Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Beauty of Agronomy

At this time of the season, while wine lovers are getting ready for the holiday season, grapegrowers are busy tending their vineyards.
One of their major concerns is keeping diseases, like powdery and downy mildew at bay and also establishing and training new vineyards.

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"Behind the fruitfulness are men of understanding and knowledge,
and skill, men who experiment with seed, endlessly developing the
techniques for greater crops of plants whose roots will resist the
million enemies of the earth: the molds, the insects, the rusts, the
blights. These men work carefully and endlessly to perfect the seed,
the roots. And there are the men of chemistry who spray the trees
against pests, who sulphur the grapes, who cut out disease and rots,
mildews and sicknesses. Doctors of preventive medicine, men at the
borders who look for fruit flies, for Japanese beetle, men who
quarantine the sick trees and root them out and burn them, men of
knowledge. The men who graft the young trees, the little vines, are
the cleverest of all, for theirs is a surgeon's job, as tender and
delicate; and these men must have surgeons' hands and surgeons' hearts
to slit the bark, to place the grafts, to bind the wounds and cover
them from the air. These are great men."
 John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Surprise arrivals.

The normally sleepy gardens of the Lazy Ballerina cellar door were shaken by a surprise helicopter arrival. The boys from the Littlehampton restaurant Out of the Pan, Jeremy Matto and Alan Crawford enjoyed the high life with a quick jaunt for a wine tasting.

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It was Jeremy's birthday and partner Alan surprised him with the helicopter ride. Jeremy said he did not know where they were going when they set off on the ride and was surprised to pick out Kuitpo Forest from the air and even more surprised to land in the Lazy Ballerina gardens.
 Lazy Ballerina is twenty minutes drive south from Mt Barker but the helicopter made the trip in half the time.

Jeremy and Alan completed their adventure, taking some wine it tow with them, by returning for a party at the Nairne indian restaurant Chingari.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grape Debate '04 - Why Winemakers are Gods.

June 10, 2004

James' speech notes.

"Ladies & Gentlemen, winemakers are the gods of the industry. You know it makes sense.

I was very nervous about speaking today. I couldn't sleep last night. When I finally drifted off, I began to dream.

At the door was a messenger with a beautiful engraved invitation to a wine tasting hosted by God himself…

My company were major sponsors and I was invited.

God had deck out Chapel Hill as if it were the Sea & Vines festival to end all Sea & Vines festivals.

Tables, candles, crystal all in a giant tent.

I walked into the tent and was stunned and the music that was echoing was very familiar. Sure enough, on a giant white piano there was John Lennon playing Imagine -- just with slightly different words.

I found my way to a seat and looked around. I was sitting next to on my right Drew Noon, on my right was Steve Piombo.

Justin Lane, Phil and the garage winery crew, had a Red Heads Studio table and Micheal Fragos was half way through showing them some killer ‘04 barrel samples.

Chester was there sitting up the front chatting to Jesus about the chances of getting in some Marsanne through quarantine a bit quicker.

So there I was with Steve smiling on my left, Drew on my right, and I let my eyes wander over the other guests. There was the John Glatzer, Simon Parker, Steve Pannel, The team from Wirra.

I can only  thank my lucky stars I was invited, Thanks Bryan, but I didn't care as it was just so cool to be here and -- God's wine had to be pretty good

All of a sudden everyone scurried for their seats, and a group the apostles entered the room followed by God himself.

God stood up the front and went into a detailed very nice multimedia PowerPoint presentation of the techniques.

Half way through explaining the distinct soil and microclimate of each vineyard that went made the grade, the presentation went dead… Blank screen, nothing.

Luckly Lucy Hyde was sitting near the front & she sorted it.

After God gave an introduction we all poured the first wine, which was a mighty red, and we all begin to swirl with reverence. I put the wine up to my nose and . . . nothing.

 

It took me both hands to lift each glass, but I went through tasting each wine with maximum concentration -- although it was hard to ignore the oohhs and aahhs of the assembled angelic palates. My taste buds were in total confusion. Every wine looked and tasted the same. Dark purple, sweet oak, high alcohol, soft well-integrated tannins and . . . well, that was it. I could only think what the heck were you supposed to eat with wines like this?

