Recently we have noticed hype and market visibility of ‘natural wine’ mainly through social media. Any one would think it’s a new trend. While the term ‘natural’ may be a relatively new description, the wine making process is distinctly older. Natural, like ‘raw’, ‘naked’ or ‘minimal intervention’ are terms used to describe fermented grape juices, generally free of all preservatives and synthetics both in the vineyard and in the winery but not always unfortunately.
We produce two unique natural wine styles. The first is our Pinot Noir dominate Terramadre and the second is our Amphora ‘Amber’ in colour wine. These wine styles are not widely ‘covered’ by winemakers because they are time consuming to make and require more of a conscientious effort by the winemaker especially when it comes to hygiene to prevent winemaking faults. There is a lot of chat about natural wine but in general they are not widely distributed in the Australian mainstream marketplace.
The winemaking method for our Terramadre starts with hand picking of the certified biodynamic grapes. We destem the fruit (remove the stalk) and ferment the grapes in a small vat that can hold up to 4 tonnes. The grapes ferment naturally with their own yeast (found on their skins), which is indigenous to our vineyard. The wine is foot stomped daily as this is a much gentler way of extracting flavour without unpacking too much skin phenolics. The wine is deep crimson in colour with plenty of flavours of red fruits with structure built from vibrant tannins & fruit acid. This wine is a blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah/Shiraz and 8% Malbec. Terramadre has no added sulphur; we use inert gas to prevent oxidation, whereas all our other wines have a low addition usually no more than 40% of the allowable amount. This wine is truly natural and consists of only fermented grapes.
Our skin contact Amber wine is currently a blend of 84% Chardonnay and 16% Sauvignon Blanc. It is hand picked before being de-stemmed into the Amphora for co-fermentation. The Amphora we use is a ceramic egg shaped vessel. Biodynamic philosophy says the egg shape is one of life-force and these types of vessels were often used by ancient civilisations to store liquids and grains, these vessels are not new technology but equipment that has stood the test of time. We use our Amphora to make a skin contact white wine, imparting more tannin than wine that is pressed off skins before fermentation. The vessel also allows for a larger surface area of wine to come into contact with the lees, imparting more complexity and preservation properties as well as life force through its shape. The Amphora wine spends 20 days prior to pressing in the ceramic egg, the end result being beautiful deep amber coloured, flavoursome textured wine. We have been making Amphora wine since 2013 and this style is a great match with cheese.
As a ‘grower’ winemaker we firmly believe that to produce a high quality wine our vineyards must be in optimal health, free of all synthetics and diseases. Premium grapes permit Steve to focus on the basics, ensuring the quality of the fruit is not diminished or compromised during the winemaking process.