After visiting 20 wineries, meeting many more winemakers and tasting countless wines in Western Australia’s Margaret River in late November, I flew to South Australia for a second, even more hectic week of visits and tastings on my whistlestop ‘Decanter Down Under’ tour. In the Clare Valley, I was lucky enough to secure a visit to Wendouree Cellars, run by Tony Brady and his wife Lita since 1974.
The Bradys are wonderfully lo-fi. There is no website or email, or any sales, marketing or distributor to contact. There is not even a cellar door to drive up to. You have to make a (rarely secured) appointment by phone or letter. Tony keeps paper records of his loyal customers and posts an annual mail order form. Snail mail is also how you get on and reply to the allocation list, unsurprisingly oversubscribed. Six bottles per person, maximum.
Tony took me on a tour of the low-yielding, dry-grown vineyards dating to 1892, planted by Wendouree’s founder Alfred Percy Birks, and then of the ultra-traditional winery and cellar. Tony only makes reds: honest, terroir-expressive varietals and blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Mataro and Malbec. He opened a 2009 Cabernet-Malbec, the first year under screwcap, as it ‘might be interesting’ for me (Tony doesn’t drink). Silky and fluid, with whispers of liquorice, fruitcake, pencil shavings, cedar and potpourri, yet still with juicy purple berries to the fore. Bucket-list tick.
Terrasses du Larzac: Harnessing technology and tourism
Terrasses du Larzac in southern France has developed a new web application to aid wine tourism in the region. It’s slick and user friendly, in French and English, and packed full of in-depth information: walking and driving routes themed around rocks and landscapes or vines and biodiversity; podcasts; interviews with winemakers; and maps showing wine merchants, restaurants, bars and domaines. After wine tourism was forced to reinvent itself during the pandemic, this innovative approach is evidence of the sector reemerging and diversifying in a post-Covid world, giving tourists independence and the tools to create their own unique experiences.
No stranger to a wine holiday, I’d certainly use this to plan visits, treks and learn useful info. What this means for local wine guides or even perhaps traditional wine media is more uncertain… During the region’s fe?te des vendanges (harvest festival) last October, I tested the app and tasted an array of wines from this dynamic appellation. Domaine du Pas de L’Escalette’s Les Clapas 2020 (2016, £22.99 Carrington Wines) stood out for its plush fruit, mineral core and refined tannins, while Mas D’Amile’s Le Petitou 2020 (2018, £16.80 ddwine.uk) caught my eye for its lifted red fruit aromas and succulent acidity.
Chenin & Steen: A cross-continental celebration
Last year will not go down in history as a year of prosperity and joy: inflation exploded, wars broke out, and then there was politics… best not to talk about that. Through it all, the wine sector remained an example of cooperation and dialogue, as shown in a brilliant tasting, hosted last December by Loire Valley Wines, in which the French organisation presented some of its best expressions of Chenin Blanc alongside flagship South African counterparts. The event was not a Chenin vs Steen duel (Steen is how Chenin is known in South Africa). It was, rather, a celebration of both – highlighting how the variety has found a second home far from its birthplace in the Loire and remains true to its identity across terroirs and styles.
The event was a feast of creativity, character and winemaking excellence and included iconic bottles from top names. From Cha?teau de Plaisance’s Ronceray Anjou (£24.95 Lea & Sandeman), to Mullineux’s Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin (£15.75 Hic), by way of Nicolas Joly’s Les Vieux…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/editors-picks-february-2023-495908/