Then God looked right at me and said, "What are your comments on these wines." Jesus Christ (I really have to stop that) -- Why me? I thought.

"Well," I stuttered, "this intensity is amazing."

 "Exactly!" stormed God. "We cut yields to only one grape per vine!"

“Oh my god... God really is a winemaker.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winners of the Lazy Ballerina Photo Comp.

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Winner of the "Landscape Category" - Andrew Bull - with his photo of Blewitt Springs.

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This nice mobile phone picture by Suzie Newbury of Lyndoch in the Barossa won "Best Mobile Photo".

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Congratulations to Tara Kimpton who won the "Winemaker's Choice" in #lazypics. Tara's gallery of work was outstanding and she is a worthy winner. The team at Lazy B are pleased to share what she has done with a wider audience.

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Winner of the "Wine Oh" category is Jeanette Stannard with this gem from Sellicks Beach.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Timekeepers - McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

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The DJ's Growers Crew on stopwatch duty, Matthew Wilson, Brad Cameron and Sam Freeman. Brad Cameron, a fifth generation grape grower in McLaren Vale is a more than handy photographer and took official photographs of the day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

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James Hook with the team at DJ's Growers brought back an old event from the past – The Annual Pruning Championship – as a feel good event to reward all of the workers who help produce the regions world famous wines.

Grape pruners raced cutting three panels of vines to see who was the quickest. Their work was then checked for accuracy, and time penalties were given for mistakes. The winner was the competitor with the best adjusted time.

The event was last run c. 1972 and has a long history going back to the 19th Century. Our judges for this years event were Lyndon Elliott & Fred Osmond each with 50 years of experience.

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Congratulations to the winner of the McLaren Vale Pruning Championship, Jeremy O'Donald - picture above finishing. Jeremy won, both his heat and the final, with his combination of speed and accuracy.

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In a notable effort Dan Wright - pictured above - from Dog Ridge wines and Swell Brewery came third.

Meet the Judges - McLaren Vale Pruning Championship

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Our judges for this years event were Lyndon Elliott (left) & Fred Osmond (centre), shown with Derek Cameron, each with 50 years of experience.

After the pruning competitor completed their work, Fred and Lyndon marked any faults, mistakes or errors in cutting the vine, which added a five second penalty to each competitors time.

Both Lyndon and Fred are multi-generation grape growers from McLaren Flat. Both of their families have produced the grapes behind some of the most famous labels in McLaren Vale, Hardy's Tintara and d'Arenberg.

Fred Osmond farms McLaren Vale oldest grapes, which are thought to date to the 1840's when his farm was first settled - and Lyndon's vineuyard is made into a special single vineyard wine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

McLaren Vale Hail Storm

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McLaren Vale was hit by a severe hail storm in the early afternoon of the 4th of July. Large hailstones fell all across the region, with the western edge of the town having very large stones and ice clogging the roads. We feel sorry for the pruners who got smashed by this hail, shown above, on Rivers Lane on the western edge of the township. Luckily it looks like the vineyards were already deserted.

The sound of the hail failing on roof tops sounded like a ship colliding with a jetty, as you would hear in a Hollywood disaster movie. The storm made a sickening groaning sound as it passed. In the wake of the storm ice littered the roadside and the land looked as if snow had fallen.

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The hail also continued into the Adelaide Hills Wine Region. This picture by Bec Hardy of the K1 by Geoff Hardy Cellar Door looks as if you could go skiing.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the state can expect to see more wild weather in the coming days and issued a severe weather alert for the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, the South East and parts of the Yorke Peninsula. Fortunately vines are dormant at this time of year and are not damaged by hail.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

McLaren Vale Pruning Competition

Time
08 July · 15:00 - 18:00

Location
McLaren Vale Visitors Centre
Lot 2 Main Rd
McLaren Vale, Australia

Created by:

More info
DJ's Growers are bringing the McLaren Vale Pruning Competition back from the pages of history – (hats were mandatory during the 1923 comp at Reynella!)

Gather your best pruners. For a test of pruning speed and accuracy as judged by the ‘Legends of McLaren Vale.’

