It is hard to believe there was a time before Covid 19 where Steve and I were fortunate enough to travel abroad (semi) regularly. With travel off the cards for the moment we find ourselves reminiscing about our most memorable experiences abroad, naturally wine and the pursuit of making exceptional wine was a large focus of our trips. Before Covid-19 upturned the world, in late 2018 Steve and I attended Millesime Bio before heading east to the Rhone Valley. Millesime Bio, is a certified organic/biodynamic wine fair held in Montpellier and is evidence of the rise of “clean” wines.
In its infancy Millesime Bio would attract a small handful of like-minded producers, now almost 30 years later it attracts hundreds, if not 1000 mostly French Organic and Biodynamic Wineries. This fair is open to wine buyers and producers from around the world. Steve and I were pleased to find our wines well received with many European winemakers curious to taste ‘Tasmanian’. We are pictured in the link below and if you are interested to know more about the rise in demand for Organic/Biodynamic wine, see the article below.
After this event we travelled east for 2 nights to the home of Syrah, the Rhone Valley. We grafted our first few rows of Syrah (Shiraz) in 2014 and were about to release the 2017 vintage (our first release) so we were interested to compare styles. Steve having first visited this region shortly after his graduation from Roseworthy in the late 1980’s. Along with inspiration and tasting Syrah from the most prestigious houses domaines, we also wanted to understand more about how the vines were pruned and the orientation of the vineyard sites.
We stayed in a little B&B at Tain-L’Hermitage that was more like a mini hotel right on the edge of the Rhone River. The river was easily as wide as the Derwent but the edges were concreted. The amount of water that flowed down the river was mind blowing and fast, carrying what I estimate at least 5 Olympic swimming pools per second. However, the river seemed strangely quiet for such a huge flow of water.
Given that it was late November, and very cold there were very few tourists around. Many of the world-renowned cellar doors were closed and the sophisticated hotel style river boats as advertised on Australian TV by Harvey World Travel, were moored for the winter.
The highlight of our visit was a walk to the top of the Hermitage hill, all the while discussing what our future vintages of Syrah might taste like and how Steve was going to go about the vinification. The most highly sort after Rhone Valley Syrah’s come from the highest slopes of the Heritage hill where the vines are mostly terraced and staked rather than trellised. The rows are very narrow and only allow for small machinery, (think domestic mower width) or for a horse to pass. After descending Hermitage Hill we visited the centre of Tain and tasted as many wines as we could.
At Granton we have a small parcel of land similar to what we saw on Hermitage Hill, that has cemented our decision to stake out some close-planted Syrah vines in the future.
Two and half years later after our wonderful trip to Southern France we are releasing our third vintage of Syrah.
The limited quantity of the 2017 vintage sold out in a matter of months and was warmly received by all who tasted. Our 2018 Syrah was equally successful earning 95 points in the most recent edition of Halliday Wine Companion. A Votre Santé with our 2019 Syrah.