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Local vintages not going to be cheap!

By johnboy - 16 April 2012 17

The wine makers are letting the world know they’re expecting to make small numbers of rather good wine this year after tricky growing conditions:

An abundance of soil moisture across the season and ideal temperatures during the ripening period has resulted in excellent soil conditions, excellent vine health and superb fruit across a range of varieties.

Unfortunately, widespread and severe rainfall, coupled with isolated hail storms, took its toll on some of the region’s vineyards, with berry split and hail damage increasing disease risk and subsequent fruit loss. Timing of these weather events was particularly debilitating on the earlier ripening white varieties.

“While handpicking is common across the district in any season, selective handpicking was the only choice for many growers,” Chris continued. “This increases the costs of maintaining fruit quality, as there is no market for B-grade fruit.”

As with the 2011 vintage, fruit is coming in with excellent flavours and colours and lower than usual Baumes, creating opportunities for winemakers to craft award-winning wines at lower alcohol levels. By using selective picking and careful winemaking techniques to mitigate hail and disease damage, experienced winemakers and growers will still have excellent wines, although quantities may be reduced.

“2012 has certainly been a challenging year for the district’s growers and winemakers, but shows all the signs of producing some excellent wines, albeit at smaller volumes,” said Chris.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Local vintages not going to be cheap!
dungfungus 6:30 pm 16 Apr 12

I’ve recently discovered the quality of the local stuff and for $25 per bottle (cheaper by the dozen) the Surveyors Hill 2009 Cab/Sav is as good as anything else available. Choices in wine is a very subjective thing and I am no expert (thank God) but qulity is usually commensurate with price. I believe we should support the local product. The unique cool climate wine industry and their restaurants is one of the few small enterprises we have and I predict it will become more popular for Sydneysiders than the Hunter Valley, especially the road access. Let’s support it enthusiastically.

poetix 6:21 pm 16 Apr 12

rosscoact said :

oooh oooh, forgot another one

Capital wines The Black Rod sparkling red, I’m not a big fan of the genre but this one is a beaut

Sparkling red is an abomination.

rosscoact 6:11 pm 16 Apr 12

With thanks to Jason Lett and quoted in Fiona Beckett’s blog http://winemadenaturally.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/why-are-some-red-wines-so-soft-and.html

This is how they make the industrial red we buy in the supermarkets

“So here is how to make plush, succulent, easy drinking reds:

* Grow it in a climate where the variety hits 25 -30 brix reliably every year. This would be a climate far warmer than where the variety naturally evolved. (This will cause the natural acids in the grape to metabolize away, so add some acid in the winery. Not too much – the commercial palate likes reds in the pH 3.7 to 3.9 range.)

* Ripening grapes this far increases the risk of rot, so spray a lot of fungicide in the vineyard.

* When you bring the grapes into the winery, you could reduce potential alcohol to 16% by adding water to the dehydrated fruit – or you could use a super-yeast tolerant to up to 18% alcohol.

* Add tannins selected for smoothness. They come from a bag and will help plush out the texture of the wine.

* Use enzymes and cryoextraction to decompose the cell structures in the skin and completely extract the wine. Don’t worry if you release harsh components in the process; these can be removed later.

* Don’t ferment all the way to dryness. This will limit the amount of tannins the wine extracts, and 1 – 3% residual sugar will mask all kinds of harshness. It also limits the alcohol a bit. And it leaves in a lot of tutti frutti esters for juicy aroma.

* Now you have a high alcohol, sweet, low acid wine which is in great danger of going bacterial – a biological and fungal timebomb waiting to happen. So sterile filter on the way to barrel. This reduces the tannins further.

* Go into new oak barrels (or use oak chips) which are specifically heat treated to reduce harsh tannin and increase wood-sugars, vanillins, and lactones for even more smoooooth sweetness.

* Use a malolactic strain selected for smoothness. Immediately after malic is complete, add 100 – 150 parts per million SO2 to prevent bacteriological takeover. Continue to add more SO2 on a regular basis.

