For the love of Grenache, a tale of a winemaker's obsession

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In the concluding paragraphs of his biography, our winemaker, Mark Bulman writes he ‘has developed a love for Grenache that borders on obsessive’. Let me clarify this for you, there is nothing ‘bordering’ about it. On the scale of fondness to full-blown-rapturous-I-want-to-take-you-home obsession, Mark sits well and truly in the latter range. But what’s so special about Grenache? This is the Barossa Valley, isn’t it? You know, ‘Shiraz Country’. While Shiraz, and certainly the diversity of Barossa terroir and its effects on Shiraz are always key points of winemaking here, it’s Grenache that fuels a different fire for Mark. Before we get into the lovey-dovey stuff, let’s have a quick look at Grenache and how it ended up in our little Valley. The origin of Grenache is a hotly contested topic, with Spain and Italy (specifically Sardinia) battling it out for top honours. Personally, I support the Spanish claim to the throne, but that’s a blog unto itself, if you’re interested have a look at the Russian agronomist Vavilov’s ‘Studies on the Origins of Cultivated Plants” and the diversity of Grenache variants in both regions. Whatever the origin, the spread of Grenache can be attributed to trade within the Crown of Aragon. This 14th & 15th century Empire covered much of present-day Eastern Spain, South-Western France, Sardinia & across the Mediterranean as far as Greece. Here the warm and often dry climate suited the hardy Grenache vine well and plantings flourished, continuing to today where is its France’s 2nd most planted variety after Merlot. Grenache was known as Tinto Aragonés (Red of Aragon) during this time, the chosen beverage of the upper classes, something aspirational, royal, lust-worthy.

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Posted on

12/11/2015

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Sunshine personified.

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(…or vinified maybe?) Either way I struggle to find a more apt, more succinct turn of phrase to describe our offering of the sweeter variety; ‘The Last Straw’. Why sunshine?

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17/11/2014

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Rosé - the serious side of fun

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How can you be a serious winemaker when you make Rosé? Be serious about making Rosé, simple as that. Poor Rosé, it gets a bit overshadowed by its big, red brothers & lithe, white sisters in the seriousness stakes. It’s the flirtatious pink one, fun and frivolous, suffering from the middle-child syndrome of the wine world. Crafting a good Rosé takes a lot of hard work and a whole lot of heart, so this blushing beauty certainly deserves more of our serious attention. After all, who do we turn to on a hot, summer’s day? Rosé. To soothe the palate after that fiery curry? Rosé. The perfect accompaniment to that delicious, Spanish paella, Vietnamese cold rolls, Christmas turkey, spiced pork belly or Insalata caprese? Rosé. Looks the best on a picnic blanket? Rosé. The perfect salve for yet another endless day once the kids are (finally!) in bed? Rosé (please don’t tell me that one’s just me.) Okay, I know, enough already. I think I have made my point here, Rosé has a serious place in our hearts, but why don’t we take it seriously? Rosé in Australia is cheerfully mainstream these days, but back in 1994 it was another matter all together, yet it was in this climate that the very first Turkey Flat Rosé was produced. I can hear the question on your lips ‘But why?” Why would you create a light, fresh pink wine in a region whose lifeblood is the big, rich, blockbuster, red type? Of course, it’s just delectable, but interestingly, the conditions in which one achieves great success also favour the other just as well. The key here is Grenache.

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03/12/2013

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The cult of the dark bubbles

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Sparkling Shiraz, in some circles it’s considered something of an oddity, here in the Barossa it has formed part of an iconic tradition, with the cult following to match. Celebrations, especially those involving a sumptuous, cooked breakfast just aren’t the same without a bottle of bubbly Shiraz. Try some on Christmas morning with bacon & eggs and you’ll never look back – guaranteed! The Barossa is without a doubt Shiraz country, so it only makes sense that an enterprising winemaker would, sooner rather than later, pay homage to the Seppelts and begin making their own version of ‘Sparkling Burgundy’. By no means did the Barossa create Sparkling Shiraz, but there is no doubt that we have adopted it, taken it into our hearts as our own. It has all the festivity of sparkling white, with a deep edge that’s gutsy enough to pair well with all those smallgoods the Barossa is so famous for. What’s not to love? So, to make Sparkling Shiraz you take Shiraz and just add bubbles, right? Well, essentially, yes, but the creation of this favourite fizz is actually quite the labour of love, requiring twice as much attention as its still counterpart. Here, at Turkey Flat we look to the French for inspiration, opting for the traditional method, whereby bubbles are created by a secondary ferment rather than merely carbonating the wine. We reap the rewards of this delicate, time-consuming process by way of dramatically increased quality in complexity, mouthfeel and bead.

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05/11/2013

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Sub-regionality; when the ‘Barossa’ isn’t always ‘The Barossa’

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Ask anyone what they know about the Barossa Valley and I can guarantee 99.9% of people will mention wine, Shiraz to be specific. And when I say ‘Shiraz’ I mean the big, bold, gutsy stuff, full of tannin, jammy fruit and spice. More than once I have read a recommended wine pairing for a big, chargilled steak with red wine jus as simply ‘Barossa Shiraz’, because the Barossa is the Barossa, and all Shiraz are the same, right? Given the marketing emphasis placed on certain virtues of the Barossa and its Shiraz, such broad generalisations are understandable, but really not all that accurate. Excitingly, this generic approach to ‘The Barossa’ is evolving and more is being understood about the notion of sub-regionality and its impact on the finished wines. So, why did the Barossa Valley get the reputation for big Shiraz in the first place? Much of the acclaim for Barossa Valley wines can be attributed to the old, dry grown vines first planted by Silesian settlers in the early 1840’s (Turkey Flat’s Bethany Estate was planted in the early 1840’s with original cuttings from the Busby collection). Traditionally unirrigated the grapes ripen quickly in the hot summer, so fast that acidity often plummets before the grapes are picked. The resulting concentrated wines, full of rich chocolate and spice were distinctly different to the Syrah grown in other notable Shiraz regions such as Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and California. The unique qualities of such bold wines (somewhat similar to the stereotypical Aussie bloke) became the selling tool for Australian wines overseas, and quickly took off. This public perception has not been limited to the export market, suffusing the wider Australian market, esteemed wine writer, Jancis Robinson referring the Barossa as “Australia’s quintessential wine region’.

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Posted on

26/03/2013

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