Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we bring you news and events from Artisans of Barossa, Vino Lokal and the Barossa region.
Tim Smith, the one-man band that is Tim Smith Wines Barossa, is a busy bloke during vintage. But with the harvesting and the crushing, and the fermenting and the pressing almost done for vintage 2018, we finally got a chance to spend some quality time with the man who answers the phone… "Tim Smith Wines, Tim Smith speaking”.
2018 marks the 10th and final time that Tim Smith will make his wine at the Home of the Brave winery… a tiny Lichtenstein carved out of the continent sized former Kaiser Stuhl, come Southcorp then ‘Pennies’ winery at Nuriootpa. Sometime this year, Tim will move (subject to the usual approvals from Council of course) to his own shed on his own land at Vine Vale. A momentous moment for any winemaker to secure their own digs… and for Tim just 17 years on from that day in 2001 when, whilst necking Condrieu on the doorstep of the famous Hermitage Hill Chapel, the decision was made to launch Tim Smith Wines. Further proof that there is no such thing as an overnight success story in the world of small batch winemaking. A moment of inspiration (or madness) to make a start, 5 years of soul searching and questioning whether you can make a go of it, followed by 10 years paddling as fast as you can to keep your head above water, before you reward yourself with your own shed. It’s a hard slog. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it. And you wouldn’t succeed if folk didn’t love what you created from the fruit grown in the vineyards of Barossa. Tim Smith is a man who has ticked all those boxes, and we wish him all the best for the big move in 2018.
With vintage almost done and dusted, Tim can now turn his attentions to other passions which typically take a back seat at this time of the year. And whilst playing the drums and riding classic Triumph motorcycles are high on the list, a quick look around the winery suggests the Port Adelaide Football club probably ranks alongside Tim Smith Wines in equal first place in the order of important things, well above all else in life.
Despite the mighty ‘pear’ pulling on the jerseys against Geelong this Saturday night at the Adelaide Oval, Tim will be back in the Artisans Of Barossa house this weekend and if you happen to be in the Barossa, we encourage you to drop in for a quiet chat. Along with the freshest stories of vintage, which are often the truest, Tim is also showcasing plenty of new releases.
Tim Smith - in the Artisans house this Saturday and Sunday from 12-4pm, just before he heads out the door to take his seat in the house of the 'pear'... no doubt with a glass of Viognier in hand.
the team at Artisans
We believe the keystones to delicious and exceptional Barossa wine are caring for where it comes from and how it is made, and encouraging and promoting individual expression. And our promise is to share the very best of these wines with you – wines from the established names, but also wines from a growing pool of exciting, emerging talent that energises and refreshes the collective output of the Barossa winemaking community each vintage.
Andy Cummins and Emma Welling impressed us with the ‘hearts on sleeves’ approach to wine when they first appeared in the Artisans house back in January this year. And the story of their journey to what is just a third vintage in 2018 rekindled great memories for our more established Artisans. Memories of the early days as a new winemaker, trying to find your feet, setting your course and then growing in confidence each year as you sense more and more that you’re on the right track.
We had a quick chat to Emma this week… Andy’s days are still fully consumed with balancing his day job at Henschke, ongoing commitments to his winemaking studies and working on the third vintage instalment of Rasa Wines.
“I’m amazed with his energy levels, and that he’s able to find the time to get everything done. If he manages to get a day off from vintage at Henschke, he’s instantly immersed in working on the Rasa Wines. It’s been a great vintage – brilliant quality and all at a nice, steady pace. There’s been plenty of long days and hard slog, but you don’t mind doing that when the quality is there to taste. We’ve taken Semillon from a new vineyard at Williamstown for The White, and also some Riesling from the Eden Valley. We like the idea of incorporating small portions of Riesling into our wines as a natural way of balancing acidity in our wines.”
The first of the 2018 wines won’t be released until late this year, and there are only tiny quantities of selected current releases still available. Emma (and maybe Andy) will be in the Artisans Of Barossa house this weekend from 12-4 each day, and this is your chance to come talk to the winemakers and grab a few of the last remaining bottles of Rasa Wines before they sell out.
We’re also featuring their wines at Harvest Kitchen… We're thinking a glass of the 2017 Bright Red with the field mushrooms, truffle oil and white bean puree would be a mighty fine tonic on a day like today!