* Further reduce tannins by fining. Add any number of soluable proteins which bind to tannins and settle them to the bottom of the barrel.

* Rack the wine from barrel, blend in tank

* Filter so tightly that all living organisms are stripped away. Or add the chemical DMDC (dimethyl dicarbonate) to kill all populations of bacteria and yeasts and proclaim “unfiltered.”

* Use a spinning cone apparatus or reverse osmosis filter, to bring the alcohol down from 16-18% to 14.5% or less

* Add gum arabic, which is allowed as a “wine stabilizer” but which actually serves the purpose of bulking the mid-palate and increasing the perception of sweetness.

* Add yet more SO2

* Bottle it, label it, and send it out for scoring”

mezza76 4:48 pm 16 Apr 12

Watson said :

mezza76 said :

Watson said :

Frankly, I don’t get how they manage to survive here when they already sell their wine at above average prices and don’t have a particularly good reputation. I think the climate may be well suited for some white wines – though not sure as I don’t drink them. But despite me being happy drinking cheap SA wine, all of the local red wines I have tasted were very spicy – with like a nutmeggy taste. I don’t know a thing about wine making, I just like drinking the stuff, so I hope someone here may have an explanation for that.

Ok, now im annoyed. Canberra district actually has a winderful repuation and it’s growing in stature. Clonakilla has won numerous awards – not least for its Shiraz Viognier (a red one if you are not sure) – which won Wine of the Year for 3 years. Other vinyards like Lark Hill have been poineers in terms of organic winery techniques.

Price aside (which I’ll acknowledge they are not cheap), the region is sky rocketing – and my suggestion would be to stop buying the stuff in the cask.

I only commented that I find the wines I have tried spicy? Not a cask fan myself, but to each their own.

Anywho, glad to hear that they are doing well. Obviously I like stories of local businesses doing well.

Sorry – my mistake – thought you were dishing the region which IMO has done an awful lot to bring in a bit of tourism and give the region a real reputation for quality wine. @pajs and rosscoact both outlined some of the leading stars.

They wont be as cheap as SA/VIC/NZ mainly because of the scale of their operations. Wineries like Clonakilla is small compared to the huge Yulumba/Penfolds of the world where the majority is mass produced and owned by multinationals. But if you go to a Canberra winery – chances are you’ll be chatting to the guy/girl to made it for you behind the bar… sometimes I think that’s worth a touch extra.

rosscoact 4:47 pm 16 Apr 12

oooh oooh, forgot another one

Capital wines The Black Rod sparkling red, I’m not a big fan of the genre but this one is a beaut

Watson 4:13 pm 16 Apr 12

pajs said :

Watson, I reckon your info might be a bit out of date. Canberra is rocketing along, reputation wise. Have a look at the majopr Australian wine guides (Halliday, Nick Stock’s book etc) and you’ll see Canberra Distrct labels picking up some top gongs and scores.

Yes, there’s still some average gear at above average prices kicking around the district. But if you think about Clonakilla, Ravensworth, Collector, Eden Road, Nick O’Leary Wines you’ve got a group of top-class producers at or near the top of the tree for what they do. In that group, you can also find some good value drinking. It’s not sub-$10 a bottle territory, which needs economies of scale, machine-picking, machine-pruning, suiting the hotter regions better than here. But have a squiz at what Eden Road are doing in their $15 a bottle ‘Seedling’ range of wines (10% off in a dozen), or Clonakilla’s Hilltops shiraz, or the Collector ‘Marked Tree’ red, or Bryan Martin’s Ravensworth range of wines.

Watson, I get the sense you don’t like spicy flavours in red wine. That’s what you are going to get from cool to cold wine regions, like Canberra. Less sugar, more natural acid, more spice (including pepper in shiraz), and medium-bodied wines that suit a heap of foods. If your preference is for big, rich, syrupy and black-fruited, higher-alcohol reds, then more power to you. That’s what much of the Australian wine industry in South Australia is geared up to provide. But it’s not the style you’ll get from cool climate regions.

