The Yarra Valley Festival of the Gumboot draws to a close on the weekend of 21/22 July. We'll be marking the occasion by cooking some sausages and drinking some 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The barbeque will be on between 12 and 3 pm so come along for a free sausage. If you are wearing gumboots, so much the better.
I should add that the sausages were made by a local butcher using prime beef and our Cabernet. They taste even better than you might expect.
See you there. If you mention that you read about this barbeque on this blog, I may even be tempted to open a special bottle in your honour.
While at the cellar door yesterday, I took a video to show the other side of the vineyard property. It's such a beautiful environment, it's no wonder we try our hardest to make beautiful wines to match--we sometimes get close but a video of a wine bottle isn't very exciting.
Here it is, with apologies for any motion sickness incurred during viewing:
I also took a more normal one of the vineyard in the cool winter light
I have just returned from judging at the Cool Climate Wine Show on the Mornington Peninsula. It's a great show with a fascinating range of entries from all over the world. All entries must conform to the entry requirements based on vineyard temperature and/or altitude--so entries come from Tasmania, New Zealand, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Yarra Valley, Gippsland and a few other cool to cold places that may not even be regarded as recognised wine regions. For the first time, there were even a few Burgundies mixed amongst the Australian and New Zealand Pinot Noirs.
Here's the line-up of wines for the trophy awards. To get to this point, twelve judges had sipped and spat their way through about seven hundred wines. What you see in this picture is the best of the best--three rieslings, four chardonnays, three pinot gris, two gewurztraminers, a sauvignon blanc, two sparkling, four pinot noir, three shiraz and a cabernet. What a privilege to taste these wines.
The group of pinot noirs was extraordinary and reminded me of how much progress we have made with this variety. When I first started judging in wine shows twenty years ago, the pinot noir classes were uniformly ordinary. Some of the wines were downright bizarre. That situation has completely changed--the four wines here would challenge any wines from anywhere in the world, Burgundy included.
You may not believe me when I say that judging wine is hard work. Sometimes, it's exhausting, mentally draining and physically difficult. Think about tasting forty young chardonnays at 8.30 am!
Truth is, it's often cold at Coldstream. Even in summer and certainly in autumn, winter and spring.
That's the way we like it.
But don't get the wrong impression--we have one of the warmest vineyard sites in the Yarra, due to the north-easterly aspect and relative shelter from winds. This is one of the reasons our grapes have ripe flavours at reasonably low sugar levels. It's also the reason why our Sauvignon Blanc avoids the lawn clipping, cat pee characters so prevalent in other wines.
Pruning has just commenced in Chardonnay. It's a long, cold few months ahead for our vineyard team.
Last night, Mike Fitzpatrick hosted our new release tasting at his Collins St office. It was a warm autumn evening, the guests enjoyed the wines and I hope that Squitchy Lane gained a few new friends
We tasted the 2011 Fume Blanc, the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. We've yet to meet someone who doesn't like the Fume and I think it was the most popular wine on the night.
The Chardonnay, while still quite youthful, showed its promise. I feel it will continue to improve in the bottle and will start to really shine in six to twelve months time. It's one for the cellar.
I have written about the Cabernet before (check the older blogs). Last night, it surprised a few people who perhaps had a rather narrow view of what Yarra Valley Cabernet can be and also surprised a few people who know a lot about wine but weren't familiar with Squitchy Lane and its wonderful vineyard resource. That's why we enjoy putting on these tastings. But take my advice and stock up on this Cabernet because we didn't make a lot and the word is spreading. I think it will be a while before we see a wine of this quality again.
If you would like to join us in our next tasting, keep an eye on the website, www.squitchylane.com.au, and this blog. You could also join our wine club and/or our mailing list--see the website for details.
Well, our first gourmet sausage and wine afternoon has been and gone. It was a great day...
and everyone enjoyed the food and wine. The duck and hoisin sauce sausages accompanied by our Squitchy Lane 2010 Pinot Noir was the most popular choice but all the different suasages had their supporters.
The souvlaki lamb was a genuinely meaty sausage with great flavour and depth. Pure meat with some spicy flavourings, almost no fat and just a real mouthful of enjoyment. The 2009 Red Square blend with its spicy aromatics was a good complement.