We believe the keystones to delicious and exceptional Barossa wine are caring for where it comes from and how it is made, and encouraging and promoting individual expression. When you visit Artisans of Barossa, we want you to be able to make sense of Barossa in its entirety by bringing together every possible expression of Barossa wine along with great stories and the flavoursome food from Harvest Kitchen.
As the 2018 vintage draws to a close, we’ll once again welcome our winemakers into the Artisans house. Every weekend beginning on the 14 & 15 of April through to the end of June, you’ll meet the people who make our wines, and talk to them about their approach to winemaking - learning more about where each of their wines come from, how they are made and what makes them so very special. Coming so soon after vintage, you’ll see plenty of purple hands and sense first-hand the excitement shared by all about the exceptional quality of this year’s harvest.
Along with the established names like John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden, Schwarz Wine Company, Spinifex, Hobbs of Barossa and Massena there’ll also be a few new names. John Lienert from Jack West Wines out on the Barossa’s Western Ridge will join us for the first time, Andy Cummins and Emma Welling from Rasa Wines, Tim Smith from Tim Smith Wines and Sarah & Phil Lehmann from Max & Me will return to Artisans for a second time this year.
The winemakers will be in the house from 12-4pm each Saturday and Sunday. Why not make a lunch booking with Harvest Kitchen, and either before or after lunch, spend some time with our winemakers getting to know a little more about them and their particular take on the art of small batch Barossa winemaking.
The next Winemaker in the House program begins on April 14 & 15 with Rasa Wines.
Keep in touch and RSVP to our events through our facebook page.
I grew up in Melbourne in an era when there were 12 VFL footy teams, and every game was played on a Saturday afternoon with kick off at 2.30. Harry Beitzel’s broadcasts on 3AW, then 3AK and later the ABC were legendary, especially his ‘around the grounds’ crosses to each of the games for regular score updates. Amazingly he could do all that, still call the game he was at and at the same time promote Pelaco shirts - ‘It is indeed a lovely shirt, Sir!’ His sidekick Tommy Lahiff was an accidental comedy genius. With a nod to the nostalgia of the good old days when Saturday afternoons in the middle of a Melbourne winter were spent listening to the footy on a National Panasonic transistor radio powered by 2 ‘D’ sized batteries, here is our first ‘around the wineries’ report on the 2018 Grenache Project.
This vintage, all six wines are being made from the ‘Kylie’s Garden’ vineyard at Stockwell. A 40 year old bush vine vineyard that yielded a crop of small, intensely flavoured berries. Each winemaker was allocated a single row, and each picked one tonne of fruit…which will make around two barrels of delicious Barossa Grenache.
John and Tim Duval are all business, and we received a detailed and precise ‘game update’ from Tim just 5 minutes after we ask for it - “The ‘Duval’ component of the AoB Grenache project is happily fermenting away in a small open top fermenter. The fruit was hand-picked on Friday 9 March, and we tipped a single bin of whole bunches into the bottom of the fermenter. We destemmed and crushed the balance of the fruit on top of the whole bunches and the ferment started kicking off on Saturday. We are now four days in and the lovely red fruits of Grenache are really singing. There is some savouriness from the whole bunch showing through and this will intensify as the fruit sweetness reduces during ferment. We are currently sitting at about 7 baume, and so far we are very happy.”
Jaysen Collins at Massena is classically light on with the details - “100% destemmed fruit being tipped into a fermenter, with the lid on and shoved somewhere in the back of the cellar.” (In 2017, Jaysen completely forgot about the fruit he’d sealed in a tank until 45 days later, and then went on to make a sensational wine….glorious mistakes can produce glorious results, and inspire a new direction in winemaking!)
Allison Hobbs called in from Hobbs of Barossa ranges. Last year they rack dried their Grenache before fermentation. Sounds like they’re taking a different approach this year – “We picked our fruit a few days ago and destemmed it before fermentation. Not much movement in the ferment yet, but we should start to see some action over the weekend. Looking very nice.”
The first report we saw from Jason Schwartz was on his own Instagram page with a video of his 3 kids in a ‘Barossa jumping castle’ – shoes and socks off and 6 legs and feet leaping with unbridled joy across the top of a tank piled high with whole bunches of fruit. There’s nothing better for a Barossa kid than helping dad make some awesome Grenache. FYI - foot stomping is not just used to keep Barossa kids busy after school, but to release juice from the berries and give the wine a bit of extra crunch from the breaking the stalks.
