WONDER: Meet our new 2022 grape varieties.
New year, new young little things growing in our vineyard.
We’ve got three grape vine babies this year. Three varieties were grafted a few years ago, and now they’re big enough to hopefully, fingers crossed, produce enough fruit for us to play with this vintage.
So let's meet them!
Fiano’s home is in a v. idyllic warm and coastal part of Italy called Campania, where it’s predominately grown in the Avellino hinterlands. It’s a pretty beautiful place to grow if you were a grape – ocean views, long, hot ripening season and cooling afternoon sea breezes carrying the ever-present smell of passata up into the vineyard. Yum.
It’s a white varietal that was likely grown by the ancient Romans for a drink they called Apanium (meaning “bees” in Latin), as bees LOVE the high sugar content in ripening Fiano grapes. Over time it’s gone in and out of fashion because it’s a relatively low yielding crop with small, thick-skinned grapes. However, it’s super drought tolerant and the grapes retain high natural acidity, which means it can be left to fully ripen, producing big-time flavour and bright aromatics without losing freshness. On the style spectrum it’s probably somewhere close to viognier or semillon, throwing out flavours like lemon zest, grapefruit, peach, apricot and some honeyed characters – so as they say, good things in life come in small packages. Our head winemaker’s (Matt Purbrick) fave white varietal is Fiano (equal with Malvasia) so he can’t wait to get his hands on some. This love affair Matt’s got with Fiano may also be because he’s half-Italian, so this wine for him feels, well, very him.
– Our '22 Fiano.
Generally, Australia is considered Fiano’s second home, but it hasn’t been around that long here. The first commercial Fiano release was in 2005 by Coriole in Maclaren Vale, SA, and was initially planted (like many Italian varieties) due to the similarity in climates between southern Italy and southern Australia (and because it tastes like you’re eating a handful of juicy stone fruit on an Italian beach, which = delicious right?). Since then, Fiano has exploded across Australia (not literally). In the early 00’s there wasn’t really a widely produced or popular Italian white grown in Australia, and so when Fiano came onto the scene it quickly dug its roots in deep (literally). Early Australian releases tended to accentuate its naturally banging aromatics, but more recently we’re seeing people experiment with early/late picking or skin contact to push the fruit complexity, texture or thundercracking acidity. Our approach will be aiming to pick right on the knife edge between riper and under-ripe (the goldilocks zone) and ferment on full skins for a big and very fun orange-style wine.
Regardless, it’s a variety that’s got variety; Fiano tends to evoke site-specific flavours (terroir) and so they all tend to taste notably different from vineyard to vineyard. Can’t wait to see what it’s got to show us!
– '22 Fiano.
– Also known as Garnacha or Cannonau.
As a start, there’s some pretty interesting Aussie wine history linked to Grenache. Back in the 1830’s the very first cuttings of vines for winemaking came to Australia from Spain and France. Brought over by a young guy called James Busby (who’s now known as the “father of Australian wine”), just over 350 cuttings survived. In the moss-filled postal boxes he sent over were some Grenache, which was thought to have originated from either Spain or France (grenache is a French word for the Spanish “garnacha”). It is now thought that its history goes even further back to the island of Sardinia in Italy and the jury is still out whether the Spanish took it from the island, or the island received it from the Spanish occupiers. Either way, it is still a massively favoured grape in Sardinia (where our winemaker Matt has been living, on-and-off, for the past few years) where it’s usually picked fully (read: over) ripe, and fermented into crazy high-alcohol cuvees with the local varietal name Cannonau (‘hits you like a cannon’). Bang.
– '22 Grenache.
So, James Busby brings some Grenache over to Aus and it’s quickly planted in the Sydney botanical gardens. Then, quite soon after it arrives, it makes its way down to some vineyards in SA. This makes it one of the earliest vines planted in Aus, and by the 1860’s it was considered one of the most popular varieties in Australia. Back then, and up until around the 1960’s, fortified wine was all the rage and Grenache was number one for fortified. Once tastes changed to more still table wines, Grenache fell out of favour in Australia, but now it’s coming back in a big way.
Interestingly, Grenache does well when grown without a trellis, preferring to grow as a bush vine. Most of the Grenache in the Barossa grows like this as the vines largely take care of themselves (there are Grenache vines in the Barossa over 160 years old – some of the oldest in the world). It does well in the heat given its Mediterranean heritage and is usually fruit-forward (ripe red fruits like raspberry, plum and cherry), low tannin and floral/perfumed. Initially going out of fashion in the 1970’s in Australia, as the heavier styles like Shiraz took over, Grenache is starting to have a bit of a comeback as tastes start to shift towards lighter-style reds like Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. It’s also one of the best dance partners; it’s an integral part of the legendary SA three-way combo called “GSM” (Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro) and the super famous French Rhône blend, which must contain at least 50% Grenache. Blended or straight up, Grenache brings some serious fruit bomb vibes without the blow-your-head-off tannin. We’ll be making it in a very similar style to the way we make our Sangiovese; a very Italian-influenced light red flavour bomb.
– '22 Grenache.
– Also known as Mourvedre or Monastrell.
Mataro has quite the backstory, especially in relation to what it’s called. It’s known as different things around the world, which obviously isn’t at all uncommon, but in this case has led to some pretty crazy confusion, especially in Australia. Known as Monastrell in Spain, where it is likely to have originated, the grape arrived in France around the Middle Ages where it was called Mourvèdre (likely a French word for the Spanish town Murvedio).
– '22 Mataro.
Fast-forward to the mid 1800’s and Europe had lost most of their vines to the horrific phylloxera plague. Around this time Mourvèdre was brought over to Australia and the US, only it was called Mataro for some reason, named after a town in Barcelona (a name that persists still in Portugal). Mataro kind of flew under the radar in Australia, unable to live up to the hype around other popular French imports like Cabernet Sauvignon because we were unaware that Mataro (which was considered unsophisticated) was Mourvèdre (which was super well loved). What’s crazy is that it wasn’t until the 1990’s, more than 100 years after it came to Australia, that people realised Mataro was actually Mourvèdre! Classic mix-up. Now, the oldest un-grafted Mataro vines are in the Barossa (planted in 1853, they’re 170 years old). PSA: We’ll be calling it Mataro.
Mataro, stylistically, is quite similar to a heavier-style red like Cabernet Sauvignon and has the ability to produce high tannin wines that can be quite earthy, dark, deep and meaty. Like Grenache it’s a fantastic blending partner, bringing some great depth, body and oomph to the table. However, it’s not uncommon to find Mataro rosés that are quite complex yet delicate given it produces quite pronounced floral aromatics. It’s a late-ripening variety that loves a long and hot Summer and produces a wonderfully deep purple colour. The fullest in tannin and body of our three new graftings, this wine brings some seriously diverse flavour profiles (cacao, plum, blackberry, liquorice, truffle, herbs, hay). Again, another new variety that loves warm/dry climates and should do well in our hot hot Summers. We’ll be making a no-contact rosé with our Mataro that should look like a white (“blanc de noir”) and then we’ll pick some not too late to make a red, aiming for something light.
– '22 Mataro.