Well, it’s just past half time. I had meant to post this before July ended, but now it’s August and it’s really nearly 3/4 time. Heigh ho.
Winter in Willunga equals rain, wind, cold weather and pruning and that’s been the order of service here for the last 2 months or so. Pruning is the time when you can influence and determine crop size (and quality) of your grapes for the upcoming season, and so it’s a crucial activity in the vineyard. You can see the Hill Shiraz which is just below the cellar door, neat and tidy after its winter trim. Timing is also important for pruning; we tend to prune the Orchard Chardonnay later to try and encourage it to flower and hence ripen later to minimise starling attacks!
We’ve just released the newest incarnation of the Battle of Bosworth Shiraz, the 2012 vintage. This marks the twelfth version of this wine, and by all accounts it is drinking beautifully. It just got a 95 point score from Halliday, as well as a great write up. This wine is now available to order….
Our Puritan Shiraz 2014 has also been in the honours list, getting a place in Tony Love’s Top 100 Wines in the light red section. This is our 5th release of Puritan, our version of a Spanish ‘Joven’ style wine, which is fresh vibrant and eminently drinkable when young. You can see a satisfied Puritan mail order customer, Sean from near Byron Bay showing off his prizes! Well done Sean, you’ve snagged a couple of beauties there. Olé!
More on the wine front news, as we prepare to release another wine under the Spring Seed label, the ‘Cockscomb’ Cabernet Sauvignon. More lovely labels! This wine will be ready once it has calmed down from the rigours of bottling.
We had a visit from Matt Skinner and a band of wine lovers during the June Sea and Vines festival. Matt was Jamie Oliver’s wine man in London for the Fifteen group of restaurants, before heading back to Oz to oversee the Australian Fifteens as well as other wine business. Nairn and Emma looked after the group, which was great given the bus driver forgot to come up the winery drive way and everyone had to walk up our cellar door drive. The trees are a little bit too much for a bus….that’s Matt with sneakers on to the right of the lady with the pale scarf.
News on the dog front is mixed; Connie has settled into the life as a vignerons dog, but maybe a little too much. We are currently 2 ½ chooks down. We found a dead chook on the slate path near the house and gave our new hound the benefit of the doubt, but in the 2nd instance, there could be no doubt. Connie’s mouth became attached to the neck of old Brown, and could not be dislodged. Joch managed eventually to persuade her to let go, and the poor creature ran into the bushes. A couple of minutes later though Oscar dobbed on Connie (Woof, Woof, what is it Oscar? Connie’s got the chicken and is killing it) . Oh. Connie was also found playing with another chook a couple of days ago, but Peggy managed to prevent a massacre. We’re onto you Madame la Saussicon…..
We had a terrific group of restaurateurs and retailers from Queensland for our annual Meet Your Maker 2 day familiarisation back in July. The weather was amazing for the final long lunch up at the Hickinbotham Vineyard just outside Clarendon. That’s me in the back far left corner, keeping out of trouble….
We hosted some Japanese sommeliers back in May and they had a rather windswept tasting at the magnificent Star of Greece café and restaurant down at Port Willunga. Japan is a new-ish market for us but with Shunji at the helm over in Osaka, one that is developing very nicely. You can also see Kevin o’Brien in there, from Kangarilla Road as well as Zar Brook’s cheeky face – and look, there’s Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins, too. (right of Bozzie)
We have a couple of new members of staff up here at cellar door. Erin Stacey is very well-known in the Vale, as she has worked for many wineries in many capacities. She is equally at home in the cellar as cellar door, and also has spent quite a few snow seasons up in Mt. Buller. Welcome Erin! She has a new-ish offsider, young Eddie the standard poodle, who bears an alarming similarity to our big brown curly friend. In fact, Oscar has taken Eddie under his wing, and is showing him the ropes. God help us all. Here’s a shot of Erin and the much younger Eddie – he’s grown massively since this shot was taken.
And still on the staff front, IAN IS BACK (for those of you who were fans of the UK TV show The Bill, you can say that in the manner of BEACH IS BACK. Remember the terrible spin off which featured the dodgy copper Don Beach?) But I digress. Ian has been on sick leave since the end of vintage with a bung hoof. This required some surgery and some time in a bath chair recuperating. His foot has come good now and it’s time to trot him out to check for soundness by doing a few hours in cellar door. Welcome back Ian. PS there really are too many great photos of Ian in my media library but this one is my absolute favourite – the Ian Adam body cooling system.
Tassie update: for those of you from the Apple Isle, we now have official wine distribution there, which is exciting. Joe Holyman is a bit of a wine industry legend, making wine under his own Stony Rise and Holyman labels, as well as also having played first class cricket for his state. I’m not a cricket fanatic by any stretch, but I gather this is a pretty good achievement. Tasmania is a small market but it’s nice to have a reason to finally go and visit it. In fact, Joch Bosworth is heading south for a visit with fellow McLaren Vale vigneron and winemaker, Mr. Toby Bekkers, who makes a Shiraz and Grenache under his eponymous label. I am hoping that Toby may be able to keep Bozzie under some kind of reasonable control when on tour. There may be a slim chance that as well as working, they will have a go at some fly fishing. I wonder if I will ever get to know the actual breakdown % wise of time spent working and time spent fishing…
And now for something completely different. I took the young Bosworths back to the land of their mother’s birth for a large clan gathering in London, and visited a few scenes of my callow youth which may or may not be of interest to you. From the age of 11 to 16 , I had to attend chapel at the Minster – basically a Cathedral in all but name – as a student of the Southwell Minster School. At the time I considered this a monstrous imposition on my valuable time, but re-visiting this amazing building with one’s kids put it all into perspective. The kids were reasonably impressed with it too. It has the remnants of some tiles of the Saxon church which stood there before the Minster. Wow!
I attempted to add an educational angle to the trip, so visited the best preserved Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall, Housesteads, while in Northumbria to see the other side of the family. It’s been here for over 2000 years I enthused. As you can see they were immensely impressed. I think their most cherished historical discovery was a postcard with scenes of a communal Roman dunny which they sent to Joch. More work to be done there.
We also visited the scene of crimes committed almost 30 odd years ago, the Saracen’s Head Hotel in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. This was one of the venues of my early pub going Malibu and pineapple tippling adventures. You’d get sent to jail for drinking that stuff now. There has been a pub or coaching inn on the site since the 1500’s and it has had many famous guests, including Dickens and Lord Byron. Its most famous guest was probably Charles I of England who spent his last night of freedom there before surrendering to the Scottish commissioners (whom he had dined with the night before). This was followed up next day with a trip to London and then execution. Not for us, but for Chuck, of course. Ouch.
We went to the land of Harry Potter too, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, home of the Percy family who celebrate their 700th year there this year. Now that’s a dynasty. The girls learned how to ride broomsticks while I swooned over the Percy family’s private collection of Renaissance art (Cannalettos, Titians, van Dykes….) and wondered if I could sneak any out under my fleece.
Then back to Willunga to dust off the old Isuzu truck ready for the annual Almond Blossom Parade. The Gaffney Road Gaggle had a a good old time rocking through the town although Joch was a little jerky on the brakes… I think we had 12 kids in a stock crate, 6 adults, some straw bales and Oscar and Connie the doggies. Ripper!
And in full sail. (Thanks to Sabine at Timescape Photography) What a terrific day!
That about sums it all up, so until next time, cheers!