I didn’t get much out of Pete Schell – vintage is never a good time to be asking winemakers for information. But he did say he’d pressed the fruit and everything looks tickety-boo….bright, fresh and juicy. He made mention a few weeks back that a similar approach to last year was the plan – extended carbonic maceration with berries on the bottom and whole bunch on the top. When things calm down, we’ll get a few more words from Pete.
As for Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham, I think they were both last sighted buried under a mountain of red grapes. We might have to wait for the traditional post-game interview to get their story!
First time around, The Grenache Project became one of the most loved and talked about initiatives in Australian winemaking in 2017. The energy and excitement is up another notch this year, and we can’t wait to get these wines into bottle and ready to release on December 1 this year. If you’re keen, make sure you get your name on the waiting list by heading to our website here to register your interest.
Howard - Chief Operating Officer AoB
Register your interest in the 2018 Grenache Project
Following a twelve-month search, Artisans of Barossa announced today plans to construct a new purpose-built home at a 56-acre vineyard property on the corner of Vine Vale and Menge Roads near Tanunda. The Barossa Council Assessment Panel approved the development application at their meeting last night, and construction will commence in April. Completion is expected by the end of this year and the doors to the new home will open in January 2019. In the interim, Artisans of Barossa will continue to operate from its Magnolia Road base at Vine Vale.
“Our aim is to make the new Artisans the keystone destination for any Barossa wine and food adventure – a place that enables people to make sense of Barossa in its entirety by bringing together every possible expression of Barossa wine along with stories, food and generous hospitality.” said Howard Duncan, Chief Operating Officer for Artisans.
“The best wine and food tourism destinations in the world share a number of key attributes, chief among them being a highly authentic expression of the produce of the region within which they operate. Throughout the process of designing our new home, we’ve challenged ourselves to create innovative and distinctive experiences around Barossa wine and food that encourage our guests to be more adventuresome and to discover more about this region’s brilliant produce - it’s culinary heritage, where it all comes from, how it’s made and the stories of the people who’ve made it. The new Artisans builds on our established position as the home of some of Barossa’s best small winemakers and, inspired by success stories from around the world, aims to set a new benchmark. Barossa is positioning itself as Australia’s global wine and food region, and Adelaide is known around the world as Australia’s ‘Wine Capital’. The new Artisans will play a leading role in supporting these twin endeavours that aim to draw increasing numbers of interstate and international culinary tourists to our State and region.”
With a new home comes the opportunity to set a new course, and from 2019 Artisans will deliver an integrated wine and food program through a single Artisans team of great Barossa wine and food people. Harvest Kitchen has chosen to remain at the current Magnolia Road location in a new partnership with Calabria Family Wines who purchased the site in 2016.
“Since early 2015, Artisans of Barossa has worked in tandem with Harvest Kitchen to become one of the most popular cellar door and restaurant destinations in Barossa. Peter, Tracy and Alex and their team have played a pivotal role, and we wish them continuing success working with Calabria Family Wines who have exciting plans for what we’ll always fondly remember as our first home.”
The new Artisans has been designed by local architects JBG, and Ahrens Construction and Engineering has been engaged as the builder.
“Through the construction stage and initial operations, the new Artisans home is expected to create more than 30 new full time equivalent jobs in addition to the team we currently employ. We’re all about offering our guests the best experience of Barossa they’ll find anywhere on the planet, and we’ll be bringing together a team that embraces our love of all things Barossa to deliver that. Recruitment should commence later this year.”
Artisans of Barossa is a group of like-minded producers with a common goal to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking. Our collaboration represents a shared way of thinking about winemaking and wine enjoying. The Artisans are Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Schwarz Wine Company, Massena, John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden and Spinifex.
We look forward to welcoming you to the new Artisans of Barossa.
This weekend at Artisans, the Massena crew are our ‘Winemakers in the House' presenting their bold, adventuresome and exciting wines from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Come up to Artisans and have a chat with winemaker Jaysen ‘JC’ Collins and vigneron Glen ‘Glen’ Monaghan, both great guys, and both fully subscribed to the Artisans ideals of respect for provenance and guardianship of the art of small batch winemaking.