As for c_c … I’ve never tasted a Helm red wine I’d pay for. Not something I’d base a sweeping judgement of a district on. Drop into Plonk and try a few bottles from the brands I’ve mentioned above, or take a run out to the wineries one weekend. Things have changed a lot in the last four years.

Thanks for explaining the spiciness! I’m afraid I just could not get used to that. But it is good to know that there is a market for these cold climate wines.

Though your description has made me tempted to try a few more local ones.

Watson 4:10 pm 16 Apr 12

mezza76 said :

Watson said :

Frankly, I don’t get how they manage to survive here when they already sell their wine at above average prices and don’t have a particularly good reputation. I think the climate may be well suited for some white wines – though not sure as I don’t drink them. But despite me being happy drinking cheap SA wine, all of the local red wines I have tasted were very spicy – with like a nutmeggy taste. I don’t know a thing about wine making, I just like drinking the stuff, so I hope someone here may have an explanation for that.

Ok, now im annoyed. Canberra district actually has a winderful repuation and it’s growing in stature. Clonakilla has won numerous awards – not least for its Shiraz Viognier (a red one if you are not sure) – which won Wine of the Year for 3 years. Other vinyards like Lark Hill have been poineers in terms of organic winery techniques.

Price aside (which I’ll acknowledge they are not cheap), the region is sky rocketing – and my suggestion would be to stop buying the stuff in the cask.

I only commented that I find the wines I have tried spicy? Not a cask fan myself, but to each their own.

Anywho, glad to hear that they are doing well. Obviously I like stories of local businesses doing well.

rosscoact 4:05 pm 16 Apr 12

Well I’ve bought plenty of Canberra wines and there are examples that are as good as anything being produced anywhere in Australia.

Clonkilla Syrah and Shiraz Viogner, would be in the top 20 shiraz made in Australia, top 5 if you’re talking cool climate
Helm rieslings similar, renowned world wide for their quality and longevity and terrific bargains, about $35 for the premium
Collector Reserve is a cracker top notch reserve shiraz and a snip at $50
Nick O’Leary’s shiraz and riesling are less than $25 IIRC and great value
Lerida Pinot Grigio (or gris depending on the year)
Lark Hill Gruner Vertliner, they also make a great Pinot Noir in the right years
Eden Road, wow, these are such wonderful wines and cheap as chips. The Gundagai shiraz as the best $40 you are likely to spend and will live for a long time
Mt Majura are making some great tempranillos and if they were $10 cheaper I’d buy more
Bryan Schmidt of Maipenrai makes a wow of a Pinot Noir for $30 a bottle
Fourwinds does a stupendous off dry rose which is perfectly balanced with acid
Gundog shiraz is up there too.

That’s just a few of the wines I’ve tried and bought recently. As Pajs said, they are not mass production wines (with all the flavour enhancement that goes with it to make them taste big and fruity even when they started out something else) but in the main they are great value for money cool climate wines that display their terroir.

Some out there are obviously hobby farmers but that’s the same everywhere.

madamcholet 3:38 pm 16 Apr 12

Funny that the comments should be about the quality. I was just remarking to Monsieur Cholet this week after chugging back a bottle of locally grown reisling obtained after an Easter hunt in the winery grounds that it might just be my palate, but is this locally grown stuff a bit overrated? I think maybe a bit. Nice enough, but not worth the price tag.

Since hearing about it on a recent interstate trip I have been enjoying a new and rather thrilling experience on a reverse auction wine website and am obtaining cases of wine originally priced very similarly to local drops for under $10 a bottle at auction. It’s a bit addictiove actually, and you don’t have to visit a local winery and pretend that you liked what you tasted and buy an overpriced sample because you feel you have to.

mezza76 3:38 pm 16 Apr 12

Watson said :

Frankly, I don’t get how they manage to survive here when they already sell their wine at above average prices and don’t have a particularly good reputation. I think the climate may be well suited for some white wines – though not sure as I don’t drink them. But despite me being happy drinking cheap SA wine, all of the local red wines I have tasted were very spicy – with like a nutmeggy taste. I don’t know a thing about wine making, I just like drinking the stuff, so I hope someone here may have an explanation for that.

