Tag Archives: Barossa Valley

Wine Reviews August

14 Aug

head red gsm, brash higgins cabernet sauvignon, anselmo mendes muros antigos vinho verde

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Photo update and tales

21 Mar

Ooo if you look carefully I was trying to capture the Disney on Ice-style magic of the floor with the smoke wafting over. It’s actually just me at the dry ice machine and I thought it looked cool
The winemakers had pressed off a whole bunch of Frontignac grapes and were going to dump everything else even though the grapes were still reasonably juicy (because you start getting more phenolics which you don’t want in the juice). Harry saw what they were doing and suggested we make for ourselves (not for sale) a bin of Frontignac white port. This is the bin the next day. The grapes went through a chiller so they were about 7C at this stage and my legs were freezing!

I asked Harry if we should plunge it down, but considering this bin is full of grape skins and not juice, it would be like trying to plunge concrete. He suggested the best thing would be to get in there…something I was all for and so offered my legs each morning over the weekend to plunge in the acid and yeast I’d inoculated it with. Don’t be grossed out, you won’t be drinking it, and it needs this contact to make sure I’m getting the yeast through everything before it really starts fermenting and then we need to fortify it with spirit!
The Eden Valley at dawn

Too busy to type, so here’s photos

7 Mar

Glenelg Beach

The barrel hall (aka Air Force One) where I spent my first week climbing these racks and filling them up again. In the far corner is all the Hill of Grace barrels

Adelaide city graffiti

Relaxed Sunday breakfast at the Company Kitchen

My machine in a time-warp…or just on the main street of Tanunda

Doing a ripper white juice racking off the solids on some Riesling

Sunset on the way to Greenock pub…warning to self not to drive and take photos at the same time in the future

Fringe Festival ‘Zeitgeist’ show: Naked woman surrounded by naked bodies

The drive from work

The drive to work

Sunrise near Air Force One

The trees in Coultard Reserve Park

Sunset in the park

Me shifting barrels on the forklift

Young Jack (aka Slick Slackety) measuring the red ferments

We drink a drink a drink a drink

6 Feb
The other cellarhand at Henschke, my old mate Stuart and I got ourselves organised and ventured on up to Angaston for a fulfilling breakfast on this Saturday morning at the Blonde Cafe on the main street. After lining our stomachs we set off to our first destination on what was to be a day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley. Stuart was driving, so like my brother David would say, ‘You can get smashed‘, but considering I’m not the type to get ‘smashed’ per say, I knew that most of my day would be spitting these palatable libations.
Yalumba called upon us from just outside of Angaston and here we sampled their extensive range, finally finding myself reaching for the wallet and purchasing two bottles of Riesling: 09 Pewsey Vale Riesling & 09 Heggies Vineyard Riesling. Moving along we stopped at the Taste of Eden wine bar in the main street and sampled a range of amazing Rieslings on offer from tiny producers in the Eden Valley, here I bought a Radford 09 Riesling that will be put down for a while I reckon. Can you tell I’ve got a thing for Rieslings yet?
Following on we walked up the road to the small producer Small Fry where we got talking for a while to the wife of the winemaker and ex-viticultural manager of Penfolds vineyards. She was fascinating and they had some really good wines. I ended up buying their food-friendly 09 Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro Carignan Cinsault blend from the Vine Vale sub-region of the Barossa Valley. Should look good in two years.
We stopped at Kaesler’s where my ex-boss Matt Harrop suggested we go as they have good wines and they crush Shadowfax’s Sauvignon Blanc the last two years. When we arrived there was a large tour bus of old people gradually leaving and buying up big on sweet white port and telling me ‘this one’s lovely, make sure you buy some too’….ahh….no thanks 🙂 The list on the cellar door was customised for the tour bus so at first I thought they had a pretty dodgy offering, until they realised that the two young un’s here weren’t with the old foggies and gave us the proper list and we went through and tried some ripper reds ‘Old Vine Shiraz’ and ‘Old Bastard’ were favourites of mine, and their McLaren Vale Nashwauk range was really interesting too.
By this stage our stomach’s were getting a little peckish so we winded our way first to Torbreck’s and were served by one surfy and totally ‘tubular surf man‘ free-lovin’ dude behind the cellar door and another who offered to take us down to Adelaide Hills sometime when we’re free. They also whipped out from behind the back a bottle opened up from a dinner the night before of their new 2005 Laird wine to be released sometime this year that will retail for $750 or something. It was an incredible wine…I will never buy it…but I’ve tried it and I can testify that it’s a bloody awesome full-bodied red. In an Arnold Schwartzenegger kind of accent I would say it had ‘the power’.