Well let’s call that ‘Plan A’…because the vagaries of weather and the demands of vintage have a funny way of turning plans to dust in an instant at this time of the year... so it may be that our winemaker in the house program will be more like a ‘winemaker in the house….winemaker not in the house…winemaker in the vineyard….winemaker back in the house….winemaker dashing off to the winery…etc etc’ affair.
Vintage in Barossa has kicked off big time this week with everything ripening up nicely - the fruit commencing its annual pilgrimage from vineyard to winery to transform from grape juice to delicious wine for our ever grateful satisfaction and refreshment. And because our Artisans are the genuine deal, proper winemaking folk whose hands (and most definitely on the occasion feet) produce the wine that finds its way into your glass - you can interpret ‘picked by Glen Monaghan and made by Jaysen Collins’ literally - as this is exactly what’s happening this weekend at Massena.
I put a quick call into ‘JC’ earlier today to get a heads up on his plans for the weekend… and he assures me the Massena team are good for their word and will be ‘in the house’ no matter what vintage throws at them. Here’s a quick run-down of what’s going on in Massena world right now, straight from the source:
- Early picked Durif from Krondorf Road at Kabminye is bubbling along nicely in the tank.
- A small parcel of cracking Marsanne from Stonewell landed at the winery this morning.
- Viognier from Greenock is probably coming into the winery tomorrow.
- They should pick their first Shiraz (from Basedow Road, east of Tanunda) over the weekend.
- Glen is working his way, snips in hand, through the Fruit Salad block on the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley - 20 different grape varieties all ‘tossed’ together to make one of the region’s most intriguing white blends.
- The basket press has ‘shit itself’ (a ‘JC’ technical term for temporarily out of service) and they expect to be jogging plenty of barefoot laps around the tanks over the weekend to press finished red ferments.
- Most importantly, someone remembered to fill the winery beer fridge with an eclectic collection of barley based beverages packaged in convenient 375ml can sized portions.
So this weekend is your chance to meet and talk to a real live winemaker or vigneron whilst they’re literally knee deep in the vintage action. I’ve asked JC to bring in a bit of fermenting juice, and Glen some freshly picked fruit, so if you or friends or guests head into Artisans this weekend they can get a taste and a feel for the fruits of the Barossa harvest. And if that’s not enough, there’s a first taste of the Massena ‘Caviste’ Blend - a blend of Shiraz, Primitivo, Petite Syrah (Durif) and Tannat.
Cheers, we hope to welcome you this weekend at Artisans.
We welcome Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham from Sons of Eden as our ‘Winemakers in the House’ this weekend from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Head up to Artisans either day to have a chat and taste through a range of wines that have made ‘the sons’ one of the most exciting names in town.
‘Winemakers’ in the house is actually a bit of a misnomer for the ‘Sons’. Corey Ryan comfortably fits the bill, but whilst Simon Cowham might not be ripping off the shorts, socks and shoes to squash Barossa grapes each vintage, the grapegrower/ viticulturist ‘son’ has plenty to do with ensuring what you discover in your glass of Sons of Eden wine is an outstanding expression of Barossa wine. The combination of winemaker and grapegrower working in unison defines Sons of Eden and makes them one of Australia’s great winemaker/grapegrower double acts - the quality of their wines living testament to the adage that one plus one can equal three.
Speaking to a grapegrower in February is like trying to speak to someone running late for a plane, and Simon politely asked me to keep the Q & A session brief. So I fired three questions at him over a sausage roll at Nosh last week (a very good sausage roll, worth a go)
Why become a grapegrower, when winemakers get all the fame & glory?
“I hear what you’re saying – I don’t think anyone at Artisans has ever asked to meet the grapegrower! But I’ve always been a bit of a nature boy and I just love getting around in the great outdoors, kicking the dirt and marvelling at what mother nature is capable of providing us. And whilst I may not be the bloke making the wine, I’m the one charged with delivering the fruit the winemaker wants, so I’m always conscious that what I do out in the vineyards directly impacts on the winery and what ends up in the glass. I need to have a foot in both camps – respecting the landscape and what it’s able to produce, whilst also considering what Corey needs. To that end, the onus is on me to have a very good grasp of what’s happening in the vineyards we source fruit from, and understanding how I can respond to ensure we get the fruit quality and flavour we want. I’ve also got a decent grasp of winemaking and have spent plenty of time exploring the dark arts of sales and marketing – so when I’m standing in a vineyard, I get a sense of the connective line between the dirt and the glass.”
