tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:/posts The vintage nomad 2018-09-25T08:15:59Z vintage nomad tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1294598 2018-06-16T06:52:25Z 2018-06-16T07:28:57Z A TASTE OF EUROPE WITH A MODERN TWIST

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1281944 2018-05-10T02:02:14Z 2018-09-25T08:15:59Z A Young Man With A Dream

A Young Man with a Dream.

John Robinson 

February 23rd 1939-May 8th 2018


Between 1963 and 1966 a young man already well travelled began teaching in Lyon and Stuttgart.

This was a unique time in Europe when the regions had their own personality and there was a freedom and openess to western Europe.

While teaching in Lyon he would venture north to Burgundy and Beaujolais and south to the Rhone valley. These adventures would lead to a fascination with the vineyards and wines of France. So to in Stuttgart he would visit the vineyards and wineries of Baden-Wurttenberg and from then on he was hooked.

What fed this obsession with the grape was fourfold. The beauty of the regions he visited the fascinating people he would meet like Louis Garoux in Burgundy , the wonderful wine and food he would be introduced to and the fun of making the wine itself.

In 1966 he returned to Australia and met Heather his soon to be wife.

By 1968 they began looking for a suitable place to grow grapes and make wine around Toowoomba where he was raised and set up his law practice. That same year they came down to Stanthorpe and were introduced to Dick De Luca a gentle giant of a man of Italian heritage that poured for them a muscat wine made from his vineyard.

John and Heather shared the passion for wine and during this time John read extensively about wine and winemaking. From Max Lakes "The Flavour of Wine" from 1969, "Progressive Winemaking" by Peter Duncan and Bryan Acton from 1967, "Scientific Winemaking" by J.R.Mitchell from 1969 and "The Wines of Bordeaux " by E.Penning-Rowsell from 1969 .

One of the books "Australian Wine The complete Guide" by Dan Murphy (the man not the wine group that bears his name) published in 1966 may well have sparked the interest with particular passages underlined.


One poinigant passage is that wine " promoted peace and relaxation and stimulated conversation and prompted ideas that produced paintings and sculptures and theatre and literature". John being an avid painter himself and gaining an appreciation of the arts having returned from Europe.

From his tasting and research and with Heather they decided to buy a property in 1968 and planted vines in 1969.The first vines planted were Shiraz after the fashion of what he had seen in the Rhone valley where the grapevines were also planted on granite soils.

Having met Max Lake on a few ocassions he ventured to Lakes Folly to do a vintage in 1971. Here they would bunk down in a loft above the winery before helping with the vintage.

From the exposure at Lakes Folly, although 1971 was a very wet vintage, John saw the potential of Chardonnay first planted at Lakes Folly in 1969.

Coming back to Stanthorpe he brought with him cuttings of the Mudgee clone of Chardonnay (the original source of Chardonnay in Australia) from Pieter Van Gent now known as the Penfolds 58 clone. Planting Chardonnay along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir to compliment the Shiraz plantings. He made his first wine in 1974 called "The Family".

By 1975 his first commercial wine a red blend of Cabernet Shiraz and Pinot Noir won a Gold in the Brisbane Royal National Agricultural Show. In 1976 he made his first Chardonnay at that time amongst only a handful of wineries making Chardonnay in Australia it too winning a Gold Medal and White Wine of the Show at the local Stanthorpe show and a Silver in the 1978 Brisbane National Agricultural Show . The 1976 Pinot Noir also receiving a Silver in the Brisbane Royal National Agricultural Show. He also spent some time studying under Brian Croser and Tony Jordan at what has now become Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga.

From the early seventies to 1986 John was to bring his flair of winemaking to bear on successive vintages. The vintages of 1974,1979,1980,1981,1982 and 1986 all being standouts in terms of quality and staying power. I have tasted many of these wines some thirty years after they were made and can attest to the elegance, complexity and length. Some truly remarkable wines like the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon (one of the greatest red wines I have tasted) and the 1981 Shiraz Cabernet that was voted amongst the to ten top wines of the country at the time by a particular wine writer.

John bought a quiet confidence and his talents to share with all around him. A gentle man in the best sense. With many great ideas from the introduction of the first appellation system in Australia "Ballandean Nouveau", to the Sanctuary Cove "Wine Race" , Bay Cooler , the first 'methode champenoise' Sparkling wine in Queensland and the first satellite cellar door. He was a true innovator and pioneer. He will be missed and cherished by all who knew him.

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1153650 2017-05-13T03:10:26Z 2017-05-13T05:39:26Z Becoming a Heavyweight of Wine Tasting


How do you taste wine and learn about flavour?

Many scribes have covered the basic See Sniff Swirl Spit scenario for tasting wine. So let's take another approach. How do you get the most out of your wine tasting experience. How do you become an avid wine taster and can you train for the event.

Ding Ding


Round 1

Get the SSSS info and put it into practice. Buy two wines of the same variety and even the same region or producer. Buy the cheap and cheerful $10-15 bottle (below ten at your own risk) and a $20-30 bottle ( more if your feeling indulgent). Now try them side by side. In theory the cheaper bottle should be fresh light simple and easy to drink, generally better slightly chilled (even red). The more expensive bottle should have more flavour mouth feel and richness and may change and develop in the glass. One is for quaffing the other for taking your time to enjoy.

Quaffers are fit for purpose and are not really there to reflect on so just enjoy the wine at your Sunday lunch barbie or like minded occasion. Other wines however can be tasted with more patience. If you prefer the quaffer all power to you.

Round 2

Anyone can learn how to taste. It's about using all your senses and paying attention. If you have Attention Deficit Disorder then maybe not ( I am surprised you have read this far), but otherwise you can learn the skill.

How?

Take the time to notice the flavours in your everyday eating and drinking. The acidity in your lemon or grapefruit juice, the firm drying bitterness in your mouth when you drink a strong cup of tea, the sweetness and viscosity of a spoonful of honey around your tongue, the smokiness and saltiness of some well cured ham, the heat in your mouth when you try a strong whiskey/vodka/gin etc, the creaminess of that vanilla yoghurt. All these tastes are relevant to wine tasting.

Round 3

Different people have different strengths in tasting the five basic building blocks of taste.

Sweetness: Easy enough for most people but don't confuse this with fruitiness. This confusion is probably due to many aromatic lifted fruity whites having some level of sweetness but they are not exclusive to each other. Mainly from sugar levels but a sweet perception can come from the alcohol and glycerol.This is usually an immediate sensation that subdues over a short time.

Area: the front tip of the tongue.