More info e: james@djsgrowers.com.au
p: 08 8323 8339

Friday, June 3, 2011

Groundswellsa Launch - Guerilla Gardening

Time
11 June · 13:00 - 16:00

Location
McLaren Vale Visitors Centre Carpark
Main Rd
McLaren Vale, Australia

Created by:

More info
Join us for a protest against the lack of services in the south, urban sprawl and food security.

With special guest Nick Xenophon, Independent Senator for South Australia.

After gathering at the Visitors Centre, we are traveling to Seaford Heights in convoy to plant a community garden.

Bring plant seeds, and tools if you have them.

This is the first event for GROUNDSWELLsa - a community group fighting for better intelligence, deeper sensitivity, brighter creativity and serious community involvement in the development and conservation of South Australia.

More info? james@djsgrowers.com.au

www.groundswellsa.org

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Winedup#2

Organised by ERCmedia, hosted by Homestyle Solutions, WinedUp is a wine-tasting event is put on twice a year for wine enthusiasts who engage in the social media platforms (predominantly Twitter) in Adelaide, SA, Australia.

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Lazy Ballerina was proud to support.

WinedUp #2 was held at Homestyle Solutions on Saturday, 28th May 2011.

Our guests tasted some of Yalumba's top wines (Octavius, Signature) as well as the newest beer released by the McLaren Vale Beer Company. Fresh food supplier, Feast Fine Foods, also provided delicious Coorong Angus Beef Salami and Bresaola.

Event organiser Rubina Carlson from ERC Media noted on Twitter, "Indeed @lazyballerina - you had some stellar tweets written about your #Viognier! :) #wine"

You can join in by following James, @lazyballerina and find out what we have planned next.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seaford Heights - can't see the forest for the trees.

The Seaford Heights housing development was approved yesterday by planning minister John Rau.

As Philip White noted, Minister Rau made a few quite startling admissions, during the announcement. He suggested that South Australian developers, planners, and architects were so far unprepared to build the sort of higher-rise, more intensive, smaller-footprint village housing that many locals prefer, and indeed his own government insists is ideal for infill in the city of Adelaide proper according to his government’s new 30 Year Plan.

Former McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Chair, Dudley Brown said the decision to allow the development to go ahead at Seaford Heights was rash and ill thought out.

"It does seem to me that the South Australian government does defer on many occasions to the developers and the big end of town," he said in the Australian.

"I fear it's the face of Australia - weak governments and big business."

The compromise treeline, which was one of the changes from the original planning application for the site is shown for the first time below.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Lazy B Photo fest.

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Can you take the ultimate wine photograph?

 

We are searching through your tops shots to come out with a winner. 

 

The rules are pretty simple. 

 

During June all you need to do is post your pics to our Facebook site. Over the next month we will put a shortlist together and get our fans to vote.

 

The winner of each category becomes a Lazy B. VIP.  You receive our new wines as they are released… for life.  That is every new wine we release, for as long as we are in business. Well worth winning.

 

We will sort the photo's into four categories.

 

1-   Historical - Pictures that invoke the history of wine, or the places it is grown and made. Thinks ‘Palms at Seppeltfields.’

 

2-   Landscape – Vineyards are pretty.

 

3-   Wine-Oh! – that stunning wine photo you took. Might be drinking or partying. Use you imagination.

 

4-   Mobile Phone – Anything from your phone or non camera device – we call this the Sam Freeman award.  

 

Winners announced July 4th, 2011. 

 

This is going to be great!

 

James

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Media Muddle - Is it the Best or Worst Vintage?

2011 McLaren Vale Vintage Report

One of my personal pet hates is the constant drone of winery publicity relations proclaiming it to be the best vintage ever. This season we have had also had of chorus of media proclamations stating it is the worst vintage ever.

Rain clears in Willunga, South half of McLaren Vale Wine Region.
I am only 31 years old and have a 12 year career in the industry. If I believed the scribes I have worked through 10 of the best vintages in the history of space and time... plus five of the worst.*

Last week I have heard reports of wine industry commentators suggesting the 2011 vintage was a ‘write off’. While it has been an extremely challenging year in McLaren Vale with rain and disease pressures, I have seen many good vineyards and some very good wine. 

Philip White from Drinkster dug up some perspective. The summer of 2010-11 was, in fact, the second wettest on record for Australia.