Every year is different. How do you as a grape grower respond to changes in growing conditions to ensure you keep delivering top quality fruit to the winery?
“That’s true…every year is very different and presents a whole new challenge. You just have to adopt the mindset that you need to start each year with a fresh perspective, but be comforted that the knowledge of a vineyard landscape you’ve built up over many years will see you right. I started back in 1990, so I’m now well into my third decade. Over that time I’ve learned plenty about how different varieties, sub regions and individual vineyards respond to the changing conditions of each year. They teach you a fair bit at University, but it’s what you learn through experience that counts in this game. What I’ve seen and learned, and no doubt the mistakes I’ve made help me to respond to whatever the current season throws at me. But put me in the Hunter, or Margaret River and I’d be like a duck out of water because I’d have no feel for the landscape and environment.”
Now for the BIG question….how’s this year looking?
“Everyone’s always asking me how the vintage is shaping up, and it’s bloody tough to throw a blanket over the entire place and give it a single rating. Every variety performs differently each vintage, sub regions and individual vineyards respond in various ways (some good, some not so good) to the vagaries of the seasons and years. Barossa is an amazing place to grow grapes and make wine because there is no much diversify inherent in the landscape, but that also makes it almost impossible to get everything perfect every year. I’m a fan of rating vintages in terms of the number of highlights, whereby the great vintages have the highest number of individual highlights, and the average ones the lowest. And in a place like Barossa, no matter what the season brings, you’ll always find a good amount of highlights. For 2018, I’m excited about the quality I’m seeing in our vineyards, and how the fruit will land in the winery over the next few months. The cooler sections of the Barossa Valley and warmer sections of the Eden Valley look especially good. Fingers crossed”
And with that, I’m left with a plate of crumbs (did I tell you it was a good sausage roll at Nosh?) and Simon is off out the door. Do yourself a favour and head into Artisans this weekend…and make sure you ask to speak to the grapegrower!
I’m of the belief that John Duval has never once acted on impulse – certainly not when it comes to making wine. Quiet consideration, patience and a commitment to doing things ‘just right’ are engrained in his DNA. His humility, gentlemanly demeanour and ‘think then act’ approach hugely admirable.
Perhaps ‘hasten slowly’ is John’s motto when it comes to the headlong rush of a Barossa vintage? At a time when plans can dissolve in an instant as the vagaries of weather toss up cruel and unkind curve balls, I doubt John’s pulse rate moves a blip. Cool as a cucumber. Seen it all before. (With something like 45 vintages under his belt, I suspect ‘JD’ has.) Therefore, with patience and particular consideration for timing the essence of the Duval way, it should come as no surprise that on the cusp of the 15th anniversary of their foundation vintage, they add just a sixth wine to the range. (Plexus was first (’03), followed by Entity (’04) and Eligo (’05) in quick succession before a short hiatus leading to the release of Plexus White (’10) and Annexus Grenache(’13).) This Saturday marks the release at Artisans of the first vintage of Annexus Mataro from the stellar 2016 vintage, and this is what John had to say about the new wine.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Mataro, it’s a critical element of Plexus and a grape variety that deserves to be celebrated by Barossa winemakers. We’ve sourced fruit from this dry grown 100 year old vineyard at Light Pass for all the years we’ve produced Plexus - and with 2016 being such a great vintage the time was right to release a small quantity of Mataro under the Annexus label. We’re very happy with the first release wine - it shows plenty of classic savoury spiced fruit on the nose and powerful, yet restrained black fruit flavours on the palate, supported by ample, long flowing waves of tannin. It sits very comfortable amongst our small family of wines. Will we make an Annexus Mataro every year? I think the answer to that is entirely dependent on the qualities of future vintages.” (That Duval ‘quiet consideration’ at play again!)
Also this weekend, the new vintage of Eligo will be released at Artisans of Barossa - the 2015 vintage. John’s aim with Eligo is to produce a structured but elegant expression of Barossa Shiraz - a wine with restrained power, rich texture and palate length in the classic John Duval Wines mould. From a master winemaker with access to exceptional and rare Barossa vineyards, the release of the 2015 Eligo will be one of the highlights of 2018 at Artisans.
