Saturday, 4 June 2011

An experience worth writing about...

After a trip to Australia as part of a scholarship run by Dombeya Wines and Haskell Vineyards, in collaboration with Voyager Estate in Margaret River, Adelaide University and Kaesler Wines in the Barossa Valley, I was bitten by the travel bug.

A misty morning in Margaret River.
The rolling hills of Adelaide

Hill of Grace Vineyard at Henschke in the Barossa

This trip not only enriched my experience with wine but with food and people too.  This trip included 6 weeks as a vintage intern in Voyager Estates winery doing the things I love the most like being covered in things like lees & yeast while racking many a tank of Sauvignon blanc.  From there I spent a week talking to researchers on the Waite Campus of Adelaide University while I was hosted by legend Brian Croser in the Adelaide Hills.  The last and most eyeopening week was spent at Kaelser with Ried Bosward in the Barossa Valley where I discovered my appreciation for well designed Barossa style wines as I was immersed in the intoxicating culture of wine and food in this valley.

By experiencing an alternative approach to wine making along with a different style of wine, your horizons are broadened and the fire which fuels your enthusiasm for discovering new things, burns more intensely.  After seeing the quality of fruit that arrives at the winery for crushing and sorting at Voyager, I can appreciate why their Chardonnays are bursting with pure, elegant fruit and mouth filling acidity.  There is nothing worse than a fat,  over wooded Chardonnay that screams "poor imitation".  Now that I know how intriguing a well made Margaret River Chardonnay can be, I will forever be on the hunt for one that can rival that from our vast array of Chardonnays produced in South Africa.

Mataró or Mourvèdre is often included in blends in South Africa so when I experienced the flawlessly produced Alte Reben Mataró from Kaesler I surrendered to the assertive Barossa style.  I have a huge amount of respect for the team at Kaesler as they produce some of the best Barossa wines and are not ashamed of 16% alcohols!  Instead of apologizing for their hefty wines, they design them so well that even at that alcohol they are balanced and beautiful.  The only way to understand this style and appreciate the skill it takes to make a good example of a Barossa red is to submerge yourself in all of the wines, vines and passion that emanate from the area.

A two month trip needs more than a few paragraphs to illustrate how life changing my Australian experience was.  I will be following this up with a few more blogs about my trip so that I can get someone else to fall in love with the Australian wine and food scene but also the wine people and their approach to life.  It truly was a refreshing , life-altering time of my life.

The vintage 2011 team at Voyager