, and some small parcels of varieties like fiano, sangiovese and pinot noir to filter through after that. And then? Well, watch and wait with expectation of some pretty handy Hunter wines from 2017.
POLPERRO PRAISE 12 January 2017
Gourmet Traveller WINE's tasting panel, inlcuding Huon Hooke, Mike Bennie, Andrew Caillard MW and more have taken a look at Sam Coverdale's pinot gris and noir, and like what they see.
2015 Polperro Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula "A serious gris... the complexity and depth are inarguable. Intense rich aromas and flavours of nutty barrel-ferment coupled with tropical fruit notes. Concentrated and powerful." 95 Points.
2015 Polperro Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula "Medium red-purple colour, the bouquet offers fresh herbs together with raspberry. It has a charming feathery lightness. Medium-bodied, softly textured but quite intense in its bright, deep fruit-driven flavours. It's lovely now with ageing potential." 94 Points.
2015 Even Keel Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula "This has a bright yellow hue and a rich, nutty, spicy aroma which suggests some barrel fermentation, while the palate has more depth and presence than most Aussie gris. Lovely texture and drinkability." 93 Points.
IN CIDER INFORMATION 12 November 2016
It's not often you get a wine merchant kicking off an email with a cider spiel. But that's how excited we are about the latest acquisition to the portoflio, Red Sails.
Red Sails are producers of serious, and seriously delicious, Tasmanian ciders. Working with Claudio Alcorso, the founder of Moorilla, Dr Clive Crossley began the search for the best possible site to plant heritage cider apple and pear trees on the Apple Isle about 40 years ago. In the end, they stumbled across a huge, 100 year old Napolean Pear tree, and, well, you can't argue with that sort of natural selection, can you.
Now a minimum of 30 years old, the trees (40 different heritage cider apple varieties, both French and English) are unsprayed and no preservatives are used during production. Wild ferments are employed and maturation is done in French oak barrels previously used by Moorilla. The ciders gain natural sparkle in bottle, with no chemical carbonation at all. It's a laborious, time consuming, craft process - which results in exceptional products; Perry, Original Cider, Wild Cider and an off-dry Cider Gold.
If you're interested in trying Red Sails, please get in touch soon as they are extremely limited.
We've mentioned Dub Style in this newsletter previously, but the attention husband-and-wife team Dudley Brown and Dr Irina Santiago-Brown are attracting can't be ignored... So I'm using this an excuse to ramble on a bit more about what they're doing down in McLaren Vale.
The Inkwell wines they create are right up there with McLaren Vale's most elegant, refined and poised bottlings.
They're serious wines, all but made in the vineyard under the watchful and well-informed eye of Irina. As part of her Masters in Viticulture and Enology, Irina completed a thesis titled A Comparison of Costs: Biodynamic vs Conventional Viticulture in Australia. Irina then went on to gain a PhD in Sustainability Adoption and Assesments in Viticulture. To keep it simple, we like to think of her as Australia's Master of, and Doctor in, sustainable viticulture.
While it's all a team effort (it really has to be, it's just the two of them, one phase of power, one tractor, one destemmer, one press and a few small fermenters), once the grapes come off the vines responsibility is largely handed to Dudley. He handles this role with great respect to the work done in the vineyard - carefully nurturing the grapes into bottle with minimal intervention and no additions at all expect for tiny amounts of sulphur at bottling. They are the only winery in McLaren Vale to produce estate-only wines in this way.
The results are thoughtful, delicious and represent great value.
Wanting to play around outside of philosophical borders put in place for Inkwell some 10-15 years ago, Dudley and Irina created Dub Style. This newer label gives them a chance to explore other vineyards in the region (would you pass up the chance to play with a few tonnes of dry-grown grenache from 88 year old bush vines or some chenin blanc from Blewitt Springs?) and experiment with winemaking (skin contact, oxidation, 100% whole bunch, zero sulphur).
The epitome of this experimentation is Dub Style No. 1 Bubbly - the world's first skin contact, slightly sweet, sparkling viognier in a can. You don't want to like it, but you will - just ask Samantha Payne, who suggests it may be something of a magic love potion in her Broadsheet article.