John and Tim Duval will be our Winemakers in the House this weekend at Artisans, from 12-4pm both Saturday and Sunday presenting these two brilliant new release wines along with the rest of their family of wines that has been carefully framed over the past 15 years. Not to be missed!
This week at Artisans we resume our Winemaker in the House program with Greg and Allison Hobbs from ‘Hobbs of the Barossa Ranges’. Greg and Allison will be in the House on Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm and you’re invited to head to Artisans to taste their brilliant Eden Valley wines and meet two people who are utterly consumed with their vineyards and their wines. Not to be missed!
I have a confession...I can't get enough of hearing their Barossa wine story, because it's just so bloody good. Whilst many of us have dreamed of a vine change, Alli and Greg have made theirs reality...and with very good form to boot. And if their story was to become a book, the synopsis of the story so far would probably read something like this;
Non wine drinking copper meets wine drinking nurse. They fall in love (aaaw), the non wine drinking copper becomes a wine drinking copper and together with his wine drinking nurse girlfriend they begin their wine journey with weekends spent exploring South Australia's wine regions tasting, buying and accumulating an impressive cellar. (Good start!)
Moving on...now married with 3 kids, life in the big smoke begins to lose its allure for our wine drinking dynamic duo. A desire to find a new life in the country combined with the urge to take a really big step in their wine journey leads them to buy a home in the Eden Valley which is...by pure chance (wink-wink) surrounded by a century old, but 'seen better days', vineyard.
Time to meet the neighbour...who quite fortuitously happens to be Chris Ringland who knows a thing or two about old Barossa vineyards and making wine. Exchanges of information about grape growing and wine making, swaps of vineyard equipment and the occasional passing over the figurative back fence of the odd decent scone (produced by Alli, with the assistance of the Angaston baker) are the rights of passage that build neighbourhoods in these parts. Fi and Col Shepherd of Flaxman Wines will move into the 'hood soon after.
Business Plan 'A' is formulated - fix vineyard, grow grapes, sell grapes. This is replaced at some stage later by Business Plan 'B' - realise grapes are too bloody good to sell, so grow grapes, make wine! Business Plan 'C' is a pragmatic response to Business Plan B - 'make wine, drink some wine, and sell wine after allowance for 'ullages' caused by now adult kids coming up to see mum and dad on the weekends. There's also an exciting foray into Artisans of Barossa with 6 good winemaking mates.
There are two things that are plainly obvious when you talk to Greg and Alli about their vineyard and their wine. First and foremost, they love what they do...and believe me, their's is not the romanticised version of winery ownership. These people work exceptionally hard, but they do so because everything they do on behalf of their wine brings them enormous joy. You can see that in their smiles and in their eyes. They also love being an Artisan and the camaraderie they feel through the connection to other winemakers who share a common approach to wine...they do it because they love it, and for no other purpose. The other thing you sense from the Hobbs' is the pride they take in their wine. An outsider observing how they work in their vineyard, how they make their wine, how they package their wine would jump quickly to the conclusion that "there has to be an easier way". But that's not how Greg and Alli see their world.
They never look for an easier way to do anything, they only look for a better way. And in the quest to make these wines that they can be justifiably proud of, that 'better way' inevitably implies 'the hard way'!
The connection the Hobbs’ have to their vineyard is like few others. They look over it every morning when they wake up, they pass through it every morning taking the dog for a walk, they work in their vineyard every day…and each evening they enjoy a glass of wine from the fruit they’ve grown from the vines that surround them. Beautiful place, beautiful people…magnificent, richly flavoured wines that reflect the hard work and love that goes into making them.
The 'Hobbsies' have just released the first vintage of their Tin Lids Shiraz Cabernet - an Eden Valley expression of the classic Australian red blend, bringing together Shiraz from their vineyard at Flaxman Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from Phil and Sarah Lehmann’s Boongarie Estate on the Keyneton to Eden Valley Road. (We’re a close knit bunch – Phil and Sarah were ‘in the House’ just a few weeks back.) It's big on flavour and oozing class. We’ll have that on tasting alongside the first vintage of the Tin Lids Aria Secca Shiraz. ‘Aria Secca’ is an Italian term, meaning ‘air dried', and refers to the 7-10 days the harvested grapes lie on drying racks at the winery to further concentrate the flavours of Shiraz from a 100+ year old vineyard. And I’m sure corks will be eased from bottles of the monumental 1905 and Gregor Shiraz….exceptional, rare Barossa wines of particular provenance – grown, harvested and made by Greg and Allison Hobbs
As good a reason as any to stick your head in the door this week at Artisans.