Sourness: Is due to the acidity of the wine. Too high and the taste will be tart (bite into a lemon), too low and the taste may be soapy ( don't bite into the soap). Just right and the taste will be refreshing. Acids can also taste a little different , try lemons versus granny smith apples (citric(fresh) versus malic acid (green)). Usually acidity is an immediate sensation that stays longer than sweetness.

Area: The sides and just underneath the tongue.

Bitterness: Certain compounds found mainly in the skins and seeds of the grapes and absorbed into the wine depending on the level of time the skins and seeds have been in contact with the juice/wine. So generally speaking red wines will have higher levels of bitterness.

Try the tea trick, or lemon lime and bitters,tonic water or the skins of some fruits will have elements of these compounds. Strongly hopped beer like an IPA is another option.The sensation is usually slow to develop but persists longer after spitting out.

Area: usually at the back of the tongue.

Salty: self explanatory. Usually an immediate sensation that also stays longer than sweetness.

Area: Also the edges of the tongue

Umami: A savoury flavour common in asian cusine, try fish or soy sauce dishes, cured meats, soft cheeses even Vegemite (any fermented products) .Usually an after taste that lingers can give an impression of furriness on the tongue.

Area: Mainly the back of the mouth and roof.

These building blocks are usually playing together in your mouth and are not an island. Similar to the visual flow across the colour spectrum. Where different sensations star at different times and in combination.

Some people are more sensitive to one and less to another. Based on how your taste bud receptors interpret the taste. So when someone tells you they can't taste that bitterness you can taste it may mean they are not sensitive to bitterness but you are. So individually you are both correct just perceiving differently. Totally Subjective.

Find out your strengths and weaknesses by playing around with levels of sugar, acidity,saltiness,bitterness and savoury flavours in your foods.

Round 4

Get into the language of wine by taking what you have learnt in the previous rounds and building upon it. Get a copy of an aroma wheel from a wine site or reference book on wine. Now cover the outside descriptors and just work with the very inside of the wheel with the basic descriptors.

As an example using the UC Davis aroma wheel (see Oxford wine companion), the basic descriptors are as follows: Chemical, Earthy, Woody, Caramelised, Nutty, Vegetative, Fruity , Spicy, Floral, Microbiological, Oxidized and Pungent. Now smell and taste the wine and based on your perception try to class the wines major character into one of these descriptors. Once you are able to do this move on to the next layer of descriptors and then the third layer. As you do this more often you will be able to describe the wine with much more confidence and it can also be fun.

If for instance I was tasting an unwooded Chardonnay I might start as Fruity as the first descriptor and then perceive Tree Fruits and Tropical Fruits and Citrus in the second layer. Looking at the third layer I can then better describe the wine as peach (tree fruits), melon (tropical fruits) and grapefruit (citrus).

As you get better there are terms and descriptors related to balance , structure and mouth feel that you can tackle. But for the moment concentrate on the more aromatic and basic flavour descriptors.

Round 5

Now come out swinging and get together with friends and organise your own wine options night.

Everyone brings a wine to the event but no one else knows what you have taken along. Each person gives the others three options about the wine they are tasting and everyone hazards a guess. Do this on several levels and the winner has bragging rights.

Even the best wine judges in the world can get this wrong so don't worry about the result the fun is in the tasting. Use questions like grape variety, country of origin, region, vintage and producer.

Talk about the wines descriptors and the more you do this the better you will become. The beauty of doing this with friends is you all have a good time learning how to taste wine.

Cheers Happy tasting!!!

For further research in tasting; 

Beginner-Intermediate taster try 'HOW TO TASTE WINE'  by Jancis Robinson (no relation)

Food and Wine matching I love 'THE SIMPLE ART OF MARRYING FOOD AND WINE ' by Malcolm Gluck , Mark Hix

For the winemaker/wine judge or seasoned taster 'THE TASTE OF WINE the art and science of wine appreciation' by Emile Peynaud. A invaluable resource on the subject.


                                              




]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1151189 2017-05-03T05:41:13Z 2017-05-03T23:51:20Z Granite Belt Wines


Following On from the previous Article in Part one of the Granite Belt. Here is my take on some great examples of wines in the Granite Belt.

Not Gospel there are many other tasty titbits on offer. Make your own mind up

GRANITE BELT WINES

( I have to declare that I have a long association with the region at Robinson's which will not be included in the discussion other than the 1979 Cabernet below)

What they do well.

Chardonnay, Semillion, Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot , Shiraz , Petit Verdot , Red Blends from these

I have tried many great wines over the years from the exceptional vintages of the early 80's through to the modern day. What has proven to excel are the reds. From blends like the traditional shiraz cabernet through to 100% petit verdot. But if you were ever lucky enough to try the old semillion of Rumbalara back before it became unfashionable to drink semillion it was a grape to admire. Chardonnay receives a mention simply because so many have done so well over the years from national wine of the year in Winestate magazine (Heritage) to trophy for best white wine at a National show (Robert Channon) along with the numerous gold medals around Australia. With the milder days and nights during ripening many wineries under appreciate just what can be done with Chardonnay on the Granite Belt.

I know the list above isn't exciting and new and fashionable but when you try a 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon that your father made forty plus years after he made it and it blows you away it's hard to go past these proven performers. Merlot , in the right hands, can be better than anywhere.

What they claim to do well.

Verdelho

Don't like the variety , never have. This is probably more a reflection of my taste than anything. It just fails to excite me with a mid-palate awkwardness that I don't admire. Friends will bring along a bottle of verdelho for me at wine options just to stir me up.  It's a popular drink for many others. And many wineries have a fresh example. Enough said.

What Shows promise

Tannat , Mourvedre/Mataro/Monastrell, Fiano,Vermentino,Durif

Some producers are making some really exciting wines out of these varieties. Where interesting aromas,flavour and texture really come to the fore.

Surprises

Chenin Blanc

One producer makes Chenin.When you see some of them with a bit of age around 7-10 years they really come into their own. Reminiscent of some of the old Houghton's White Burgundy where Chenin was a major player, it ages so well. That said, it is probably challenging to forge the best out of it every year.

Sangiovese : 

After doing a vintage in Tuscany I know how fickle this variety is to different soils and aspects even within the same vineyard. With so many clones and the vineyard variability it is hard to know where to start when introducing a new variety like this. But I have tried a few fine examples of this variety in the Granite Belt, which came as a surprise to me. The makers must have worked hard to bring out its best.

Riesling: 

One producer has made some fresh citrus and floral rieslings that are of a very high quality. The variety should do well in the region in regards to temperature and granite soils but rainfall during ripening is the major challenge. With a variety that has sensitive skin.

