AN ASSEMBLAGE OF FRUIT GROWN TO SEVERAL ELITE CENTRAL OTAGO SITES, the estate flagship barrel selection, from the Sam Neill family vineyards, normally a selection picked off Gibbston First Paddock, Bannockburn's Fusilier and Earnscleugh's Red Bank. A charming effort in Burgundian styling, unequivocally world class, artisanally crafted Central Otago Pinot Noir. Each block and clone are picked and fermented separately, the final wine is assembled just before bottling. Small batch? You bet, a mere few hundred dozen are made each year.
VASSE FELIX WERE BRIEFED IN THE 1970S BY DR TOM CULLITY, Margaret River's founding vigneron, to make the best possible wine. Tom Cullity is the Margaret River flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, the articulation of several decades viticulture at Vasse Felix. Balance, elegance, complexity and restrained power are the hallmarks, the direct result of an uncompromising approach to quality. Among the first estate plantings were Cabernet and Malbec,Tom Cullity is crafted from the fruit of these eminent old vines, the ultimate elocution of Margaret River Cabernet.
PONDALOWIE WAS ESTABLISHED WITH PARTICULAR WINES AND STYLES IN MIND. Pondalowie have taken an impressive number of international awards, cementing their reputation as a leading producer, highlighting the strength of Bendigo as an elite provenance of world class Shiraz. A profound construct of Bendigo Shiraz, rich and complex with lovely integration between intense dark fruit flavours and fine, ideally suited to juicy meats, trimmed by caramelised onion and dressed in red wine jus
THERE ARE THREE BLOCKS OF SAUVIGNON BLANC AT AMISFIELD, near the shores of Lake Dunstan in Central Otago. Older vines at the edge of Rocky Knoll yield fruit with delicious ripe stone fruit characters and pronounced minerality. Younger plantings on a beautiful elevated terrace above the winery provide grapes which are brim full of vim and vigor. A combination of wild indigenous yeast vinifications, oak barrel ferments and sedimentery lees stirring, achieves a singularly vigorous and compelling case for Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc.
The Laira Vineyard
was established in 1893 on the Coonawarraâ€™s famous terra rossa heartland
Brands Laira is today widely regarded as one of the regionâ€™s best plantings of Shiraz. With Shiraz being the only wine grape planted in Coonawarra from 1900 to 1950, the variety has played an important role in establishing Coonawarraâ€™s international reputation as Australiaâ€™s pre-eminent red wine region.
Eric and Nancy Brand purchased the Laira Vineyard and adjoining property in 1946; and over the next decade extended the vineyard to 23 hectares of vines. The first wine sold under the Laira label was released in 1966. Fruit from this century-old Original Vineyard is still used today in the production of the Brandâ€™s of Coonawarra Stentifordâ€™s Reserve and Patronâ€™s Reserve.
McWilliamâ€™s Wines purchased a 50 per cent share of the Brandâ€™s Estate in 1990 and the remaining 50 per cent in 1994, with Eric and Nancyâ€™s sons Jim and Bill Brand retained as winemakers. McWilliamâ€™s Wines is today one of the largest landholders in Coonawarra, with almost 300 hectares of mainly cabernet sauvignon and shiraz vines. In recent years the company has extended the Estate to include the 165 hectare Station Block and 100 hectare Kirkgate vineyards.
Passing Clouds is
a small hands on operation using traditional winemaking techniques, sheltered by hills of ironbark forest, an ideal growing climate for premium red wine
The story begins in 1973 when Graeme Leith and Sue Mackinnon great friends and partners decided that they wanted even more challenges in life than were possible for them in their careers as electrical contractor and journalist; Graeme was the electrical contractor. They wanted to brave the elements, face the challenges of the land, and like so many before them pursue the holy grail of the best wine in the world.
Working on the principle that enthusiasm triumphs over professionalism, the first vines were planted at Kingower by Sue Mackinnon, Graeme Leith, Anne and David Brown (who then wisely took up cheese making) in November 1973 by the headlights of the van from which they had driven from Melbourne after work. They didnâ€™t want it to be dependent on pesticides or insecticides so they chose a site in a dry area north west of Bendigo on old gold diggings, where the soil had been dug over a hundred and twenty years before by goldminers.
They laid out the wires, measured the distance between the vines, dug the holes with shovels and planted 150 vines, initially shiraz and cabernet sauvignon to make a classic Aussie blend. There were also riesling vines planted, that Tom Lazar had left over from his last plantings at Virgin Hills, and which he had kindly donated. They then had some supper and drove back to Melbourne. They were younger, then.