The winemakers get a rest from the house this weekend with the annual grape squashing festival around the corner (possibly next week). We'll let them put their feet up for what will be the last time in many weeks of very long days. But don't let the absence of winemakers in the house take the shine off a visit to Artisans this long weekend... because we're launching something very, very special!
January 26 is a day in the Australian calendar that represents many things to many people. For plenty of folk it’s the day to simply celebrate what it is to ‘be Australian’. And there’s good reason to celebrate as a nation, because the big brown land is indeed a wondrous place. But it’s also the day that marks the landing of the First Fleet in 1788, and the notion of celebrating on this day is one the First Australians (and increasingly many others) find painful and offensive. Hopefully this current escalation of conversations, public discussions and debate (much like that accompanying the same sex marriage plebiscite) will enable broader awareness of the cause for malcontent, greater consideration for what Australia Day should signify and ultimately collective agreement on a date that Australians can celebrate as one. Let’s see how it all unfolds.
Captain Phillip - Australia's first vigneron, vintage 1788. (Pic courtesy of spectator.co.uk)
This Australia Day weekend at Artisans, we’re celebrating the 230th anniversary of something else that happened on the 26th January. A moment in this land’s history that should be rejoiced by lovers of Australian wine across the globe. For this day represents the arrival of vine cuttings into Australia, courtesy of Captain Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet. On the way down under, and with instructions from ‘Mad’ King George, Arthur Phillip collected vine cuttings from Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town to establish vineyards at Sydney Cove. The first vines hit the dirt in what is now the Sydney Botanical Gardens, before finding a more agreeable home at Parramatta by 1791. (It wasn’t until 1817 that John MacArthur is gazetted as the person to import the first Shiraz cuttings to plant at his property ‘Camden’, often credited as the birthplace of Australian farming.) Cuttings from Camden were sent to Barossa in the late 1830’s… and we all know what happened next!
George Blaxland, amongst the first Europeans to find a way west through the Blue Mountains was also in on the wine game early, and James Busby lit a fire under the whole show when he landed 570 cuttings of almost every known grape variety in Sydney in 1833. (Busby kept sailing and landed in New Zealand, where he planted the first vineyard and drafted the Declaration of Independence to stop the French laying claim to the world’s greatest rugby team. He also drafted the Treaty of Waitangi, written in both English and Maori, recognising native title and acknowledged as the foundation document of New Zealand. Waitangi Day is on February 6 and is New Zealand’s national day, commemorating the signing of that treaty. Pity he didn’t stay in Sydney a bit longer!
Those First Fleet vines were the catalyst for what has become one of the most exciting (if not the most exciting) wine producing nation on earth. What is remarkable is we know the precise date that wine came to Australia… a knowledge of ‘inception’ shared only with South Africa. But perhaps what is truly prescient of Australia’s future thirst for wine was that ‘plant the vines’ was at the very top of the list of ‘jobs to do’ when Arthur Phillip set foot on the beach!
To celebrate this great moment in this nation’s wine history, we’ll be putting our best foot forward with a tasting of our absolute finest Shiraz… the grape variety that John MacArthur bought to Australia in 1817 that went on to define Australia as a great wine making nation on the world stage. We’ll have a rare presentation of Autumnus and Romulus from Sons of Eden, John Duval’s Eligo, Hobbs Gregor, Schwarz’ Schiller and Spinifex’s La Maline on tasting all through the long weekend for just $15. When you consider the rare provenance and extreme pedigree of these wines, and their collective retail value of nigh on $900 (and maybe the cost of a glass of house wine in a fancy bar), that’s small change.
Come on up to Artisans this Australia Day weekend and commemorate the birth of a winemaking nation! January 26 - Australian Wine Day - you heard it first at Artisans!
Thanks to John McArthur for bringing Shiraz to Australia... and also sheep, thus creating the nation's greatest food and wine match! (Thanks to the therealreview.com for the pic)