Against a background of ongoing oversupply in the wine industry, increasing supermarket power (over 50% of wine currently sold in major supermarket liquor chains is in-house made up labeling of cheap bulk wine), a strong A$ and a Sydney market which does not support local wines (Hunter has less than 5% of Sydney restaurant listings) I beg to take a contrarian view.
Warren Buffett the legendary investor and philanthropist has often said that the best time to buy is when few others will, or the time to be brave is when others are fearful. I think this applies to the finest Hunter wines today. The reasons for this are in no particular order.
1. Hunter Shiraz and Semillon are two unique styles on a global basis which are distinctive and recognizable. This in a world which is losing that sense of “somewhereness” in a rush to globalization.
2. Large scale industrial winemaking common in South Australia is just not possible in the soils and climate of the lower Hunter.
3. These classic varieties are planted on their own roots in the Hunter. In every other Australian region they are planted on American rootstock.
4. The best Shiraz and Semillon vineyards in the Hunter are planted with vines directly descended from the Busby plantings at Kirkton; Australia’s original winegrape vineyard.
5. These wines are well balanced food friendly wines with moderate levels of alcohol and tannin.
At Glenguin we use organic practices on vines directly descended from Busby which produce low yields of exceptional fruit. Everything is done by hand from planting to training, from pruning to picking and on into the winery where the ferments are handplunged. We produce just 1,000 to 1,500 cases in total each year with each wine only being made in small batches. We have a qualified winemaker (Rhys), viticulturist (Andrew with vineyard manager Klaus) and Australia’s 7th Master of Wine on the team and 5 Red Stars in the Wine Companion. Despite this our wines are available at a fraction of the price of similar quality and provenance from fashionable regions and producers.
Robin Tedder MW
Wine marketing reflects constantly changing fashions whether they be labelled “cool climate”, “organic”, “biodynamic” or the latest fad for so called “natural” wine. For many people marketing and sales are all about change for its own sake with the emphasis on the new new thing. Many producers seeking to differentiate themselves jump on these bandwagons in an attempt to relabel themselves as somehow better than others. On the other hand lovers of fine wine are interested in consistent quality with a history of hands on effort in vineyard and cellar that encompasses hard work and honest dealing. I know of no vigneron who willingly exposes her or his health to toxic chemicals. Where is the honesty in an Organic label where the certification allows the use of copper which is toxic and most certainly not organic ? In a new series of short blogs we will examine these “holier than thou” labels in turn starting with the simplistic and misleading term “cool climate”. Watch this space………………
every year the Tannat is first out of the blocks in a spontaneous miracle of nature called budburst……….here’s hoping for a dry healthy vintage
Cane pruning is a more costly exercise requiring great care and skill; so why do it ?
Quality improves because it reduces shading with less buds and more even spacing between each, leading to smaller canopies, looser bunches and smaller berries; all likely to lead to improvements in the finished wine. Open canopies and looser bunches reduce disease pressure and improve airflow and natural light throughout the canopy. With old wood removed trunk ailments like Eutypia, are minimised. Cane pruning also reduces strain on the vine’s vascular system by simplifying sap flow.
At Glenguin Andrew Tedder leads the viticultural team in every aspect of optimising fruit quality from clonal selection and planting, through vine training, green harvests, the essential timing for handpicking at vintage and of course the winter pruning.
The photo shows a hand cane pruned vine ; 20 year old shiraz on the Schoolhouse Block at Glenguin.
The Helibuyers at Glenguin last weekend wanted to ensure they received their allocation of the 2009 Aristea Shiraz. They even stayed awahile to help brother Andrew and Klaus cane-prune the first 4 rows.
A blog on cane versus spur pruning is coming soon.
Hard pruning this winter followed by a cover crop planted early spring (see the local Eastern Gray Kangaroos enjoying the sunshine). Vintage 2012 just weeks away and the vineyard has never been so green ! Veraison complete with both shiraz and tannat blocks.
Hello everyone and welcome to winter! While you’re rugging up against the chill, our vines are thinking about having a bit of a sleep. We’ve only had 4 mild frosts so far this winter but the vines have defoliated and are ready for prunning in July. We wrote a piece on how we manage the vineyard during frosts last year – you can find it here. And so we’ve nearly finished our one year cycle of events in the vineyard. Our blog’s one year birthday is in a couple of weeks!
Glenguin’s seven geese lost their eggs twice to a goanna this season but they made friends with five black swans who stayed for three weeks this month as the picture shows. All the bearded dragons have gone to the river for the winter and we look forward to their return in the spring.
Above is a shot Klaus took of our Schoolhouse Block and Aristea Shiraz with soils of sandstone, gravel, ironstone and petrified wood. This gravel bench is a unique site and one of the main reasons our wines taste the way they do.
Finally congratulations to Sue & John Barben from Newcastle and Stacey Magree from South Sydney who won our ‘Friends of Glenguin’ magnums last time around. If you would like to join the ‘Friends of Glenguin’ and receive news updates and very special offers then call Klaus on 02 6579 1009 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryde TAFE students visiting Glenguin
Vintage was early this year by about 3 weeks. The low tonnage and weather were the main factors with a picking date of 8th Feb 2011. In the last 6 years vintage has been getting earlier and earlier because of climate conditions which appear to be changing for the long term. Two weeks of very hot weather hit us in mid-January – 38ºC to 48ºC every day and nine days over 46ºC.
This coupled with the low tonnage of fruit on the vine made ripening come on fast. Off 5.5 acres of Shiraz we took off only approximately 3.8 tonnes, whereas from 2.5 acres of Tannat vines we harvested around 700kg. Fruit quality is very good, with good concentration of fruit alongside fresh acids.
Wine educator Jean-Claude Ferrier has been bringing students to Glenguin from Ryde TAFE twice a year for the last 7 years. He believes Glenguin has some of the best wines in the Hunter, and feels that our bio-dynamic and organic principles used in the vineyard have great value. They lead to a more natural environment for vines to grow, as no systemic chemicals are ever used.
Students are mostly sommeliers from Sydney doing one year courses of wine education. Students are taken on a vineyard tour by myself and shown the Schoolhouse and Stonybroke Shiraz blocks and Tannat block with an overview of the soils in the 3 different blocks and how the vines are pruned to get the right tonnage and good air flow. We also talk about how pests are controlled by natural means, as well as many other aspects of the life of the Glenguin vineyards.
Tastings are approximately 2 hours long for these students and a lot of notes get taken, as you can see in the photo above. This class really liked the Tannat and Schoolhouse Block wines as they illustrate the Glenguin story and a complex, interesting and challenging wines to taste. The Ancestors Semillon was also a favourite. It is considered to be a true Hunter wine with an interesting flavour profile and they loved the story of James Busby that stands behind this wine.