Baptism of winemaking virgins

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Baptism Of Fire is the name given to a collection of 2013 vintage shiraz wines made from Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyard fruit by several groups of mainly young people – all winemaking virgins – as a learning experience.

Importantly, you and I can buy the wines: someone has selected the five best wines as finalists in a contest. These were made by five teams in competition with each other.

Each team was led by a noted, experienced winemaker/mentor. They were Michael Glover of Bannockburn (tastings), Matt Harrop of Shadowfax (tastings), Gilles Lapalus of Sutton Grange (tastings), Mac Forbes (tastings) and William Downie (tastings).

The aim of the exercise, steered by Melbourne-based wine people Rory Kent, Matt Skinner and Sally Humble, was to make the best possible wine with shiraz grapes from Mount Langi Ghiran (tastings), located in the Victorian Grampians.

The winemaking took place in a pop-up city winery beneath Circa restaurant at the Prince of Wales hotel, St Kilda. Each of the hand-made shirazes was given a name. ‘Mast’ by Team Harrop is described as having a eucalyptus character (I tasted this and it was pretty good, and not too gumleafy); ‘Method & Madness’ by Team Forbes, fermented in the bottle, is a slightly sparkling rosé; ‘Onwards!’ by Team Glover was fermented entirely in a ceramic egg and is a restrained style; ‘Cain & Abel’ by Team Downie was made in a terracotta amphora; ‘After Hours’ by Team Lapalus is a Grampians shiraz that resembles Beaujolais.

They’re all $30 per 500ml bottle. Available from Vintage Cellars Ultimo and Double Bay stores, and online, at www.vintagecellars.com.au.

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