"Nationally we averaged 354.7mm, 70 per cent above normal and second only behind the infamous summer of 1973-74 when 419.8mm was recorded," said Tom Saunders, meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

Downy Mildew affects grape yields by 'burning off bunches.
“Victoria’s had its wettest summer on record,” he continued. “Western Australia recorded its second wettest summer. South Australia recorded its third wettest summer. New South Wales recorded its fifth wettest summer. Queensland recorded its sixth wettest summer. Northern Territory recorded its eighth wettest summer, and Tasmania recorded its seventeenth wettest summer."

Closer to home in McLaren Vale the trend of wet weather continued but it is not all doom and gloom. The areas south of McLaren Vale, through Willunga and down to Sellicks faired quite well. These areas are notoriously windy and this air movement naturally assists in preventing disease. 

For most of the season the extra rainfall during summer helped keep vines healthy and most growers were able to keep on top of the summer diseases Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew. Unfortunately as the time for picking grew near in March we had 80mm of rain at the wrong time.

For growers in the areas south of McLaren Vale, they were able to quickly pick their fruit before Botrytis Bunch Rot set in.

The other end of the scale was Blewitt Springs. Fruit in this region was not ripe and couldn’t be picked immediately. Here the terrain is undulating, with hollows that trap moist air. Blewitt Springs and wet other pockets in McLaren Vale experienced persistent misty rain without sunshine for about four days that resulted in botrytis infections that grew exponentially. There fruit was not ready to immediately harvest. The fruit had to hang, exposing it to damage.

Jock Harvey from Chalk Hill Wines puts it into perceptive, "This was not due in anyway to incompetence, negligence or a lack of commitment," he says. "It was devastating for individual growers and for the wineries who intended to take the fruit."

While it has definitely been a difficult year for many, with varying degrees of quality, there will be outstanding and exciting wines produces from the 2011 vintage. Don't listen to the spin from PR companies.

If you want a reply say the McLaren Vale vintage is the best, worst vintage you are ever likely to see… it all depends on where your vines were and if you were lucky or unlucky with the summer rain.

*Spoiler Alert. If you ask me to list the vintages in order I have done so below from both a winery perspective and a grapegrowers.

Grape Growers & Winemakers

Good years 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010. In 2007 a severe drought made good intense wine but saw most grape growers have the lowest tonnages since 1982. I rate 2007 very highly for wine quality but it was very damaging to the local economy.
Grape harvest continues after  the vines leaves have turned yellow from Downy Mildew infection.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Retro - History of McLaren Vale - Part 3

You can write words, or you can take pictures. Welcome to our project of finding old photographs of McLaren Vale and surrounds and retaking them to show how everything looks today. We hope you enjoy!

Taranga as a ruin in the 1990's.
The Olivers Taranga site has been heavily re-vegetated as these photos show. The road has been built up higher forming a large embankment.

McLaren Vale Fruit packers building in 1980. Note the Caltex service station in the far right.
Fruit packers gets a makeover in 1981.
Fruit Packer Building is very similar accept for changes to the windows at the front. Cars have changed and both the trees in the foreground and the petrol station in the background have grown. If you look closely the building has 'strunk'. Part of it has been removed to make the petrol station bigger.

Aerial view of Main South Road Morphett Vale, showing the Emu Hotel centre, left of road, in the early 1950s.
Esplanade Aldinga Beach c.1979.
1970, the original Christian Bible Church chapel seen here at Sea View Chapel Hill. Gladys Stillwell & Peg Dunstan pictured.
Chapel Hill as a modern winery.
With thanks to Andrew Tuck for the pictures from the 1970's and 80's as well as some archive pictures from the State Library of South Australia.

You can view more of our work on Lazy's Facebook page.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9th, 2011 - Congratulations Rose and Norman Hook - 70th Anniversary.

Norman and Rose Hook celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary with a party at the Lazy Ballerina Cellar Door. Norman and Rose are Paul's parents and James' grandparents.

Rose, 89 years old and Norman, 90 also this month were married in March 1941.

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They have a great, great grandchild in the UK, which means five generations of the family are alive at once.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3rd, 2011 - Rick Bakas visits McLaren Vale.

