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.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Strangebird on the loose - Barbera

Congratulations to Mark Ravenscroft. An article featuring Mark and Raven's Croft Wines appeared in the October-November edition of Queensland Smart Farmer.

'Most of my wines are made as natural as they can be. I use only the best quality grapes, thereby ensuring minimal use of sulphur. I also use a lot of wild yeast fermentation and do not add any powdered tannins. No animal products are used and my wines are therefore vegan friendly' Mark told Peter Scudamore-Smith.

The new Strangebird and wine trail map has been released at the Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show, so the Information Centre staff have been finding out a bit about some of the alternative varieties. 
Alternative varieties are defined as those that represent not more than 1 % of the total bearing vines in Australia This week we asked Peter from Boireann and Sam from Golden Grove to tell us about Barbera.

'Barbera is an Italian variety from the Piedmont region. It makes a deeply coloured wine with intense flavours. It is high in natural acid but low-ish in tannin consequently it is a good match for some food that would also go with white wine. It is a great match also for Italian dishes that don’t necessarily involve meat. We decided to grow Barbera because it’s Italian and we love all things (wine and food) Italian. We also have other Italian varieties - Sangiovese and Nebbiolo' says Peter.

'I decided to plant Barbera because of its Italian origin- I was looking at Italian varieties and decided to plant this one. There were a number that I could have chosen. The performance of this variety looked impressive and I was not wrong.It has performed really well for us here at Golden Grove' says Sam.

Wine-searcher (online @ reports that Barbera-based wines were a favourite with Savoyard army officers, who considered the wine a ‘sincere companion’, which helped them maintain their courage in battle. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A visit to Twisted Gum- a blog from Amanda at Cooker and a Looker

Amanda from the blog 'Cooker and a Looker' wrapped  up her tour around Southern Queensland on the Granite Belt with a visit to Twisted Gum winery. Here's what she had to say about this local gem:

Michelle and Tim’s enthusiasm for wine is infectious.  During spring, Michelle hosts sunset walks through the three acre vineyard.  Gus the vineyard dog leads the tour, which winds through the vineyard and offers views over Girraween National ParkParched from your walk?  Tim has you covered! Finish off your tour tasting Twisted Gum’s wines accompanied by artisan cheeses on the veranda as the sun sets – and they’re not joking about the sunset – stunning!
Twisted Gum are a dry land vineyard, so a highlight for me was tasting the difference in that dry and wet years made to the produce of the same vines.  Also, give the pink moscato a try: sweet wines aren’t my thing, but theirs is a horse of a different colour. 
Photo courtesy of Amanda

 Read more of Amanda's blog here.