The Wine Maker
Mike Garland has made our wines since our first vintage in 2004. Originally starting out on his own (Garlands Wines) he later became the chief winemaker at Mount Shadforth Contract Crush in Denmark and made wines for a variety of wine producers including Castelli Wines. Mike is now based at Rockcliffe Winery in Denmark.
In the Beginning:
Our first vintage was picked in 2004. And wow were we pleased. The Shiraz exhibited strong peppery flavours and a smooth fruitiness. The Riesling was high in acid but exhibited good character. This vintage has cellared exceptionally well and for those that wish to try a very dry vintage Riesling we still have some!
We selected Mike Garland to make this first vintage taking the grapes to Garlands Winery in Mount Barker, along with a stainless vat to help the winery cope with a growing volume. Mike is a highly respected wine maker in the Great Southern (more on Mike later).
Well after such a successful first vintage we may be excused to think all was going to be easy.. 2005 was shaping up to be a good year. The sugars and acid levels in the grapes were looking just fine. First came the Riesling. A couple of days before picking there was a heat wave. The temperatures soared to near 40 degrees Celsius. Not a problem. The grapes were picked and sent to the winery. After fermentation the Riesling was rather sweet (now we call this semi-dry). I must say Zig wasn't really pleased with this. The reason was a mystery until later Mike worked out that the glucose/ fructose in the grapes became unbalanced with extreme heat and required a few days to rebalance. Apparently the wine yeast stopped fermentation once the lesser sugar was consumed.
Now this might seem a problem if you only like dry white wine. But once again cellaring has brought out a blending of this sweetness into intense fruit flavours. This vintage Riesling is an exquisite wine and worth a try some 17 years on!
But back to the Shiraz. A few days before harvest was anticipated it rained. Not just a little but 170mm over three days. Now at the time we thought all might be lost. Little did we know that the legendary 2005 Shiraz was just beginning it's unique journey. The grapes swelled, and some burst. The grapes tasted like water. Mike advised that we let the grapes assimilate the water to juice and not pick for another couple of weeks. So two weeks after the the original harvest date, with 2 weeks of further ripening we picked a rather battered shiraz where a good 10 to 15% of the grapes had burst and been caramelised. The result? A blockbuster intense berry fruit flavour 17.9% alcohol Shiraz. A real show stopper that never ceases to create a tasting sensation at shows. We hang on to this one but will sell you one or two bottles if you twist our arm!
The 2006 vintage was a more classic vintage. Our Shiraz won a silver medal at the Sydney Royal Show and a Bronze at the Qantas Mount Barker Wine Show while the Riesling won a Bronze at the Sydney Show. Since then we have made some excellent wines with each vintage confirming the excellence of the Kendenup soils and climate for grape growing. Each vintage continues to be a mystery until it's in the bottle! And each vintage also has it's own unique characteristics as each season is different. Overall however, the cool climate characteristics dominate in the region and this also is a essential component of the success of our wines.