Strange Birds:

The region has many different grape varieties planted and if it's in Australia chances are its in the Granite Belt. The strange bird symbol on the regional map highlights the wineries that have something different. Look out for Graciano and Albarino as something on the horizon.

For My Taste:

Semillion :

Tobin Isabella

Sauvignon Blanc :

Masons wines Cellar Collection, Girraween Estate

Herbaceous Tropical fresh lifted

Chardonnay

Elegant modern Style: Ridgemill Estate

Old School : Ballandean Estate

Unwooded: Girraween Estate

The Estates have it.

There are many other great examples.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Top three for me

Pyramids Road

Harrington Glen (in a good year)

Mason Wines Cellar collection

The wines need cellaring to truly appreciate the length and elegance like a good Bordeaux but if you have them young just match it with a lamb roast or barbecued rib eye fillet.

Tannin Ripeness and ripe fruit is key. Some higher elevations in the region can sometimes struggle to ripen Cabernet fully. Can't over crop if you want quality.

Merlot: Ridgemill Estate

I have had some great merlot from right bank Bordeaux, Eden Valley, Coonawarra and even the Yarra. But the ripe fleshy character and black fruits possible in a ripe example in the Granite Belt can rival anywhere.

Shiraz: Too many great examples

Bigger Style: Golden Grove, Bungawarra

Medium Bodied : Pyramids Road,Whisky Gully

Elegant spicy: many producers do an elegant style with a black pepper spice and black fruits , in a cool year like 2008 or 2009 this can sometimes even be more white pepper.

Others are introducing some whole bunch/berry elements to create a lighter fresher ester lifted easy drinking style.

Mataro: Pyramids Road

Has that rustic tannin firmness and big fruit that ages particularly well.

Red blend: Ravenscroft Waagee or Bungawarra's Paragon

Ask him at the Cellar door about the name. He tells it so well.

Pinotage: Ravenscroft wines

Fortified: Ballandean Estate Muscat

Verdelho: I am not qualified to comment.

But just about everyone makes one. Freshness is key.

Petit Verdot: Mason wines Cellar Collection

Dense good length firm tannins inky has that typical (what I call orange rind) spice on the nose, this variety generally needs time for the tannins and acidity to soften but has all the building blocks of a great wine. It's cabernet sauvignon on steroids.

Fiano: Ballandean estate or Heritage

Saparavi:Ballandean Estate

Super concentrated jubey juicy

Marsanne: Marsanne/Rousanne at Bents Road

Tannat: Just Red Wines or Boreiann

Big tannin dense fruit

Sangiovese: Boreiann

Savoury and round

Nebbiolo: Ballandean Estate

This variety is typically tannin city without the dense fruit of Tannat needs time.

Vermentino:Golden Grove

Fresh and punchy fruit

Riesling : Ridgemill estate

citrus ginger

Durif : Golden Grove

best in a dry year

Malbec : Golden Grove

Big and brooding

Chenin Blanc: Casley Mount Hutton

With age gets an attractive honey toast with tree fruits

Best Older Vintages on Tasting: Casley Mt Hutton

2008 Shiraz probably the pick of them

Barbera

Golden Grove or Boreiann both good examples depending upon oak level preference

Most Underrated Winery:

 Pyramids Road

Readily Available outside region :

Sirromet, Witches Falls, Symphony Hill


Hipster/Modern/Funky: Bents Road (La Petit Mort Range)

Wine styles and Story targeting the younger drinker

Wow Factor Cellar Door: Savina Lane

Napa Valley comes to the Granite Belt great views over the vineyard

Hidden Gem: Bungawarra

Small cosy with good quality reds

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1149963 2017-05-03T02:07:47Z 2018-01-15T18:17:52Z Head in the Clouds

Head in the clouds.


Climbing above the misty morning fog heading west towards the sun. Rising up, constantly ascending ,you come to a elevated garden where the food table is diverse, and the air is thin above the clouds.

Obtrusive rocks are spread through the landscape like a giant toddler has forgotten to put away his marbles. A place unlike any other where the seasons tussle for domination each bringing there own coloured personality. Summers with green and earthen brown, Autumns rustic reds and oranges ,Winter, a cloak of ice and snow whites and greys, Spring a welcome start of floral bliss a burst of colour.

In winter nights are cool and days are clear,with mountain peaks casting gentle shadows over each other as they bid the day adieu and prepare for the brisk evening. The moon soon emerges from it's hiding place from behind the mountains , reflecting the glory of her big brother while granite monoliths reveal themselves in the fractured light.

As the moon descends the true glory of this region is revealed, a stellar cast of glittering white, a vision into the past of a distant galaxy that may no longer exist.

This is the land of Kambuwal , Thunderbolt and Geronimo , of Mackenzie and Fletcher. A land of tin miners,graziers,farmers and forgotten soldiers. A land of Granite.

My father first came to the region in the late 1960's after spending sometime teaching English in Europe. He was searching for land that was familiar to him that spoke of a sense of place. Like the vineyards he had visited in the Northern Rhone and Burgundy while teaching in Lyon, here in the highlands he had found what he was looking for.

From the days of Fletcher and Father Geronimo the vineyards were worked to supply eating grapes to masses. With muscat too ripe for market finding it's way to the Italian communities of the north as vino de tableau to refresh/numb the Ingham cane cutters.

By the late1970's the wine bug had become contagious and all manner of tribes were setting up shop to toil in the soil for their golden elixir.

And as we reach over fifty years since the first wine grapes were planted ,the Granite Belt region has more diversity on offer and sheer quality than ever before.

GRANITE BELT REGION

Climate

When you travel from Brisbane or the coast it can be deceiving just how high you climb. The gradual rise in elevation culminates at the summit (928m) and Eukey (1000m). For every one hundred metres you rise the temperature drops over half of a degree. So the region can historically be between five to ten degrees cooler than the coast and with a relative humidity around 50-60%.

Comparing the region to other wine regions around the world and Australia the Granite Belt has most similarities in temperature to Margaret River and Bordeaux particularly during ripening (both in average and maximum and minimum temperature). Rainfall is more evenly spread over the year than the southern Australian regions, comparing well with quality European wine regions like Bordeaux , The Northern Rhone and Burgundy during the growing season. Average mid summer temperatures are around 21 degrees with the maximum temperatures being particularly mild when the south easterly weather arrives typically in February. The region normally has ripening temperatures from late February to mid April in the range of 17-20 degrees and maximum temperatures between 22-25 degrees.