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Rick Bakas is a thought leader in the world of wine and social media - on twitter alone Rick has over 50,000 followers which makes him one of the most influencial social media proponents. Rick was invited to visit McLaren Vale and catch up with leading, local wine social media users. Louise and Joch from Battle of Bosworth joined Janet from Mollydooker and myself for a tasting and conversation with Rick. To make the tasting more pleasant Adam Tripp-Smith hosted Rick at the Salopian Inn and served up a two course meal.

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Jeff Wright from the McLaren Vale Beer Company and Luke Tyler from d'Arenberg also tasted through the line up.

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Battle of Bosworth's newly released 'Spring Seed Co - Sav Blanc' was served with entree. Over mains we tasted 2007 Lazy Ballerina - Tatachilla Single vineyard Shiraz, 2008 Mollydooker Velvet Glove, 2008 Battle of Bosworth 'White Boar' Shiraz and 2008 Hugh Hamilton Saperavi.

For the rest of 2011, Rick will be traveling the world educating businesses on how to build their brands online. He will be visiting NYC, London, Mexico, Sydney, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Vancouver, Adelaide, Munich, Napa and Perth!

We wish him well on his trip.

April 2nd, 2011 - Vintage Pictures 2-0-1-1

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The beauty of the Kuitpo region of the Adelaide Hills shines in Autumn... Unfortunately while the weather is sunny when this photo series was taken, many other days see the vineyards smothered in cloud.
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April 4th, 2011 - Vinteloper Wines makes Best of the Best 2011.

Congratulations to Vinteloper Wines for making Mike Bennie's Best of the Best List in the April issue of Gourmet Traveller Wine.

Mike says,

"Sourcing regionally works well for winemaker Dave Bowley. Picking and choosing from a variety of vineyard sites has honed his portfolio into a sharp hit list of regional specialties from South Australia, but with an individual flair thanks to his more relaxed approach to winemaking. Bowley’s sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot gris are orderly, fresh wines with plenty of enjoyment factor. Where it gets real is with his remarkable 2010 Odeon Riesling, Clare Valley (labelled ‘Natural’ this vintage), which eschews normalcy for riesling produced in Australia and tows an unfettered, unadorned line. Textured, alive and brittle with electric personality, Odeon is brilliant white wine. The 2008 McLaren Vale shiraz has plenty of pluck too, and finds a very even keel balancing fruit verity and finesse."

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The full best of list is shown on GTW website.

April 4th, 2011 - Lazy Ballerina Website Goes Live

Today, the new Lazy Ballerina website goes live. Big thanks to Glen Laundy at Tekspec Design for updating our old site to WEB 2.0.

If you are interested in updating your own site contact Glen at glen@tekspec.com.au

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letter to Grape Wine & Tourism members - from Pip Forrester Chair.

Hello Everyone,

This email is to let you know that our discussions and resistance to the
development of Seaford Heights continues and to advise you of the
details for this year's BankSA Sea and Vines festival.

The Association, The Board and I, as Chair, persist in our engagement in
discussions and negotiations with the other stakeholders; The Southern
Community Coalition, The Friends of Willunga Basin and with The City of
Onkaparinga.

The latest development in the process is the City of Onkaparinga's
response to a letter from the Minister for Planning (Minister Holloway)
which advised of the Minister's amendments to the Seaford Heights
Development Plan Application (DPA) resulting from the consultation
process with numerous community groups, including the McLaren Vale
Grape, Wine and Tourism Association and various government departments.

At its meeting on 15th March the Council resolved as detailed in the
attached letter from Mayor Rosenberg to Minster Rau. In summary the
decision was;

1) That the Council restates its wish for the land to be rezoned 'rural'

2) If rezoning is not approved, the Minister be requested to convene a
'round table' to include all those who had been involved
in previous consultations to consider an alternative development
policy for Seaford Heights appropriate to a transition to
the Willunga Basin and rural areas.

3) That the Minister take note and take action on the responses to the
proposed changes to the Seaford Heights. DPA

4) In the event that the Minister does not approve the request to rezone
the land to rural, the Mayor and CEO of the
City of Onkaparinga express their concern in relation to the Seaford
Heights DPA to the Development Policy Advisory Committee
and to the Environment Resources and Development Committee of
Parliament.