Other wines from the range include the two skin contact 'Tangerines', 2016 DubStyle Tangerine No. 1 Viognier and 2016 DubStyle Tangerin No. 1 Shiraz, the single vineyard, 100% whole bunch 2015 DubStyle No. 2 Grenache, the plush 2015 No. 1 Mataro and fresh and vibrant 2016 No. 1 Preservative Free Shiraz.
There are limited cans available in cases of 24, if you'd just like a six pack you can pick one up from myself or AJ at the office.
Here at AJWM we avoid the dull and mundane, preferring to seek out seriously good, seriously interesting booze and, more often then not, the wonderful (sometimes whacky) characters who create these drinks.
Top of the list at the moment are the latest Moondarra pinots from Neil Prentice, the out-of-the-box DubStyle creations of Dudley and Irina Brown and the ability of Dave Lehmann to cram 108 Varieties into a bottle and create a damn tasty rosé...
Right off the bat, from Gary Walsh, "One thing you could never accuse these 2015 Moondarra Pinots of being, is boring." He goes on to give the wine a very solid score, waxing lyrical ("uncompromising", "headstrong", "all manner of complexity") in his WineFront review.
Ditto, Campbell Mattinson, who commented, "Pretty wine but gamey and complex too. Roses in bloom and roses, fallen. Taut finish. A flash of oak. Same score. But loved drinking it. Has a future."
More widely known for their Inkwell range, Dudley Brown & Irina Santiago-Brown have taken an adventurous leap with some new DubStyle wines. And they're grabbing plenty of attention.
In The Australian, Max Allen praises the 2016 DubStyle Tangerine, a skin-contact viognier as well as the exciting DubStyle No.1 Bubbly, saying, "A lot of winemakers overuse the “unique” claim but in this case it’s true: this surely must be the world’s first off-dry, extended skin-contact sparkling viognier in a can."
They're kicking goals with their original Inkwell range, too. On the 2014 Inkwell Perfect Day Shiraz, Gary Walsh noted, "I really like what I smell and taste here: a whole lot more McLaren Vale should take a leaf out of this book." Read the full review here.
In a bit of a coup, the 2016 Gilbert by Simon Gilbert Saignee Rosé was recently awarded the Champion Wine of Show at the Mudgee Wine Show. The wine is building a pretty good pedigree, a previous vintage took out Halliday's best rosé in Australia in 2014.
Please sing out if you'd like to try any of these wines, or anything from our portfolio.
Steve Flamsteed - best known here as one half of the dynamic Salo duo with Dave Mackintosh - has been named Gourmet Traveller WINE's Winemaker of the Year for 2016.
He joins the pantheon of great Aussie winemakers to win the award, including the Henschkes, Jeff Grosset, Virginia Willcock, Rick Kinzbrunner, Steve Pannell (video - you might recognise a familiar face catching grapes).
To quote the GT WINE magazine, "In essence, this year's accolade rewards a broad impact on the Australian wine scene and not just a suite of wines, past and present. It’s a public outing of a modest, intelligent, quiet revolutionary who has captured our hearts and minds with his exceptional winemaking, but who is also the embodiment of the ultimate wine all-rounder. We’re lucky to have him and his wines."
There's tiny amounts of his 2014 Salo Chardonnay (94 points, Wine Front review) remaining, with the 2015 having just landed and already moving quickly. The 2013 Salo Syrah from Hawkes Bay is a ripper, too (96 points, Wine Front review). If you'd like to check them out email James (email@example.com) or AJ (firstname.lastname@example.org) to organise an appointment.
The latest addition to the AJWM family are the wines of Yarra Valley young gun Marty Singh. They're called Precipice and they're seriously smart. The focus of Precipice is on single site, small batch chardonnay, pinot and syrah that reflect the geographical diversity of the Yarra Valley - sourcing early ripening varieties from the cooler, elevated upper Yarra (2015 Chardonnay from Willow Lake Vineyard and 20151 Pinot Noir from Lone Star Vineayrd) and later ripening varieties from the Valley floor (2014 Syrah from Hyde Park Vineyard). Having worked alongside great winemakers such as David Bicknell at Oakridge and Adrian Rodda for over a decade, Marty has gained deep insight into the art of making great wine and the confidence to do just that.
If you'd like to have a chat and check them out, get in touch with James (email@example.com) or AJ (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book in a time soon. These wines are in limited supply.