Ok, now im annoyed. Canberra district actually has a winderful repuation and it’s growing in stature. Clonakilla has won numerous awards – not least for its Shiraz Viognier (a red one if you are not sure) – which won Wine of the Year for 3 years. Other vinyards like Lark Hill have been poineers in terms of organic winery techniques.

Price aside (which I’ll acknowledge they are not cheap), the region is sky rocketing – and my suggestion would be to stop buying the stuff in the cask.

HenryBG 3:35 pm 16 Apr 12

c_c said :

I’ll be frank, for the price you pay for an ACT region drop, you can get a far superior Victorian, Tasmanian or New Zealand cold climate variety.

Yes. You forgot to mention NSW. I’ve had some great wines from Orange, etc…, almost invariably cheaper than ACT wines, and better.

I’ll buy an ACT wine out of curiosity, but I have *never* bought a case. They are not worth the money being asked.

buzz819 3:27 pm 16 Apr 12

c_c said :

I’ll be frank, for the price you pay for an ACT region drop, you can get a far superior Victorian, Tasmanian or New Zealand cold climate variety.

I recall trying a Helm wine along side a Richmond Grove Barossa. Both around the same price, both screw tops. Only one though tasted like it had been beside a radiator for a time and that was the Canberra one. Very rare to chuck a bottle but it was too shocking to even boil off in a sauce to use up.

Hi Frank!

pajs 3:23 pm 16 Apr 12

Watson, I reckon your info might be a bit out of date. Canberra is rocketing along, reputation wise. Have a look at the majopr Australian wine guides (Halliday, Nick Stock’s book etc) and you’ll see Canberra Distrct labels picking up some top gongs and scores.

Yes, there’s still some average gear at above average prices kicking around the district. But if you think about Clonakilla, Ravensworth, Collector, Eden Road, Nick O’Leary Wines you’ve got a group of top-class producers at or near the top of the tree for what they do. In that group, you can also find some good value drinking. It’s not sub-$10 a bottle territory, which needs economies of scale, machine-picking, machine-pruning, suiting the hotter regions better than here. But have a squiz at what Eden Road are doing in their $15 a bottle ‘Seedling’ range of wines (10% off in a dozen), or Clonakilla’s Hilltops shiraz, or the Collector ‘Marked Tree’ red, or Bryan Martin’s Ravensworth range of wines.

Watson, I get the sense you don’t like spicy flavours in red wine. That’s what you are going to get from cool to cold wine regions, like Canberra. Less sugar, more natural acid, more spice (including pepper in shiraz), and medium-bodied wines that suit a heap of foods. If your preference is for big, rich, syrupy and black-fruited, higher-alcohol reds, then more power to you. That’s what much of the Australian wine industry in South Australia is geared up to provide. But it’s not the style you’ll get from cool climate regions.

As for c_c … I’ve never tasted a Helm red wine I’d pay for. Not something I’d base a sweeping judgement of a district on. Drop into Plonk and try a few bottles from the brands I’ve mentioned above, or take a run out to the wineries one weekend. Things have changed a lot in the last four years.

c_c 2:33 pm 16 Apr 12

I’ll be frank, for the price you pay for an ACT region drop, you can get a far superior Victorian, Tasmanian or New Zealand cold climate variety.

I recall trying a Helm wine along side a Richmond Grove Barossa. Both around the same price, both screw tops. Only one though tasted like it had been beside a radiator for a time and that was the Canberra one. Very rare to chuck a bottle but it was too shocking to even boil off in a sauce to use up.

Watson 2:17 pm 16 Apr 12

Frankly, I don’t get how they manage to survive here when they already sell their wine at above average prices and don’t have a particularly good reputation. I think the climate may be well suited for some white wines – though not sure as I don’t drink them. But despite me being happy drinking cheap SA wine, all of the local red wines I have tasted were very spicy – with like a nutmeggy taste. I don’t know a thing about wine making, I just like drinking the stuff, so I hope someone here may have an explanation for that.

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