Saturday, August 29, 2015

Strangebird on the loose - Mourvedre

This week we have a guest post from Sue and Warren at Pyramids Road, who are enthusiastic about their Strangebird variety Mourvedre, and took a wet day off from pruning to tell us all about it. Over to Sue and Warren:

Mourvedre has many names -the French call it Mourvedre, Monastrell in Spain and Mataro in Australia. It is debatable about its origin but it is widely planted in the south of France and near to the east coast of Spain behind Alicante. In Australia, it was planted and grown as bush vines in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. These plantings have considerable age where
some vines are 80-100 years old.

In our vineyard it stands straight and tall which means it is a pleasure to work with. It grows with gusto and proves difficult at pruning time as the canes grow very thick and strong. It loves the sunshine and warm days in our summer as the tannin in the skins needs this weather to ripen. 

We love this variety as it has the potential to be used in a blended wine or as a straight varietal wine. It classically has elements of spice, earthy, dark cherry flavours with a tannin structure that gives the wine great body and length. The wine is a dense purple colour that, while delicious in its own right, is best accompanied with food. It is not for the light hearted and accompanies any hearty meat dish on winter nights by the fire. It creates interest in the cellar door and most people are intrigued and willing to sample the wine. Since our first vintage in 2005 it has created quite a following and many repeat customers keen to see how each vintage changes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Strangebird on the loose - Malbec

Malbec is grown by a few wineries on the Strangbird Trail - Ballandean Estate, Golden Grove, Bungawarra, Whisky Gully and Summit Estate.

A rich dark purple with blackberrry and violet notes, Malbec loves high elevation. In lower elevations, Malbec grapes struggle to produce the acidity they need to create great tasting and long lasting wine. High elevation areas with a wide diurnal temperature shift, typified by hot days and  cold nights,  make the grapes produce more acidity 
Jeff Harden from Bungawarra says that in his vineyard, Malbec in relatively small quantities was planted  by previous owners about 1982, for use as a blender with Cabernet Sauvignon as was traditional in France in the Bordeaux blend.  A few years ago, he realised his biggest, healthiest vines were by now  those Malbec - it clearly liked it here, so he budded some of my other vines across to Malbec (using buds from my existing Malbec to keep the clone pure).  His first 100% Malbec wine was made at last in 2012 - a huge, peppery/berry wine ideal with barbecues and game.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cycling with Jimmy Bee : CYCLING ON THE GRANITE BELT -- Day 2

Cycling with Jimmy Bee : CYCLING ON THE GRANITE BELT -- Day 2: As promised, here is the second half of 'Cycling on the Granite Belt'written by a cycling buddy of mine, Graham Kimber. Hope you en...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Strangebird on the loose - Jaquez

Jacquez is a variety or a group of varieties from the species Vitis bourquiniana, sometimes called bourquina. It is believed to have originated in the Eastern United States. As it is not in the Vitis vinifera species it is not susceptible to Phylloxera and is can be used for resistantrootstocks.

Jaquez (also known variously as Lenoir, Jacquet, Jack, Blue French, Ohio, and El Paso,is a  hybrid grape resulting from a cross of the American Vitis aestivalis species of grape with an unknown Vitis vinifera pollen donor. This hybridisation may have occurred naturally, as was the case with many of the early American grape cultivars. From its wild South Carolina parent, Lenoir carries natural resistance to the Phylloxera pest. On the Granite Belt, Ridgemill Estate grow Jaquez on their Severnlea vineyard.

The intensely coloured berries have a dark coloured juice with a distinctive flavour. Jaquez also has the distinction of being banned by France in 1935.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Strangebird on the loose - Graciano

Graciano is a Spanish red wine grape that was developed initially in Rioja where it is considered a  ‘noble’ vine.Graciano is a challenging, low-yielding variety that is often made into a Gran Reserva because of its great lasting ability. This wine is characterised by its deep red colour and strong aroma and ability to age well. Graciano thrives in warm, arid climates. Locally, it is grown by Savina Lane.'Graciano was growing here when we bought the vineyard and we are thrilled with the spicy notes and and silky mouth feel with a medium body red', says Brad from Savina Lane.

 Savina Lane Reserve Graciano 2012 won Gold at the 2014 Australian Alternative Varieties Show in Mildura Victoria. Here's what the label says:

Elegant spice notes with aromas of raspberry and plum. Intense mulberry, blackberry and vanilla flavours deliver a powerful finish backed with superfine grainy tannins.
From the Rioja region of Spain, Graciano thrives in our small vineyard at 850m on the cool border plateau of the Granite Belt. Perfect with all red meat dishes, especially venison and lamb. Serve around 18°C Alcohol: 14.2% Cellaring: 2024

Fringewine blog on-line @ has this to say about the variety:

‘Graciano is thought to be native to Rioja, where it is used to provide color and aroma to blended Rioja red wines... Typically, it makes up less than 15% of the blend when it is used at all. It can also be found in neighboring Navarra. Graciano was once very widely grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France where it was known as Morrastel (which can be confusing, as Morrastel is a Spanish synonym for Mourvedre) but it was uprooted in the late 20th century in favor of hardier, more productive varietals, especially something called Morrastel Bouchet which was a cross between Graciano and Petit Bouschet developed by Henri Bouschet. There is some grown in Australia, where it is known as Morrastel (though some of this may be Mourvedre as well), and some grown in California, where it is known as Xeres. It is thought that Portugal's Tinta Miúda may actually be Graciano.’

Are you confused yet?

Graciano is good with red meat, in particular, venison and lamb, or other stronger tasting or gamey meats. Check out an award winner at Savina Lane.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Strangebird on the loose - Durif


Durif is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. It was created at the university of Montpellier in the 1880sw by a Dr Durif who was interested in developing a grape variety resistant to downy mildew.It was introduced into Australia by Francois de Castella in 1908 and planted extensively in the Rutherglen area of Victoria. 

It was mistakenly identified in California for almost a century as Petit Syrah. It was only through DNA testing in the late 20th Century by Dr. Carole Meredith at the University of California at Davis that the mistake was discovered.

On the Granite Belt, Golden Grove produces this robust variety which is dying out in some other regions. Try it out this Christmas!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Strangebird on the loose - Cabernet franc

Cabernet Franc is a  thin-skinned red grape originally from the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions of France.  Cabernet Franc has fine tannins, spicy aromas and peppery accents, and is an ideal candidate for blending with other varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, although, more producers are starting to sell Cabernet Franc as a single varietal.

Lucas Estate and Kominos Wines both make Cabernet franc. Louise from Lucas Estate :

I don't grow Cab Franc, I now buy it from Zambelli Vineyard in Ballandean and the first time we made it as a red varietal we bought grapes from Golden Grove. I always enjoyed drinking the variety and my husband wanted us to make a Bordeaux Blend. We already were making a dry Rose from Cab Franc so knew it was available in the Granite Belt.The Cab Franc is only 20% of our Blend so I was able to make a straight varietal as well. The variety is very popular, we are currently sold out but I have wine maturing on oak so there will be another release.

Professional Friends of Wine (online @ have an interest in the family tree (or vine) of wine, and taught me a new word today: 'ampelography' . Recent studies in ampelography have determined that cabernet franc is one of the genetic parents of cabernet sauvignon (the other is sauvignon blanc). Cabernet franc was also found to be the common ancestor among other grapes of Bordeaux, including carmenère, malbec, and merlot.