It was an absolute pleasure having Mike Boudry of MOON wines in town a couple of weeks ago... Thanks to everyone who made the time to say g'day, taste the new wines and have a chat to the two-time Academy Award winner and winemaker extraordinaire.
Mike was stoked with the response and has sent us up a little more to play with this year.
But when I write little, I mean it. There's only about 20 dozen each of the 2015 MOON Chardonnay and 2010 MOON Shiraz, so if you'd like a look at these complex, creative wines from the biodynamic Goulburn Terrace Vineyard, get in touch quick smart.
The other new arrival to the portfolio is from the McLaren Vale winery of Dudley & Irina Brown. 2016 DubStyle No.1 Viognier Tangerine (AKA Inkwell Laranja) is in town and ready to party! Fermented on skins for two weeks, this amazingly fresh little beauty adds textural interest to the lifted ginger-spice and structure typical of serious viognier. It will be in hot demand if home is anything to judge by - after two sips last night, there was a dozen demanded by the girlfriend.
26 AUGUST 2016
Eddie McDougall, the man some of you may know for his eponymous King Valley wines, has traversed the globe in pursuit of cracking wines over the years - working in Piedmont (Vietti), Margaret River, Yarra Valley (Giant Steps) and the Languedoc (Mas de Mas Gassac) among others.
It's the Languedoc experience that inspired him to join forces with the Guibert family of Moulin de Gassac and create 2014 Tête-à-Tête Vin Rouge. It's an extremely limited blend of syrah, grenache, carignan and cabernet sauvignon that blends the best of the Old and New Worlds.
29 APRIL 2016
"Wines with sass, slickness and style," reads the headline to Philip White's Indaily piece on Dudley and Irina Brown's Inkwell wines. No scores were given, but high praise was bestowed on their "very cool" McLaren Vale estate. In line for typically evocative reviews from Whitey were the 2015 Blonde on Blonde Viognier ("perfectly, elegantly slimy"), 2015 Reckoner Cabernet Shiraz ("sass, silk ‘n’ velvet, slickness and sin") and Inkwell I&I Shiraz ("a really glamorous and vibrant strap of a wine"). Read the full story and reviews here.
26 APRIL 2016
And another one in the 90s. Hot off the back of some big scores for the Inkwell wines, Mike Bennie has turned his palate to Polperro and seems equally impressed. He awarded 92 point to 2015 Polperro Chardonnay.
"Sam Coverdale is shifting his vineyards to organic farming, fine tuning the winemaking, creating some good culture around his wines... Generous bouquet segues to creamy-textured, full flavoured, light buttery palate. It gives good flavour, is set on crunchy acidity, so you kind of get best both of both worlds..."
Read the full review here.
29 MARCH 2016
"Bring on the next vintage!" That's not a phrase you'll hear from winemakers and cellar rats around the country as they come off the back of a hectic 2016. Rather, it's the catch-cry of Gilbert by Simon Gilbert Rosé fans, including Colin Fassnidge who said "I do like a nice chilled rosé on the balcony – that's not very manly, is it? Simon Gilbert Rosé from Orange in NSW is a good one," in an interview with SMH last week.
29 MARCH 2016
We're big fans of the Inkwell's Blonde on Blonde Viognier, and it's sentiment which Mike Bennie seemingly agrees with. He awarded the 2015 iteration 94 points on The Wine Front, writing: "Complexity/interest to price ratio is out of control... Entices in the lover of complex, interesting white wines... It’s a wine that defies and yet defines the scope of the variety. It’s very, very good." Read the full review here.
6 JANUARY 2016
The Inkwell Reckoner Cabernet Shiraz has also been highly-rated recently, awarded 93 points by Campbell Mattinson in The Wine Companion. "First vintage of cabernet using 'Italian Clone #1', a new cabernet clone to Australia... It's an intriguing wine... harmonious and therefore immediately attractive, but it has the sinew to age..." Check out the the full review here.
15 DECEMBER 2015
Kind words from Mike Bennie on the 2013 Salo Syrah, and winemakers Steve and Dave: “Very good wines, if you’ve kept up with their trajectory. Decent humans too... This wine is from a pretty bloody good vintage in Hawkes Bay too.” Read the full write up here.