TEMPERATURE COMPARISON (Degrees Celcius)

REGION

Recorded Years

Mean Temperature of the warmest Month

Average Maximum Temperature of the warmest month

Early Autumn (March/September) Mean Temperature

Early Autumn (March/September) average maximum temperature

Bordeaux/Merignac , Bordeaux France *

  1981-2010

      21.4

         27.1

           18.5    

             24

Cape Naturaliste , Margaret River WA *

1981-2010

     21.3

          26.7

            20.5

              25.5

Applethorpe , Granite Belt Qld *

1981-2010

      21

           26.8

             18.6

               24

Bergerac France*

1981-2010

      21

            27.5

              17.6

              24.2

Witchcliffe Margaret River WA*

1999-2017

      20.8

             27.2

               19.4

               25.7

RAINFALL COMPARISON

REGION

7 month Growing Season Rainfall Mean (mm)

Applethorpe , Granite Belt Qld *

                                           541

Bordeaux/Merignac , Bordeaux France *

                                          504

Bergerac France*

                                           470

Witchcliffe Margaret River WA*

                                            225

Cape Naturaliste , Margaret River WA *

                                             160

*Information from www.bom.gov.au for Margaret River and Granite Belt .

* Information from www.meteofrance.com for Bordeaux and Bergerac

Landscape

The landscape is rugged with boulders of granite spread throughout the district. Some farmers have resorted to dynamite to blast the surface rocks to increase the soil depth (with the odd farm shed coming off second best). On the extreme south east rainforest pockets hide in shaded areas of Girraween National Park while on the western edge the region has a much dryer climate where Ironbark trees become more numerous. Most of the hills remain as native bushland due to the many steep rock slopes making them unsuitable to all but a mountain goat or some adventurous cattle. The rolling farmland below these slopes is covered with apples,stone fruit, salad greens, tomatoes , capsicum, strawberries, grapes,sheep, cattle and the odd lama. The soils for the vineyards are derived from the granite parent rock with sand, sandy-loam and clayey-loam bleached soils similar to some soils in both Alsace France and the Beaujolais cru villages just north of Lyon in France.

National Parks

On the southern end and more picturesque part of the region lie two National Parks the more rugged Sundown National Park on the western edge and Girraween National park on the south eastern section where dominant granite domes give a picture of the parent rocks underneath the whole region.

Food Bowl

The elevation makes the temperate climate more suitable to berries,vegetables and fruits more typical to Tasmania than the pineapple,bananas and mangoes associated with tropical queensland. Here olive groves , cheesemakers ,wineries and vineyards vie for sites amidst the usual suspects (tomatoes,capsicums, salads, apples, stone fruits,strawberries and the grazier crew).

Eating Out

Modern: Try Varias at the QCWT

French style Rural: Food Project on Mcgregor a MUST DO

Winery: Ballandean Cafe

Italian: Annas

Pizza: L'Aquila

Coffe Jam Doughnuts: JAMWORKS

Art Scene

Art in the Mill on the May Day long weekend provides eclectic pieces of pottery,sculpture and paintings to enjoy in the old Ballandean Timber Mill.

The Regional Gallery has some diverse exhibitions throughout the year and is a vibrant regional art space.

Festivals

Apple and Grape Harvest Festival

A bi-annual festival that triples the population. Originally a celebration of the apple orchards and table grape vineyards (2000 acres in 1950) that has given way to the wine grapes. A unique celebration of the fruit and vegetables that grow in the region along with the wine.

Taste

Brass monkey Blue cheese at the Granite Belt Dairy or cocktails at Viscosity

Touch

smoothed granite stones washed and eroded over millions of years

Smell

Eucalypts or acacias in flower or the fresh clean minerally forest floor lifted scents after a rain storm.

Sounds

The many bird calls as you trek throughout the National Parks in the early morning keep an ear out for the black cockatoo screech. If your lucky the lyrebirds, here at their northern limit, might disturb you with their mimicry.

See

#Night Sky (where did all those stars come from) ,check out the globular clusters from a local telescope.

#Wedgetail eagles circling above the valleys, on those clear calm sunny April days.

#Get a selfie with the Fruitasaurus at Ballandean

Activity

Climb up Slip Rock with views to the Pyramids below. Or hike through the many great walks in Girraween National park.

Nearby

Check out the eclectic old school cafes in the historic town of Tenterfield just across the border.

Wineries

There are over sixty wineries now apparently. With many different styles on offer. When one considers they have less than 1% of the industry, the regions wines do incredibly well in awards and wine reviews. With many high accolades and medals being continually won from as far back as 1975 through to today. When the wines are tasted on their merits they perform. Try it yourself, grab a known southern producer that is well regarded and try one of the wines listed in the next article against them in the same style and price category. Here's the trick though, get a friend to show you the wines blind without knowing which is which then pick your preference. My money is on the Granite Belt producer.

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1143059 2017-04-01T06:46:56Z 2017-04-27T04:47:01Z What Makes Great Wine?

What Makes Great Wine?


Like anything subjective this is an absurd question.

It's as if you were turning up to a blind date and the woman you meet bombards you with her list of questions. What's your favourite movie? What's your favourite food? If you were stranded on a deserted island with one other person who would it be?

All valid questions , but if you had not already run for the hills, everyone's answer would be different and to gauge the “right answer” for the suitor you would need a degree in psychology. Let alone restricting your answers to a single response.So to with wine one persons Chateau Margaux is another persons overly drying red wine.

So to break it down despite the subjectivity clause, what is great? And how does the fermented grape juice rise above it's humble beginnings?

To be great things need to be above the ordinary. Really Sherlock!!

Ordinary wine is simple, lacks intensity, easy to drink but hard to savour.

It is defined mainly by what it lacks; balance , length, texture, structure, aroma, bouquet, mouth feel, complexity, varietal definition , typicality, terroir and above all flavour ( I know that some of these terms sound like a construction sites glossary but in a way great wines have layers).



So how do you rise above and make extraordinary wine?


Well there are two types of 'Great' wine. The wine on the page and the wine in the glass.


The wine on the page is about pedigree, awards, tradition, price, fashion, marketing hype, capital expenditure, press and scale. Some are valid guides to 'Great' wine but by no means infallible. For at the end of the day these things can fail to equate to the most important criteria. GREAT WINE IN THE GLASS.


Great wine in the glass takes you to another place the floral,citrus and honeyed toast of an aged riesling, the complex flavours of a great Bordeaux blend that gives you violets and cassis framed in a firm savoury elegance, that changes in the glass as you get towards the bottom of the bottle. Great wine when matched well with food can heighten the experience of both. Where the flavours and characters of the food dance with the wine on your tongue. To pass these things off as wine snobbery ( more about wine on the page), really means that you have yet to experience such delights. If this is not your thing cool. But if you are interested in food and wine it means you have some fun things to discover.