For details on point 3) please see the attached letter to Minister Rau.

This resolution, in large part, reflected the wishes of the three key
community groups; McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association, The
Southern Community Coalition and the Friends of Willunga Basin who as a
result of discussion were in agreement on their position.

Your Association Board, at its recent meeting, has also reiterated that
it's first preference is for the land to be rezoned 'rural' and it's
second preference is for the consultative process to be recommenced.

I will keep you informed about the Minister's response to the Council's
resolution when it is received.

With respect to BankSA Sea and Vines, please also note the attached
summary of the details for the event this year. As those of you who are
involved are aware, we are in the process of evolving this event and as
a result have had numerous meetings leading to several alterations to
the delivery model to meet the needs of all the businesses wishing to
participate as can be seen from the attached summary.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has put in
time and effort to come up with the present solution, especially
Elizabeth Tasker and her team.

The BankSA bookings open on Monday 11th April and all bookings on 14th
April. We anticipate that the brochure will be available by then and the
details will be on the website in the next 10 days.

Best wishes

Pip Forrester
Chair
McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism

Saturday, March 26, 2011

From the vineyards up...

by PHILIP WHITE
This was first published in The Independent Weekly in August 2008.

“Mr. White, I’m not like you”, James Hook said as I settled in his ute. “I am a scientist.” He then took me to show me a thing or two about McLaren Vale, where he worked for the Grape, Wine and Tourism Association.

In this business, you don’t meet many so certain about their roles and their determination to fulfil them. Ian Hickinbotham spoke in such a manner when first introduced some thirty years ago; his son Stephen, was another. Ray Beckwith, too, now in his mid-nineties, is still similarly precise. Probably no other Australians have had such influence on wine as Hick Snr., and Beckwith, with their ground-breaking work on pH and malo-lactic fermentation, now taken for granted by winemakers the whole world over. Had Stephen not been killed in a plane crash, I’m sure he would have gone on to show us another thing or two.

So here was your writer, suss that we’d run out of such people of serious category, and jaundiced by the thousands of cocksure pretenders and self-promoters who fill the vast gaps between. “Their obituaries describe these people as successful businessmen and they pass promptly into oblivion” wrote Walter James of this mob in 1970. I don’t think this will be said of James Hook.

I’d seen Hook the scientist at work when he’d been called in to make an independent judgement on a grape crop. With another viticultural scientist, Derek Cameron, they succinctly disproved an allegation that the crop was diseased. The brewery which had tried to evade its purchasing contract was forced to keep its bargain, and the conscientious, terrified grower stayed in business.

And now in McLaren Vale, Hook gradually unfolded a severe arsenal of knowledge and attitude. Not only did he show a rare savvy about vine husbandry, but his deep appreciation of the folly of greed and environmental destruction left most of the wine business for dead.

Then he sent me some shiraz: an understated bottle, displaying a dancer resting on a chair, named Lazy Ballerina after a canopy management where the vine’s canes were organized to resemble the dress of a ballerina. That wine, and another release since, with a little viognier, impressed me very deeply, with its intensity of character, gastronomic intelligence, and promise for the future.

With his parents, James has purchased an unusual, if run-down, European garden on the big bend at the south end of the Kuitpo forest. A new tasting room is nearing completion; the garden is gradually regathering its beauty, its silver birches and healthy river red gums standing in bright contrast to the wall of pines opposite, a carpet of winter blooms spread beneath. A peacock admired himself in the reflecting door as we nudged the glasses last week.

James, the viticulturer, had planned four shiraz wines and managed their vines accordingly. Two were from vineyards he considers sufficiently distinctive and suitable to be released as single vineyard wines, to offer numerous points of difference for discussion about the nature of McLaren Vale shiraz. Another is a cross-vineyard blend, designed to follow the style of his earlier releases; the fourth is a shiraz viognier.

“I have planned these from the vineyards up”, he said, introducing a string of barrel samples. “This exercise is to test my plan, to ensure the wines are sound and true to my original goal, or if any of them require tweaking or blending.”

