In a way, Ben Ranken’s wine career has come full circle. He grew up on a vineyard in Tumbarumba, a region in New South Wales famed for the quality of its chardonnay. Recently he and his wife purchased the Wilimee Vineyard in Macedon, another cool-climate region ideal for chardonnay. In the intervening years he gained considerable vintage experience in Australia and the northern hemisphere, and since 2007 has been making wine at Galli Estate, an incredible Sunbury-based producer that also has a vineyard in Heathcote. We chatted about his winemaking journey, his many influences, and also how important the Lorenzo Galli Scholarship is for educating the wine industry on the nuances of Italian grapes that they work extensively with.
It was a distinct honour and a privilege to be named the third fellow for the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. What an incredible insight into one of the most forward-thinking initiatives in the Australian wine scene today! Here are some of the amazing experiences that came with such an honoured award, I was truly humbled. Many thanks to the AAVWS for the opportunity to attend as the 2016 Fellow, I heartily encourage everyone to consider applying for this years show!
On the second part of a series looking into the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, I look at one of the most valuable events of the week – particularly for the producer exhibitors – Talk & Taste. These seminars provide a forum for guest speakers, some of whom are on the judging panel, to discuss topics very pertinent to those working with alternative varieties in Australia. This year panels covered three areas, I took some (very amateurish) footage from the front row, here are a few talking points. Many thanks to the AAVWS for the opportunity to attend as the 2016 Fellow, and also for the use of some pictures from the Facebook page.
For the past fourteen years, Ashley Ratcliff has worked for arguably Australia’s most important family-owned wine business, Hill-Smith Family Vineyards. Over those years he worked in many different elements of the business, from viticulture to marketing, operations to running one of the wineries. More recently he has established a vineyard in the Riverland – considered one of the warm-hot irrigated regions known for large volume grape production – and has been planting more alternative varieties to show the potential for these grapes in the region, particularly for high quality fruit. He has now thrown himself 100% into Ricca Terra Farms, and even has other plans for the future.
Jane Faulkner is one of Australia’s most loved and respected wine journalists, with several decades of experience and countless tasting notes under her belt. She is also one of the most travelled wine writers, and is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian wine and alternative varieties in Australia. This is in part due to her role as chair of the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. She (finally) joined me on this episode of The Vincast to talk about her background, her insights, her thoughts on wine communication, and the direction she hopes alternative varieties head in this country.
After recording this week’s episode of The Vincast wine podcast with Mario Marson, he gave me a bottle each of his Vinea Marson Sangiovese 2010 & 2011 vintages. Here are my impressions of the wines, and be sure to listen to the episode of The Vincast with Mario here.
Mario Marson has worked in vineyards in Australia for many years, and has been a champion for high quality grapes making high quality wines. When he decided to plant his own vineyard, he chose to do so in the Victorian region of Heathcote, and he chose to plant some grape varieties that were close to his family heritage in Italy. His Vinea Marson wines were some of the first to show how high quality wines from alternative grapes could be achieved in Australia, and today are highly sought after by a market that is embracing difference.
When Brad Wehr began selling wine called Wine By Brad, using very distinctive packaging that was quite different to the more traditional style, and actually marketing it to new customers, it caused quite a stir. As far as wine goes, Margaret River is fairly conservative, in contrast to the surfing image it has. So Brad has definitely turned heads over the years, and has continued to do so more recently as he focuses on alternative varieties with Amato Vino.
I make no secret of my love for Italian wines, and also Italian grape varieties planted in Australia. For this episode of The Vincast I was very honoured and excited to talk to Kim & Tennille Chalmers who with their family have been at the forefront not only of importing Italian grape varieties for their nursery which are then made available for sale, but also for producing their own wine from fruit they grow themselves in Mildura and Heathcote. They joined me to chat about the origins of the business, how the Australian viticultural landscape and wine market has changed, and how they are educating trade, media and consumers alike of the potential many of these grapes have in Australia.
All content on this website, including text, images, audio and video, remains the sole property of the author unless otherwise acknowledged and appropriately credited. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of content without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Content may be used for reproduction provided that full and clear credit is given to James Scarcebrook and/or The Intrepid Wino with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.