Making 'Great' wine comes down to capturing something in the bottle that speaks to you.

That makes this wine much more enjoyable and memorable than what you normally quaff.

A winemaker/vigneron/vintner does this by bringing an expertise and passion to what thy do. For at every stage of the grape growing to wine making to maturation there are forks in the road where choices can be made to dictate the quality and style of the wine. What choices are made and how they are executed ultimately dictates the quality and greatness of the wine.


These days many wine industry people comment on how wine is made in the vineyard. This is partially true. For great wine to be made the grapes need to have the right balance of acidity, tannin, sugar, flavour and colour for the style of wine intended. And to do this the vineyard needs to provide the right climate, soil and management to deliver the grapes in these optimum conditions.

How is this done?


#Do your research.

#Matching climate to particular grape varieties.

Planting the right grapevines in the right site can make a huge difference to the balance of the grapes. Their are optimum conditions for temperature and moisture status for particular grape varieties, And more suitable aspects and soils. Sites within a region or even a vineyard can be quite different.

# Don't rely heavily on so called experts.

Many 'experts' do not have local knowledge. You will gain much more insight into a site or a region by talking to locals who have been growing crops for years than relying on the high flying consultants for advice. In my experience many 'gurus' bring unintended bias to the table.


# Growing grapes for yield versus quality

Some grape varieties have a more forgiving tolerance for higher yields than others when it comes to delivering quality. However, generally speaking 'Great' wine comes from vineyards in balance where the leaf to fruit ratio is kept in check either naturally or by management practices.

Growing grapes where acid,sugar and yield are delivered is very different than growing for flavour and balance.


# Management practices

Techniques to optimise the conditions for ripening the fruit can delivery quality into the winery. Consistant, clean, ripe balanced fruit can be achieved based on manipulating canopies and soil conditions and the timing of certain practices for light infiltration, cropping level, disease control and microclimate stability. Practices on one site vineyard or region may not be suitable in a different place. Know your site.


Once the vineyard delivers optimal fruit on the vine it is quite critical to harvest this fruit in the right window of opportunity and at the right temperature and urgency and condition so as not lose any characters.


The process once in the winery takes on many avenues depending upon the style of wine. But certain criteria hold true for making 'Great' wine.


# Know your fruit

An understanding of the vineyard and where and how it has grown is almost essential. Some winemakers may get away with a lack of familiarity but will not be able to make truly great wine year in and year out from this vineyard without being familiar. Certainly to make improvements they will need to have a control from which to tweek management practices. A communicative and open relationship with a vineyard manager on the same page if a larger operation would be critical.

Knowing the level of ripeness and how that equates to wine style. Let the fruit reach it's full potential in complementing it with the right techniques to get the best out of what you have. Particularly in regards to acidity, extraction, oak, tannin,alcohol potential,colour, flavour , definition and mouth feel.


# Know the potential

Get a handle on the age ability and maturation spectrum of the wines your making and how certain techniques are more suitable to making extraordinary wine for particular wine styles.Taste as many different styles as possible.

Experience in how wines age from everywhere as well as your own vineyard and region is helpful in choosing which path to follow.

# Find your Niche

While having a burgudian like Pinot Noir you may get a following. Be different, don't follow the crowd. Do what you do well. Right now alternative varieties are all the rage and are a point of difference. But if everyone has them they lose their panache. By matching the site suitability and marketability of a wine with your passion and uniqueness you will make great wine that should sell. But don't sacrifice the last two for the first two as then you become just another winery/food technologist. Truly 'Great ' wine is unique even within one region.


# Bring passion to the table


# Do your homework

To truly deliver extraordinary wine you have to have a full arsenal of wine making techniques at your disposal. If you are making traditional wines in a traditional region and are following traditional methods. Understand why they work so that when troubleshooting you become a valuable part of the team. Innovation in traditional areas puts you ahead of the game. In a region where more modern processes are followed don't be afraid of low tech old world solutions but understand what they bring to the table. For the minimalist low interventionist organic winemaker. Being hands off requires a very extensive knowledge of the risks involved. Like Miles Davis, you have to know all the notes before knowing what not to play. To pretend otherwise is just a sloppy approach and speaks more of marketing than true intent or even worse ignorance. Great wine doesn't have a caveat it speaks for itself.


# experiment and give yourself options

Try new approaches within the scope of doing your homework and give yourself options to blend. Learn to adapt to what the vintage delivers.


# Focus

Maintain a focus while still giving yourself options to create. Don't try to be all things to all men.

Make something you are proud of.


# Goes without saying it must have the 'BIG YUMS' factor.

Doing a vintage with an English bloke who used to work at Odd bins I remember him saying that this wine has the 'BIG YUMS' factor.

The wine in the end has to taste delicious for the style intended. The enjoyability factor is vital. Would you want to drink a bottle of this wine. Don't let artefact get in the way.

Finally 'Great' wine needs to be shared. For to truly appreciate it, you need to see how others react and how you react in their company. Sure you can truly appreciate it on your own. But the experience will be or the more richer in good company. I do stress good company, don't waste it on your relative that only drinks Rum. You need to have a people filter and that is probably the hardest choice knowing who to share it with.


Still it's not like your pulling teeth.



]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/1092070 2017-02-05T05:30:19Z 2017-02-10T04:33:44Z Margaret River Coastal Beauty

The first time you visit the Margaret River Region you are struck by the expansive beauty of the coastal beaches and inlets. With many different wineries and as many surf breaks the region unveils itself slowly to the new visitor. Great galleries , forests and food along with the rolling beauty of grazing cattle and vineyard country interspersed between Karri and Marri forests.

My first visit to the region was back in the early days working for Houghton's a winery in the Swan valley which garners grapes from all over the state. I was lucky to get an invitation to a tasting at Cullen's called 21 great chardonnay's of the world because the winemakers at the time couldn't go. It was a great introduction to the quality of wines from the region. With the Cullen"s Chardonnay at the time being the pick of the wines.

Some years later I have returned to do a vintage at Vasse Felix and working in the region gave me plenty of time to absorb the culture and get around to the many wineries of the region.