The wines from Dudley Brown’s Inkwell vineyard, near the Gulf on California Road, was tighter than most shiraz, reflecting an uncommonly dense grape cell structure: elegant, but highly focused and intense. No changes required. Next was the contrasting monster from the piedmont of Sellicks Hill, from the vines of Paul Petagna. Whilst closer to typical Vales shiraz, with its cuddly big chocolate and licorice, this, too, was tight with mighty tannins, and ever so gradually tapered off into a tail uncommonly elegant and refined after such an opening. Right on the knocker.

The blended wine, from various sources, followed closely the earlier Lazy Ballerina style – read masterly - and the last, the shiraz viognier, is a lesson to those who mindlessly blend these varieties in the name of fashion alone. No peach syrup in this baby. Uh-huh. It had all the austere acid and tannin elegance of the first three wines, but with the added tannic finesse that only tiny additions of early-picked, cool-climate, co-fermented viognier have to offer.

Only one barrel was faintly suss, still showing a little lazy malo-lactic ticking away. It’ll be fine when the Lazy Ballerina tasting room opens in the spring. Which is something worth waiting for, given the maker’s success in defining the flavours of his finished wines in advance, then selecting and managing the vineyards to achieve his goal. We have a new benchmark forming up, there in the forest. I’m hooked.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kuitpo Weather.... March 17th.

Kuitpo Year To Date.

Average rainfall to Mar: 77.2mm 22.7 day(s)
Total for 2011: 120.8mm 16 day(s)
Total to this day 2010: 39.6mm 14 day(s)
Wettest day: 46.6mm Feb 19
Lowest temperature: 7.7°C Mar 2
Highest temperature: 39.4°C Jan 31

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

McLaren Valley name change proposal.

An article from the Southern Times Messenger has sparked debate on the Lazy Ballerina Facebook page.

Here are some of the comments -

WBM magazine says - I like McNaren Vale as I heard a Hong Kong VIP call it. The only thing that should be changed is politicans with stupid ideas.

Steve Lindner says - Always a worry when a polly is suggesting change, I've always loved the name, don't change!!

Jessie Morris says - Fair call. I like the fact that McLaren Vale is so different to the Barossa...I don't think SA needs two wine 'valleys'!

Jet Robins says - Not a fan Mr Hook. It's the Vale (plus the Flat). Plus, linguistically I find McLaren Vale easier to reel off.

Chris Dix says - Obviously none of you or politicians are aware of Clare Valley, a historic winemaking region just 120km north of Adelaide....

Laura Jackson says - MacLaren Vale - I'm lovin' it. TM

Margot King says - I live in the Barossa and used to live near McLaren Vale. There is no need to change the names. Why do people with nothing better to do think that changing a place name will in any way benefit those who live and work in the region?

Lara Winsor says - It doesn't work, just confuses people more and dilutes the message.
The Atherton Tablelands in North QLD changed it's name to The Cairns Highlands by pollies & tourism 'experts' a few years ago. The locals still call it Tablelands, tourist...s know it as Highlands and confusion abounds! I suggest anyone who gets confused that a town & region have the same name aren't the sort to appreciate to difference between a Cab Sav and a Sav Blanc.

Lazy Ballerina says Coonawarra Valley - just like the Barossa but with more Cabernet.

Rymill Winery says via twitter - Coonawarra Valley? Just like the Barossa? <- Requires one very large iron there, more germans here.

Tim Hardy says - Took the words right out of my mouth Chris and lets not forget Eden Valley. valley count so far 4!!!

Ashley Coats says - Valley Ale?!? Sounds like something teenage girls in the 80's would drink.

Trudi Duffield says - Sounds like a lolly?

Shane Barker says - Just what we need - more confusion!

Yvonne Arnold says - Nah, we've got used to it being a Vale, and its known world wide as McLaren Vale via the wine industry.

Susan Read says - An Italian backpacker friend of mine is still convinced it's called McClaren Valley also my phone's predictive text won't allow the word "Vale".

Karra Yerta Wines says - I'm still trying to process the woman with the chair - :) Can we slow all these changes down a lil bit?:)

Douglas Colin Tapfield says - This is retarded. Is he proposing to keep the the town named McLaren Vale but rename the area McLaren Valley? It's already more confusing.

