• Making Top Tier Wines – What It Takes

    I’m often asked my thoughts on what makes a great wine ‘great’.  Reflecting, I think back to the rowdy discussions at university and the many boozy winemakers’ dinners since. Taking part in these tastings is always fun and in time you learn to filter the namedropping, personal preferences, and general bluff to formulate an idea of quality. I realised that in winemaking, to elevate a wine in quality to ‘iconic’ status is very esoteric just as it is in film or literature. For me, the challenge of recognising, enjoying (and sometimes making) a truly great wine is a result of nailing just the right combination of “Art versus Science”. It is what attracted me 25 years ago to study and become a winemaker in the first place. I think it was perfectly explained by Robert Mondavi when he said, “Making good wine is a skill, making fine wine is an art”.

    So how is it done? Firstly, we should all agree that growing beautiful grapes is the start of the journey. That relies on a great vineyard site and fluking a top vintage. Growers must know how the soil and climate will affect the fruit and how to manipulate the vines in varying conditions. Plant physiology, entomology, microbiology, and chemistry are the sciences and an integral part of making an iconic wine. And the art?? That is the personal signature of the winemaker. And each winemaker has their own idea of what they want reflected in the glass through their choices of oak, yeast, and fermentation technique. Finally, we cannot ignore that indescribable x-factor that makes a top wine. Magic.

    With that said, we are presenting you a special offer on our ‘1827’ range of red wines. I re-tasted both the 2015 Bunnamagoo ‘1827’ Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2016 Bunnamagoo ‘1827’ Shiraz for this article. These wines are the top-tier of our range. Flavour, balance, extract and style are the criteria to assess. The Shiraz remains bright violet red with no sign of development. Aromas of cherry, blackberry and dark chocolate fill the glass. The tannins are very fine and give the palate persistence. The deep red Cabernet Sauvignon retains varietal detail with blackcurrant, mocha and classic earthy Mudgee character. Rich but soft vanillin oak adds to the gentle finish. Both wines maturing in typical unhurried Mudgee fashion.

    So, while the popular cult wines may be terrific for your cellar, also seek out perhaps lesser known, iconic wines of a region, and drink them! They tell a pure story, being emblematic of the winemakers and their vineyards. Otherwise you might be missing out!

     

    by Winemaker Rob Black

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – A Team Player

    What did the Cabernet grape say to the Merlot grape? I’ll never get Bordeaux of you…

    June is here and winter is upon us once again. So, time to embrace the warmth of Cabernet Sauvignon together. One of the most noble varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon confers its qualities easily and produces wines with strikingly similar characteristics right around the world.  We have all tasted it showing a range of personalities from concentrated and extracted, through firm, to elegant and soft.

    To blend or not to blend? That conundrum is equally attributed to the fundamental deficiencies of the variety as well as the many virtues that Cabernet Sauvignon is blessed with. And the success of blending relates to the techniques a winemaker has chosen to overcome these palate pitfalls.

    The greatest duos of all time can exist independently of each other, but they shouldn’t. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are natural partners like bacon and eggs or Kermit and Miss Piggy.  Their whole value is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

    In Mudgee, classic Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium structure; a solidness with wonderful length and floral, cassis aromas with fresh acidity suitable for blending. Merlot’s sweet fruit flavours of blackberries; the earthy, chocolate, and faintly tobacco/herbal notes lend richness to a palate without adding excessive tannic weight. Shiraz has great berry fruit lift without being spicy or peppery. Lively fruit sweetness of raspberry, blueberry and fruitcake slots neatly with Cabernet’s impact of fruit at the front of the mouth and long, tannic finish.

    Bunnamagoo Cabernet Sauvignon travels on three different paths in this latest offer. Whatever your preference, these wines show that with thoughtful blending Cabernet Sauvignon can transform from elegance into burly red styles with a reliable structure for long term aging.

    So, where do you store these wines?? In the cabernet.

     

    by Winemaker Rob Black

  • Thoughts On Mudgee & Tempranillo

    Mudgee has been growing grapes for over 160 years. A mixture of backgrounds both German and Italian. Powerful words come to mind. Pioneers. Establishment. Proven. Dynasty.

    Some established winegrowing regions can be framed by a single variety. Others are a diverse collection of grapevine DNA and global winemaking ancestry harvested over successive generations. Mudgee sits happily in the latter. That quality places the region in a small but exceptional class.

    Why is it so? The Mudgee Appellation was established 40 years ago. Our esteemed winemakers at the time rightly agreed that Mudgee had a pedigree that required protection. It is a defined boundary that takes in altitudes from 450m – 1100m with no uniformity in either soils or aspect. This provides a wholly unique winegrowing region unlike any other in Australia. And it provides local producers an ability to grow both cool and warm climate varietals and wine styles.

    Avant-garde (both young and salt and pepper) winemakers have for the last 15 years in Mudgee initiated a renaissance. Replanting of new varieties and production of fresh wine styles and blends to be consumed younger have complimented the respected and tested benchmark Mudgee table and fortified wines still produced to this day.

    Perhaps, an appropriate time to introduce our 2018 Bunnamagoo Tempranillo. Planted 5 years ago, this variety will become a signature in time. Suited to the climate. Typically Mudgee with medium body and mid-palate acidity. The tannins have been tamed. Almost pinot-like cherry fruit and subtle integrated French and American oak. Equivalent to crianza Rioja. Can be served slightly chilled.

     

    by Winemaker Rob Black