THE REGION

Margaret river lies on the far south western corner of Australia it is surrounded on three sides with Ocean. The Ocean and its breezes and the direction of air drainage play an important role in determining the warmth of each vineyard site with sub-regions being warmer if the ocean influence air drainage and breezes are from the north versus cooler if southerly influences dominate. The area varies quite a lot in terms of temperature with the more southerly influenced sites being up to two degrees cooler during the day and with a higher annual rainfall than the northern part of the region. 

Climate 

The region has a Mediterranean climate with only around one hundred and fifty to two hundred milimetres (150-200mm) falling during the growing season. The ocean influences give the region a maritime climate with the temperature range from day to night being quite mild compared to many other Southern Australian regions. It has similarities to Bordeaux in regards to temperature but is slightly warmer particularly in the traditional northern sections of Willyabrup. The rainfall is however much lower than Bordeaux (500mm) but the average seasonal afternoon relative humidities are similar. 

Wineries

The many wineries in the region cater for all manner of visitor.

 If you want to seek out Quality smaller producers that make great wine the following are a great way to start Windance, Woodlands, Flametree and Brown Hill estate.

For medium to larger producers that give a great experience with very high quality wine try the following Chateau Xanadu, Cape Mentelle, Howard Park, Vasse Felix and Voyager Estate.

For traditional styles and founding producers try Cullens , Leeuwin Estate and Pierro.

For large commercial cheap and cheerful where you just are out for a good day and are not looking for anything to complicated try 3 Oceans, Watershed and Swings and Roundabouts.

Margaret River

What they do well:

Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab blends, Petit Verdot and Semillion Sauvignon blanc both in the grassy style and the more complex barrel lees style.

What they claim to do well:

Everything. If you meet a local you will soon realise that all things Margaret River are the best in the world. Surf, people the wine and anything else from the region. According to them anyway. They claim to live in the best place on earth even the people who have not ventured outside Western Australia hold this view. The reality is close to  this, it is a pretty good place to visit, but there are great wines elsewhere great beaches and surf elsewhere although not many together (Chile, Southwest France , New Zealand and Portugal come to mind). The small town syndrome is far outweighed by the positives with great food wine and surf. If your visiting you get to taste and experience the best it has to offer. Just avoid the winter wet season.


Hidden gems

Mosswood, Ashbrook estate, Mchenry Hohnen, Cape Grace


What only the select few do well in the region

Shiraz (Windance,Brown Hill Estate, Churchview)

Favourite: Brown Hill

Merlot (Happs)

Best maker of

Chardonnay :

 Big full malo style: Leeuwin estate; Pierro

Elegant style: Fraser Gallop and Vasse Felix, 

Fruit lift between big and elegant:  Woodlands. 

Favorite: Woodlands Chloe.

Sauvignon Blanc Semillion blends 

fresh grassy style: just about everyone,

 textured style : Stella Bella Suckfizzle and Vasse Felix

Favourite: Suckfizzle

Cabernet Sauvignon

Flametree, Woodlands,Mosswood, Houghtons Gladstones

Favourite:Woodlands

Petit Verdot

Tassell Park, Chateau Xanadu and Cape Clairault

Favourite: Chateau Xanadu

Cabernet Blends

Mchenry Hohnen, Cullens, Cape Mentelle

Favourite:Cape Mentelle

Zinfandel

Cape Mentelle

Food and Beer

Food:The Studio Bistro, The Margaret River Bakery (Breakfast), The Common bistro, Cafe Boranup , Blue Ginger Fine Foods(coffee, deli),Bunker bay

There are about seven breweries in the region with quite different styles catering to families or more about food. Most look over the rolling cattle grazing country and are a welcome palate change to the wine.

Galleries 

The Studio Gallery, Boranup and Yallingup Galleries

Surf

I liked surfing around Gracetown and some of the small beachy's off Margarets as well as some power waves at Margarets, Yallingup has some great breaks. Depending on conditions you will find a wave that suits unless the winds have picked up. The choice for waves is prodigious and other than surfing near seal populations in the north its wise to surf in numbers. Every local has a shark story, and with the big waves coming from deep water to shallow it also brings in the great whites. I was lucky but a few weeks after I left the region there was an attack right at the break I regularly surfed.If your brave enough head out to the Cow bombie for some of the biggest waves you are ever likely to see.

Caves


Mammoth jewel or lake cave are all worth a visit these ancient hidden gems are scattered below the Karri and Marri forests in the local national parks

Forests 

On the southern end of the region south of the Margaret River township around Boranup there are small stretches of local karri trees climbing up to 60m above the forest floor take a nice drive south along caves road and you will stumble across them. The remaining forests are made up of mostly the Marri trees.

Camping

Contos or Hamelin Bay are great places to camp and can be serene not attracting the same crowds as the more northerly sections of the region.

TASTE:roasted nibs of cocoa beans before the chocolate is made at one of the local chocolaterrias

SIGHT: Watch armies of kite surfers do their aerobatics when the wind and the waves reach epic proportions at Margarets.

SOUND:Listen to french backpackers in the park North of Margaret River township gather(as they do) and bring out their guitars or debate.

TOUCH: walk the beaches south of Prevelly in the early morning with the cold sand between your toes while watching the sanderlings try to avoid the ebb and flow of of the waves on the shoreline.

ACTIVITY: Ride a mountain bike through the region along the old railroad track which is now a bike trail.



]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/776254 2015-07-25T06:07:42Z 2015-07-25T07:06:36Z max three vina errazuriz ]]> vintage nomad tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/776229 2014-11-29T00:37:31Z 2014-11-29T00:37:31Z Vina Errazuriz Chile intro

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/603316 2013-09-22T02:58:33Z 2015-07-25T07:08:15Z Chile Coastal

Coastal Valley vineyards of Chile 16th March 

Casablanca and the coastal Aconcagua are cooler areas than the inland regions due to the maritime influences from the cold ocean currents traveling up the western seaboard. With sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir being the major varieties.The days don't get as warm there is more humidity and the nights are milder.

Casablanca

Casablanca lies around twenty to thirty km from the coast and 40 to 50km wnw of Santiago with some variation in the soil profiles, ridges and steep hills either granitic cream grey sandy loam over sand going into stony pebbles or a higher iron content redder loamy soils. On the lower parts of the valley a heavier dark grey clay soil is predominant, it tends to delay the ripening of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc due to both usually a higher crop but also a cooler soil, compared to the others. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are harvested in mid to late march the more clay soils into april. Frost can be a problem earlier in the season and the easterly facing slopes are the coolest in the area.I found the chardonnay here particularly good, but it is very dependent upon the clone,site, management and crop load. the clones 96 and 548 being particularly impressive in regards to the fruit and acid balance. One vineyard of sauvignon blanc on the red soil was very impressive with a combination of herbaceous, mineral fruit and acid freshness. 