The pork, apple and sage was a real surprise to me. Michelle had been saying how good they were but I wasn't prepared for the wonderful texture and, once again, the real meatiness of the thing.
The beef and cabernet sausage was the real deal. Meat and red wine, no unnecessary additives, simple and elegant. The low fat content meant that careful cooking was needed but the butcher tipped us off and we had no trouble.
These sausages were so far ahead of your standard sausage sizzle offering that it seems a shame to call them sausages. They were a tribute to the art of good charcuterie.
I think we will make this event a regular feature on the cellar door calendar. The butchers loved making these sausages for us and we had a great time talking with our customers and friends on the day.
Autumn in the vineyard is a wonderful time and the weather, while not truly sunny, wasn't wet or cold. Our friend below enjoyed the day too.
Don't forget the gourmet sausage barbeque on Saturday 28 April. The cellar door team will be cooking a range of tasty sausages to accompany our wines.
Pictured above is the trial run of duck and hoisin sauce sausage to pair with the 2010 Pinot Noir. It was a pretty good combination.The address is Medhurst Road, Gruyere, the time is from 12 noon until 4 pm. All welcome.See you there.
Harvest is complete and it's now possible to give some broad comments on quality and style. But first, the vineyard is looking in great condition at the moment, especially the trees as the vines have yet to fully reveal their autumn colourings.
The Cabernet Sauvignon remains on skins as we are aiming for a true Bordeaux style wine. It looks like we will press next week which will mean a maceration time of over three weeks. The tannins are long and sustained at the moment and I want them to gain just a little more depth. The overall quality is as good as I have ever seen from the vineyard. The result will be similar to the current release, 2010, in style.
The Pinot Noir is rather special. It's unusually deep in colour but vibrantly fruity also (sometimes too much colour indicates over-enthusiastic cap management during fermentation or even some vineyard issues). Famous last words but it could well be the best we have made yet.
The Merlot and Cabernet Franc are similar in style--good colour and generous fruit profiles without extraction. They are classic Yarra wines.
It's a red vintage but let's not forget the whites....the Fume Blanc is resting in barrel and needs some time to reveal itself. It won't be quite as rich as the 2010 but will have more in common with the 2011. The Chardonnay is in two parcels at the moment...the P58 clone is going through malo-lactic fermentation to add richness while the Dijon clone portion is resting on lees with occasional stirring. The blend will be a long-lived wine that needs a few years in the bottle.
All in all, it's been a great year for us.
The 2010 Squitchy Lane Cabernet Sauvignon is now available, at cellar door and in restaurants and bottle shops in Melbourne. It will soon be available in Sydney also.
As you are probably aware, we didn't release a straight Cabernet from the 2009 vintage, so this is the first since the highly succesful 2008. There is some good news--we think it's pretty good--and some bad news--there isn't much of it. The barrel selection process for this wine is ruthless and unforgiving. If a barrel isn't of the highest quality, it doesn't make the cut. Such barrels are blended into our Red Square wine where they add some backbone and authority to the Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Now, normally at this point I would write a detailed tasting note for this Cabernet. However, this time I would like to ignore that traditional approach and focus instead on a particular feature that makes this wine what it is (the tasting notes can be found on our website if you are interested).
The striking feature of this wine is its sheer drinkability. It's just about the most enjoyable wine I can recall drinking--so much so that I am not inclined to evaluate this wine in the normal terms when I drink it but rather just take a purely sensorial delight in its flavour.
I can best explain what I am driving at in this way--you open a bottle as you are cooking dinner, thinking you will have a glass and then enjoy the remainder at the table as you eat. Unfortunately, when it comes time to sit down, you find the bottle is nearly empty. The wine is so damn tasty that you haven't noticed how much you have drunk.
My wife and I have fallen for this trap a few times so now I delay opening the bottle.
This wine has harmony, balance, lightness of touch, elegance and finesse and it just TASTES GOOD.
No need for intellectual tasting notes. One word will suffice--MORE!
Visitors to Squitchy Lane often comment on the beauty of the vineyard and of the views to the Yarra Ranges beyond.
Indeed, but there is also beauty closer at hand, in the trees surrounding the cellar door.
It's hard to recall the decade of drought that we have only recently escaped. The trees have benefited from the last two years of heavy rainfall.