Thursday, 4 March 2010

My annual Oz trip

As has been the norm for me over the last 7 years, I have just made my usual trip over to the sunnier side of the world. The main reason was to check over and prepare the latest edition of Wilson Gunn 2008 for bottling whilst also getting a chance to see the NEW RedHeads.

This part of the world (McLaren Vale) means a lot to me as it where I started my winemaking journey over 11 years ago. As a fresh faced 17 year old I got a job with Tatachilla winery as the lowest of the low-level cellar hands. It was bloody hard work but I learnt a lot from the then head winemaker Michael Fragos (now winemaker at Chapel Hill), and assistant winemaker and long time friend Adam Hooper, one of the original RedHeads members and maker of La Curio. Along the way I have made many more friends out there, many of which have come over to help me with my Bordeaux harvest.

Anyway since the early days things have moved on and everyone now seems to have their own shed! RedHeads is not now about one place, but about a collection of guys producing fantastic stuff in their own place, but still meeting up around an impromptu BBQ to talk shop and drink way too much beer into the early hours of the morning. It now brings more diversity into all the wines as you can taste the same parcel of fruit made in two different sheds, producing very different wines. It really is fascinating to see how the concept has evolved over the years and a lot of great photos were taken to show this, which I’m sure you’ll see in a mailing soon.

While I was there I had to finalise the blend for the Wilson Gunn 2008 Bellum Shiraz Cabernet. This was not easy as in 2008 we had a massive heatwave in the middle of vintage and everything that was picked after really suffered. So from my 28 barrels, I only managed to select 10 that were good enough, all picked pre-heatwave. But on the upside we have a cracking wine that shows classic deep purple concentration, smooth tannins and buckets of eucalyptus and spice flavours - it’s gunna be good!

Overall everyone seemed very excited about the 2010 harvest. After two hard years it looks to be a classic McLaren Vale vintage, concentrated and ripe!

Oh and I forgot to say, whilst I was away my wife Kaye signed on the dotted line for our piece of English terroir near Marlow, and then ordered 20,000 vines that will be ready for planting in May. Will tell more next time!

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