Aconcagua costa(coastal)

Is about 10 to 20 km from the coast and some 80 to 100km nw of Santiago the vineyard i visited was off the valley floor and quite simply a breathtaking vineyard. Every aspect and microclimate was covered and in an extraordinary fashion with steep rows that climb the heights and reach the depths of the property. Here the sauvignon blanc in certain sites (mainly the cooler spots either protected from the afternoon sun or exposed to the coastal winds) were particularly varietal, the more protected and warmer spots less so. Chardonnay here was more round and full not as much acid as Casablanca. They also have a pinot and syrah on the top of the hills on sites exposed to the coastal winds.  The pinot having red fruits and the syrah some pepper and berry but it  was a bit early to tell for the syrah. They were picking sauvignon blanc and chardonnay at the time of visiting and this was in mid- march. 

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/520467 2012-12-03T04:45:00Z 2015-07-25T07:09:25Z Petit Verdot Bunch Sorting

Petit Verdot Bunch sorting final day of crushing in Dry Creek Valley

 

 

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/520468 2012-12-02T18:40:00Z 2017-05-17T03:30:22Z Dry Creek Sonoma

Dry Creek Vineyards


Goblet (Bush Vines)         

  VSP(vertical shoot position

Lyre Trellis

 Californian Sprawl


Sonoma Valley

Lying north of San Francisco about one and a half hours drive you come to the Sonoma Valley. Running parallel with its more famous big brother the Napa valley. There is a lot of diversity along the valley and ridges and many wineries and

vineyards to visit.

The area is split into many sub appellations from Alexander Valley and Knights Valley in the North

East to Dry Creek and Rockpile in the north west Russian River and its sub regions of Chalk Hill and Green Valley in the middle going down to Sonoma Valley in the south and into Carneros closest to San Francisco which shares its appellation with the Southern end of the Napa Valley. The final appellation is Sonoma Coast a large region that encompasses all of the coast north of Russian River itself and then inland down to Carneros. Most of the area is effected by the fogs that roll in from the ocean.

However unlike the Napa that gets the bay area fogs in the morning the Sonoma valley fog entry point is both the Russian river mouth and the San Pablo Bay. Depending on where you are in the valley and how early the fogs lift and drain away determines what will ripen here. From a cold 10 degree morning (50 fahrenheit) to a 35 degree (95 Fahrenheit) hot sun afternoon this can make even consistent ripening a little difficult. Many of the vineyards have the mist in the morning and the baking sun in the afternoon with the only breeze created when the fogs retreat back towards the ocean. Grapes varieties that have tighter bunches and thin skins will be prone to botrytis if there is any moisture about and even in dry years the misty fogs can still induce botrytis particularly in Zinfandel.

Most of the vineyards are trellised either with VSP,Lyre trellis,the Californian Sprawl(on single or T- trellises) or goblet bush vines. Some produces will leaf pluck the morning sun side where little or no sun reaches (depending on how many days they have fog free). And non-leaf pluck for protection against the afternoon baking sun. These are generally north south facing vineyards. The area may well be one of the few regions suitable to east west facing vineyards. Some will try leaf plucking others will drop fruit at veraison ( when the grapes change from green and start to colour up) and some well beyond veraison. Others crop way to heavily and will over expose the berries on the morning side to compensate for the cropload. Sauvignon blanc, viognier and chardonnay are the main white varieties here. With the most exceptional examples coming from Russian River for sauvignon blanc and chardonnay where the fogs lift later. 

Viognier 

Sauvignon blancs tend to have noticeable alcohol and are more textural than NZ examples and are more passionfruit pineapple and tropical fruit.As the US public don’t seem to warm to the lantana/tomato leaf (methoxy) aromas and flavour and tend to not like high acid wine styles generally.

Overcropped    

     Fruit Thinning

   Low Vigour (Needs water and or nutrition particularly on shallower stony soils)  

     High Vigour Needs management  

The chardonnays have noticeable oak even in more toned down versions and buttery creamy malolactic styles with considerable alcohol heat are still the fashion. The trend in Australia to more restrained acid line and length styles does not seem to have any noticeable momentum here.Dry Creek seems suited for viognier where the sun emerges earlier relative to Russian River. 

Zinfandel degrees of berry shrivel from the same bunch

 

The viognier is particularly good from Porter Creek, Dry Creek

Vineyard and Lambert Bridge and most one’s i have tried have been good to

great examples with lifted apricots and orange blossom and a full but not fat character with a good phenolic fullness that is not aggressive.

The reds vary widely based on not only site but also on vineyard management. Zinfandel the most prestigious variety in Dry Creek in terms of price anywhere up to 5000 to 8000 dollars a tonne is also the most difficult to grow with red unripe fruit, ripe fruit and heavily raisin fruit all on the same bunch. Combined with the propensity for botrytis and up to 50% of the acidity being malic acid , its a variety I would not grow personally. Other varieties that seemed more suitable for dry creek were malbec and cabernet franc these looser bunched varities having a better balance of fruit acid and tannin and no botrytis problems. Cabernet Sauvignon does well but tannin development can lag behind the fruit/acid and sugar parameters although they seem to be better in Alexander Valley. And Merlot just doesn’t seem to gain any generosity or flesh still having green hints and unripe tannins/phenolics. Syrah or Shiraz

depending on your postal address does well both in Dry Creek and further north west in Alexander valley. Unfortunately it is not fashionable with the locals a bit like semillion in Australia. The big alcoholic fruit bomb variety is I guess zinfandel and the spicy leaner shiraz style would not be in vogue with the general wine consumer or the wine spectator palates. Petit Verdot seems well suited from what i observed and tasted.With great acidity and fruit concentration brown seeds firm and clean fruit with a ph in the order of 3.3 and a brix of around 26 ( 14.4 baume). And Peite Sirah (supposedly Durif) is the colour and extract booster which can be a bit much on its own.

Other french varieties are being tried on a smaller scale like Grenache, Mouvedre,Marsanne and Rousanne.

Finally what I think is most interesting are the successful experimentation with all things Italian.

White varities such as Fiano , Vermentino and the red garden of Barbera, Dolcetto Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo (cherry like in looks and flavour), Mammolo (violets sometimes seen in old chianti blends), Nebbiolo and Montelpuciano ( that is almost black in colour fleshy tasting without any perceivable aggressive tannin). The reds in particular shows signs of providing flavour without needing alcohol and oak to get in the way from savoury with something like Sangiovese to more fruit forward flesh from Montelpuciano.

