Exciting times for the New Era brand for vintage 2020 after a very difficult start, with some new varietals being sourced and some top quality wines being produced. Given the destruction of our winemaking facilities and the vineyard we were unsure as to whether there would even be a 2020 vintage to talk about. But the overwhelming community and industry support provided the incentive for us to continue production of wines for the New Era Vineyard’s brand – albeit from fruit sourced from growers throughout the region and the South East of SA. These grapes are being processed at Lodestone Winery this year following a kind offer by the owner, Michael Sykes, to process fruit for us free of charge.
The next challenge was to find some top-quality fruit; not only did the fires knock out a third of the Adelaide Hills grape vines, but the crop levels were also extremely small due to cold and wet weather at flowering in September. This led us to look for fruit across the state in an attempt to meet our aspirations for rose, red and white varietal options. We were successful in sourcing fruit from multiple vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and near Mundulla in the South East. Along with varietals produced in previous years (Sangiovese and Touriga) we are this year committing to some new exciting varieties for the New Era brand, including, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Dolcetto and Montepulciano.
Pinot Gris/Grigio: Is a wine that is often misunderstood for a number of reasons; namely that it can produce both a white and light red wine (but more commonly white table wine) and has fruit that is coloured an unusual greyish-blue colour. To further complicate the story these grapes are made into two distinct styles. The French Pinot Gris tends to be richer and fuller wine which can be slightly off dry whilst the grapes for the northern Italian Pinot Grigio style are picked earlier and the wines tend to be a crisp austere style that is slightly dryer. Our Pinot Gris grapes are sourced from the Wirrega vineyard outside Mundulla in the South East of the state.
Gruner Ventliner: A food friendly white wine that is widely planted in Austria with other small plantings in Hungary and the Czech Republic. It is a variety that is increasing in popularity across Australia. Gruner Veltliner has found a home in the cool climate of the Adelaide Hills with over 30 different Gruner Veltliner labels produced in the region. Gruner Veltliner origins date back to Roman times and it was confirmed in 2007 that it is a natural crossing of Savagnin and St. Georgener-Rebe a native Austrian variety. Another interesting outcome of this study was confirmation that it is a half sibling of Pinot Noir. Our Gruner Veltliner grapes were handpicked and fermented wild in a combination of stainless steel and old French oak and will be aged on lees for approximately six months.
Dolcetto: Dolcetto originates in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy and is known for its light, soft, fruit-driven wines. Dolcetto literally translates in English to “little sweet one” and is perfect when picked early for a bright fruit and spice driven Rose. This wine has just finished fermenting and is looking excellent. The grapes for this are sourced from a cool climate vineyard outside Mundulla in the South East of the state.
Montepulciano: This central Italian variety originating in Tuscany produces a densely coloured wine, is late in ripening and tannic in structure. It is the second largest grape variety in Italy. Montepulciano wines display various berry fruit characters while also exhibiting complex gamey characters. Dad was very impressed with the colour and characters of this wine in the fermenter before inoculation (he commented that this was going to produce a stunning wine given the characters on display even before fermentation). Crop levels were over 50% down on expectations and we only received 1.5 tonnes instead of the 3 tonnes that we had been promised. These crop levels are what has contributed to some serious intensity of fruit weight and colour. Also sourced from the vineyard at Mundulla.
Sangiovese: Generally known as the workhorse of Tuscany wines with a name derived from the Latin: Sanguis Jovis “the blood of Jupiter”. This variety dates back to the Etruscan civilization that ruled Tuscany and other regions in central Italy prior to Roman times. These grapes were sourced from Springhill vineyard just out of Macclesfield in the Southern Hills. We have been sourcing grapes from this vineyard for a number of years as a top-up for our New Era fruit and the combination has created some superb wines over the years. The 2018 vintage (our current selling vintage) was a Gold Medal winner at the 2019 Adelaide Hills Wine Show and runner up in the Trophy taste off.
Touriga Nacional:Touriga is a native grape variety from Portugal and has a long history of both table and fortified wine production. These grapes are sourced from Old Mill Estates in Langhorne Creek and they produce excellent fruit year on year (it is now in big demand from producers such as SC Pannell, etc). I have been making Touriga since 2015 and I am so glad that I chose to champion this variety, as it is so satisfying to assess each vintage and plan out the strategy to best express the varietal characters present in each of the batches. The amazing array of characters – the dense, vibrant colour, the unique and complex array of aromas, the tannic structure and the dichotomy of aroma versus palate that this variety offers makes it a joy to work with. For the past two vintages we have been making a small portion of these grapes into a vintage port and these parcels will continue maturing in older French Oak for approximately 2 years.
In wrapping up I would like to say a special thank you too:
1. Michael Sykes, Jackson, Warick and the other talented wine makers at Lodstone winery for leting me use your winery and boss you around a bit too.
2. Peter, Mark and Dino at Longview Vineyard for their extremely generous offer of 2 tonne of Gruner Ventliner handpicked at no charge.
3. Anita Goodes from Wangolina Station for her time, effort and contacts in helping to source the Pinot Gris, Dolcetto and Montepulciano.