Welcome to the Barossa

2 Feb
I arrived here not even a week after landing back in the country after completing a vintage in Bolgheri, Italy. What am I here for? Henschke winery up in Keyneton. I’ve got a vintage placement here while there’s work to be done so will make the most of the opportunity and work as hard as I can. Considering the ‘work’ I did in Italy was so ridiculously easy in terms of workload and hours, I am really looking forward to getting down to some dirty work, earning some money, learning heaps from these guys and just having a ball!

It is only my second day working and my hands are already stained a dark colour from working with barrels…Lordy Lord, help me!
The work crew in the winery are a lovely bunch. There is the head boss and figure head Stephen and Prue Henschke who are so small, so cute, and incredibly nice people. Well-spoken and really interesting. Then I’d go onto my winemaking boss Paul Hampton who is really cool, funny, full of information, youngish and just great, so am really looking forward to working with him when he’s around. The assistant winemaker is Josh, a young, tall guy who’s really cruisy but really passionate. His family have a winery which he will take over one day so he’s in a great place to practice! There’s also the jovial Jack, the baby of the Henschke team, at the young 21 years old. He’s studying the same Wine Science degree that I did and seems older than his actual years say but is easy to work with and gives good direction. There are a whole bunch more of people of course but the main character would be Harry. My housemate warned me about Harry saying his language could be foul (if every second word turns out to be ‘bugger’ or ‘shit’ or ‘bloody hell’ then that’s what she was referring to), and he will tell you like it is. Turns out, I really like Harry so far! He explains things clearly and in a quintessentially male manner he knows everything about alloys, pumps, and stuff…most of the time I get the gist of what he is on about and other times I don’t…hey, I can’t be a full man here, can I!?
The winery is old, creaky, and quaint to say the least! So different from all the ubiquitous modern wineries around so it’s a great change and funny at times to see an ancient pump whirling around that’s been there since the 60’s or something. The floor where we empty/fill barrels is a purply colour at this stage because of the wine-tainted spit we cover it with. At least here they are pedantic about quality control and we taste every barrel that we come across. Thank god! There is Triple J radio playing in the background, not so loud so that you can hear the shouts for when the tank is almost full from across the other side of the winery. Sweat drips down your forehead as you careen the forklift in to pick up four barrels on the side – not a normal situation but Harry says you can fit more barrels into a warehouse this way. The sweat is because you’re dealing with quite the expensive product here, especially when one barrel can contain 225 litres of wine, you times that by how many bottles you’d get at 750mL, then by the retail price of each bottle…so if you drop it….shit.
At least my second day finished in true winemaking fashion: we all went upstairs to the lab where there were samples of the 2009 Henschke Hill of Grace from about 20 barrels. They would eventually make up the final blend and each was interesting with slightly different flavours, tannins, texture, length, depending on the cooper, the barrel (American or French), the forest the oak is from, the vineyards of course, whether the vines were 150 years old or 20 years old, the type of soil, the aspect of the vineyard…so many variables so it was really great to do with all of us there.
I also gave them my box of seven wines from Shadowfax winery that Matt Harrop had given me. Initially my housemate Monica who works in production told me that they don’t drink alcohol during work hours so no wine will be drunk she thought apart from beers on a Friday afternoon. But after chatting with winemaker Paul he told me once it’s vintage and we’re working long hours, we’ll have dinner here us six at the winery and they’ll usually go down to the ‘tunnel’ (the old wine storage area like the caves of Portugal) and select a mystery wine for everyone so we’ll get to drink some interesting stuff there he said. Yessssssssss!