Matthew Stuckey says - My branding advice would be exactly the contrary. By trying to piggy back on the Barossa's name, the Vale would only lose brand recognition and always come off as the lesser of the two. From a tourism aspect I much prefer McLaren Vale to the Barossa exactly because it is more compact and therefore scenic, you can see most of the vale from up on the hill which is great for touristy wine region photos.
Is this "confusion about the broad area it covers" keeping people awake a night? Why change to pander to the lowest common denominator (people who get confused by the word 'vale' in the obvious context of a valley?

Annika Berlingieri says - McLaren Valley - Where one Valley leads to the Vale???

Dan Procter says - Vale Ale's in trouble, would it be called Valley Ale?

Keith Rutherford says - Don't be ridiculous!!! McLaren Vale is what is has always been known as, don't mess with the brand!!! Change Barossa Valley to Barossa Vale instead!!!

Keith Rutherford says - It is the start of March, not the 1st of April, by the way.... Someone is a bit early for April Fools Day!!!

Lazy Ballerina says - McLaren Valley? Secret valley?

Travis William Armener says - Considering, geographically, that McLaren Vale isn't actually a valley, it seems a bit stupid. Changing the name "just because" seems pointless, and we will just be tagged as, "riding the coat tails" of the Barossa. I think politicians should concentrate on more important issues, like saving McLaren Vale from urban sprawl. Stopping Seaford Heights seems like a much more important issue to be working on!

John Maddock says -It's all about the brand!

Need to be careful about messing with the brand. McLaren Vale is now an international brand that has a high value. It is a given that the brand encompasses more than the people, produce and experiences of a town. One... of the strengths of a vale is that it extends into the hills and valleys that surround it.
King Island is a stunning success of a brand but it has come to mean much more than just the richness and purity of its dairy produce. Tasmania's north and north/west has particularly benefited from strength and drawing power of the brand.
What about Clare Valley .... mmm riesling:)

Sandra Sharp says -Think Mr Bignell needs to find something else to do with his time. Surely his energy could be better spent in lobbying for McLaren Vale to be recognised as a region (as the Barossa is) and then we would get better funding instead of being lumped in with the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mintage Vintage

We enlisted the help of our cousins, Ashleigh Pawley and Jonjo Pawley. In this picture the girls are checking Shiraz fruit for ripeness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thunderheads over the Adelaide Hills.






A clean-up is underway in the Barossa Valley and other parts of South Australia after fierce thunderstorms.

The downpour and strong wind gusts brought down trees and led to flash flooding late on Tuesday.

Emergency crews rescued a woman at Eudunda after her car got swept along a flooded road.

Swan Reach recorded nearly 70 millimetres of rain.

Nuriootpa and Kapunda had readings of more than 40 millimetres.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winemaking behind the scenes... Botrytis

NOBEL ROT IN SEMILLON GRAPES IN FRANCE.

Botrytis cinerea is a bunch rot of grapes and is one of the most important fungal diseases of grapes worldwide. You see it mentioned on wine labels - but in truth it is a grapevine disease that most growers frown upon.

The fungus causes two different kinds of infections on grapes. The first, grey rot, is the result of consistently wet or humid conditions, and results in the loss of the affected bunches. Yucky.

BOTRYTIS IN SHIRAZ.
The second, noble rot, occurs when drier conditions follow wetter, and can result in distinctive sweet dessert wines.

The 'bad' Botrytis happens when vineyards get heavy rain before harvest and is most severe where excessive nitrogen has been used, where air circulation is poor, or where an insect pest called Light Brown Apple Moth or other factors have damaged bunches.

Rotted berries - right - typically have a grey cast of the fungal growth and spore-bearing structures which gives the disease its common name - grey rot.

My viticulture blog -  http://djsgrowers.blogspot.com.au/ - contains for information about botrytis and other grape issues.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Crush 2010 - Kuitpo Cluster.


K1 by Geoff Hardy were thrilled to be a first-time host venue for Crush 2011 joined by Lazy Ballerina, d'Arenberg and Griffin Wines.


Richard (top and above) and Nathan (above) manned the K1 by Geoff Hardy stand. K1 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Arneis were a big sellers on the day as the temperatures rose.