 


]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/520469 2012-09-18T14:48:00Z 2015-07-25T07:10:51Z HEALDSBURG HAVENS

Healdsburg Havens

  In Healdsburg the first thing you notice are 

the beautifully well kept large porch homes with a 

splash of red white and blue proudly displayed up front and some neat well kept gardens. When you reach the central town plaza a few lonesome large redwoods rise up to meet you surrounded by great restaurants, bakeries, boutiques and wine tasting rooms.

There are over 250 wineries in Sonoma, with more than 20 tasting rooms in Healdsburg itself all within walking distance. What better way to introduce yourself to the flavors of Sonoma.

I managed to try eight places and all of them were of a high standard. Of particular note were three smaller producers. 

The first Williamson wines was interesting for the way they matched food and wine. A large selection of wines but the food matches like truffle salt and cheese or a mango ginger cheddar is what made the experience particularly fun.

Stephen and Walker around the corner made a textually rich and riper tropical style Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River and some savory Zinfandels from both Russian River and the warmer Dry Creek Valley which i liked. They also had a rich and complex 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from a highly regarded Napa Valley vineyard subregion called Howell Mountain.

The last of the three amigos was Hawley Winery. Not a bad wine in the whole list. First rate quality. From the fresh and clean NZ style Sauvignon Blanc, a rich varietal orange blossom Viognier and  a european styled elegant textural Chardonnay a little funky and doesn’t have oak as a main component. The reds didn’t disappoint the richest and most intense Zinfandels of the day with that baked christmas cake character I associate with great Zins (due in part to some raisins in ferment). And both the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon had a sophistication and elegance that can only come from a winemaker who really knows what they are doing. Hats off to you Mr Hawley.

 

Novel Browsing

 

Wandering through the centre you will stumble upon Copperfields a chain that has a good selection of magazines and a small but interesting selection of coffee book style selections. For a more in depth  and compelling read just across the plaza their is Levin & co. Here you will find great food and wine information, a good selection of novels and interesting hard to find books. The layout of the store has a chaotic library feel that any book lover will really get into just for sheer diversity and scope. The store is locally based and has a real personality. Grab a read and then pick up a coffee and something hot at the Downtown Bakery just next door.

 

 

Smell

The intense aromas of the Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley of fruitcake and Chocolate berry at any of the wine tasting rooms in Healdsburg.

Taste

At Campo Fino as  many courses of three share bite sized dishes from great pizza to pork belly as you can muster. Wash it down with a great Vermentino or any of the local reds on offer.

Sights

Check out the cute couples and dog walking oddities of people around the plaza that seem to appear on the weekend. Up from San Francisco or further afield for their weekend wine and food fix. 

 

 

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/520470 2011-05-15T21:28:00Z 2017-05-17T03:07:54Z Extreme Vineyards


The Vintage  Nomad

A  Beautiful Coastline of Olive groves, grapevines and picturesque villages

 Extreme Viticulture

 Throughout Cinque Terre on the terraces that dot the coast the grapevines tan in constant sunlight, struggling like resting climbers for a foothold before plunging into the Mediterranean.

 After a winding and treacherous drive from Pisa relying on the local Bus driver to keep you alive you will arrive at Riomaggiore the first of five villages know collectively  as CINQUE TERRE . This part of central Italy was for many years separated from most of the country, as the only way in to the communities was by boat. Even today it is not easy to get into them and most  cars are rendered useless due to the narrow roads to the villages. Old golf cart like three wheelers seem to be the vehicle of choice. However a train now runs along the coastline stopping at each village making it more lazy traveller friendly.

Being  the most southern, Riomaggorie main vista is really the only street in the town rising up from the sea which small boats use   as a jetty, the clean slatted street climbs some fifty metres above the water giving you great views towards the other villages. Heading for Corniglia you weave through the village  labyrinth and emerge out  on a breathtaking terrace that sits out of the town like a crows nest, with magnificent views in both directions.

The vineyard and fruit growing terraces of the region are UNESCO listed having been established and farmed from as early as when the Normans first invaded the area.

Bosca, vermentino and albarola are the three grape varieties used to make the local speciality. They are grown in all manner of styles  up individual stakes to be mostly overhead trellises, where the fruit hangs down protected from the mid September sun. Small plots mainly no bigger than a small motel pool before the land falls away to the next terrace.

The grapes are picked into 40 litre baskets and loaded onto the back carriages and then the bloke who drew the short straw takes them up to the main road some 50 to 100m above.The driver seat being just a plastic chair you would use in any school assembly hall.

Arriving at the local winery co-op, a  wine is made from partially drying the  grapes on racks in the shade, providing heightened sweet berries with a greater acidity due to the natural water evaporation. These grapes are then crushed and are given some skin contact to extract more of the sugars.

The resultant wine is known as Sciacchetra an interesting mix of madeirised brown apple nutty raisined apricot sweetness followed by a fresh and lively acid finish, it has a deep golden amber colour. A wine that goes particularly well with the local deli spread of salami creamy buffalo mozzarella on a foccacia.

Views from above the villages where the temperature is considerably cooler and the air fresh with the smell of the pine forest, not many tourists are up at the heights preferring to stay on the main paths making them very quiet peaceful retreats.

Architecture with old world charm and stunning vistas are also on offer

    The  local villas offer stunning views and some of the narrow laneways hold visual surprises with neat well kept windowsill gardens and colourful pastels and rustic red walls. 

The shutters all bear a consistent deep green and the mailboxes have a certain charm. This in combination with the people, the hikes the vistas and the food and wine make for a rich experience.

Sights Sunset on the crows nest in Corniglia. Or any vista from the

paths between and above the villages.

Sounds

 Debating in the square in Corniglia in late afternoon in your best garbled Italian about nothing in particula

Activity


Kayaking between the five villages here coming into Vernazza

Taste

The local chilli mussels washed down with the sweet nutty and apricot madeirised yet fresh acidic Schiacchetera wine

Smell


 
Pine forest floor freshness emanating from the slopes as you hike to the top peaks above the villages.

r.


 



.

 


 

 


 

 


 


 

 


 

 


 


 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
vintage nomad
tag:vintagenomad.com,2013:Post/520471 2010-09-13T09:55:56Z 2013-10-08T17:12:35Z The Journey Begins

From humble beginnings the nomad travels across the globe seeking activities, tastes, flavours and smells that arouse his interest. From far flung corners of the continents to well travelled paths, the experience of a travelling vinofile getting his hands dirty all to unravel the mysteries of the ancient vitis vinifera. The Journey is about to begin.  

]]>
vintage nomad