Nebbiolo, like pinot noir, has a high degree of difficulty – to use an Olympic diving analogy.
Like many of my generation (BB, that is) I’m transfixed by the recent fashion for retro wines. This is my term for wines made in old-fashioned ways, and I’m not talking of Whitehill beater crushers, hand-cranked basket presses, old oak and forked stalks, à la Rockford winery. I’m talking seriously old: clay amphorae and ceramic eggs for fermenters, white grapes fermented on their skins, reds fermented on their stalks, minimal or zero additions (such as yeast, bacteria, acid, tannin, yeast nutrients, sulfites, etc.), and sustainable viticulture – especially organic or biodynamic.
Bored with your usual diet of red wine? Well, that’s understandable when you walk into a BWS or a Liquorland (you’d have to be lost to be in Liquorland) and find yourself confronted by endless shiraz and cabernet. Where’s our sense of diversity gone? This
The Yarra Valley is arguably Australia’s most creative wine region at present, a cauldron of inventiveness and much progress is being made despite the setbacks of heat-waves, bushfire smoke, droughts and frosts and this year’s deluge. Driven by such charismatic personalities as Steve Webber (of De Bortoli), the region is pushing the boundaries of the envelope with chardonnay, pinot noir and other varieties. One of the new catch-cries is stalks. Stalks in pinot noir and shiraz, principally. Other cool-climate winemakers have been experimenting with stalks too, such as Alex McKay (of Collector Wines) and others in the Canberra region, but in the Yarra, the ‘stalk dorks’ seem to be taking over. The chief proponents are Dave Bicknell of Oakridge, Bill Downie (William Downie), Luke Lambert, Gary Mills (Jamsheed), Rory Lane (The Story) and Webber. The pioneer of big-time stalk usage was Gary Farr of By Farr and previously of Bannockburn. He and his son Nick (Farr Rising) still probe the limits with stalks and are making what I think are wonderful pinot noirs this way. Back at Bannockburn, Michael Glover continues the stalk mania.