After several years of nurturing their plantings, they experienced the first real Passing Clouds vintage, and released their inaugural wine. They were successful, and the first wine they showed at the Melbourne Wine Show, the 1982 shiraz cabernet won gold. Since then the vineyards produce has won numerous medals for magnificent wines, presently including not only the predominant Graemeâ€™s Blend shiraz cabernet, but The Angel, a cabernet sauvignon merlot cab franc, some spectacular shirazes, and over the last few years the pinot noir made from Coldstream grapes.
White wines are made too, but Passing Clouds is famous for its reds, reds of great character, individuality and superb quality. As one wine writer said "I have a lot of sample bottles on my table at the end of the day, but whenever thereâ€™s Passing Clouds, itâ€™s the one we drink with dinner!"
The first Passing Clouds, a glorious concentrated red had too little chemical input, no sulphur was added as a preservative and the wine had a very short life span. From then on all wines have had minimal sulphur additions to keep them alive and well, as Winemaker Graeme Leith accepted that the Romans had it right two thousand years ago when they burned sulphur in their amphorae. Unirrigated, ripe fruit, traditional methods of hand plunging in small fermenters and hand presses cranking down the cake late into the night was the formula for the next twenty years and many superb wines were produced.
Brookland Valley estate
wines are grown on the sunny ridge of an ancient landform through which a small brook known as the Wilyabrup flows to the nearby sea
The spectacular valley, set against a gently undulating landscape, offers protection from the winds and warmth for the vines, a perfect viticultural microclimate. Vineyard management, built on principles of sustainability and incorporating agricultural craft that relies on a respect for the soil and the environment, rewards Brookland Valley with wines of quality and elegance.
But, there is more to Brookland Valley than its estate. It also controls 150ha of smaller vineyards that are dotted throughout the 120km length of the Margaret River wine region. These vines, also grown under the Brookland Valley principles of sustainability and respect, allow Brookland Valley winemakers to choose from a sheet of regional flavours to produce the symphony known as the Verse1 wines.
The Brookland Valley story begins in 1983 when the Jones family, seeking a return to life in the country, inspected a pioneering dairy property at Willyabrup. The family's plans to become cheese makers were quickly diverted into wine making after they witnessed the growth of the fledgling Margaret River wine region that was in those days starting to make its presence known on the world stage. In 1984 Malcolm engaged the services of two Eastern States vineyard consultants, Brian Crozer and Tony Jordan, to assist with the planning and planting of the vineyard.
Malcolm has learnt to combine his historical scientific data with visual observation to read the health of the soil and the vines
Establishing the vines was a family affair, with Quentin very much involved in the establishment of the vineyard alongside Malcolm. In 1997 Australia's second biggest wine company BRL Hardy, was seeking a boutique Margaret River winery producing premium wines to add to its portfolio. It was agreed with the proviso that Malcolm and Dee continue to operate the business ensuring continuity of the commitment to quality and excellence that has always driven them.
Since Brookland Valley lead the way in the mid-1980s with a technology-driven approach to viticulture, things have changed dramatically. The winemakers dig holes to check water levels rather than relying on electronic moisture meters, walking hundreds of kilometres inspecting individual vines, shoot thinning, reducing foliage and tasting the ripening fruit. Vines and the soil in which they grow are regarded as the most treasured possession and are treated with respect.
The Brookland Valley Estate vineyard is close-planted and flows down the valley from the sun-denched north-facing slopes to the more gentle flats along the banks of the Willyabrup Brook. Spur pruning was adopted some time ago and in essence it is treating the vines like irrigation systems with the trunk being the main pipe that divides into two. From these two branches the annual pruning ensures that 26 shoots will develop into fruiting canes.
The history of
Bollinger is that of a family in the Champagne region of France over the centuries.
The original winemakers -Hennequins- were landowners in Cramant as of 1585 in Cuis and Ay. In 1829, Athanase Hennequin de Villermont became partners with Paul Renaudin and Jacques Bollinger to found the Maison Bollinger in Ay.
Bollinger, unlike it's thriving market oriented competitive Champagne Houses, has continued to produce rich, full-flavored wines that reflects tradition.
Bollinger owns one of the very few vineyards -Clos St. Jacques - to escape the vine disease that destroyed Europe's wineries in the 1800's.
A secial release of this wine as the 100 percent pinot noir champagne called Vieilles Vignes Fran?aises, is unique in that it can boast that it's grown on ancient French rootstock.
Bollinger's hallmark style, palate and tradition is the result of centuries of winemaking in the unique micro-climates of Champagne's chalky earth.
Before being a great Champagne, Bollinger is a great wine and the quality of the grapes is a determining factor.
The Bollinger winery enjoys miles of underground cellars which are an integral part of the authentic Champagne making process.
The House's vineyard of 160 hectares, particularly well spread out, enables the winemakers to cover more than 60% of Bollinger's needs; an exceptional situation in Champagne. The remainder is supplied by associated winegrowers. This grape supply ensures the continuity and the consistency of the Bollinger style.