The Mitchelton Diaries Pt 5: The Vineyards

Our vineyards produce grapes not only in the Mitchelton Estate but also the famous Heathcote area, which are exclusively Shiraz plantings on the north-facing side of Mount Camel. From the rich, ochre-red ancient earth of the weathered Dookie Hills to the alluvial sands of the Goulburn Valley floor, this part of Victoria around Mitchelton is home to several wineries both distinctive and distinguished. The warmth of the region is softened by an abundance of lakes, billabongs and creeks, while the loose, sandy and gravelly soils typically produce generous yields without compromising colour or flavour.

The alluvial river sediments on which the Mitchelton Estate was founded come from the granite Strathbogie Ranges in the east, the mudstone sediments of the Graytown Hills, and the ancient marine deposits of the mountains to the south. The unique characteristics of these various soil types interact with our vine roots in a variety of ways, ultimately creating unique wines of great complexity.

Since its inception in 1969, Mitchelton has developed a proud history of quality amassed around our award winning wines crafted from our main vineyard in Nagambie. Today we also pick grapes from our Toolleen estate vineyard in Heathcote and source quality fruit from our grower partners across Victorian wine regions.

Source: https://mitchelton.com.au/about/

 

The Mitchelton Diaries Pt 4: Working With the Land

Sustainability…

Committed to protecting the environment of our picturesque backyard, the team at Mitchelton is a proud custodian of a sustainable and distinct eco-system inspired by our ever-present neighbour, the Goulburn River. Bordered by red gums and indigenous flora and fauna – the river plays an intrinsic part of a sensitive natural cycle, which inspires a holistic approach to winemaking.

To further minimise our environmental impact, we have adopted several pioneering Environmental Management Systems. These include the introduction of an innovative wastewater wetlands process which uses indigenous native reed species to provide natural filtration of water used to irrigate the vineyard, minimal use of synthetic pesticides, composting of winery bi-product waste and the responsible resourcing of recycled packaging.

Source: https://mitchelton.com.au/about/

The Mitchelton Diaries Pt 3: Winemaking

Specialising in the production of Shiraz, Riesling and Rhone blend wines from grape to glass, our winemaking team is known for bringing out the unique regional characters in our award-winning selection of our estate-grown varieties. With meticulous attention to detail, Mitchelton wines boast a rare balance and intensity of flavour. Enveloped by the meandering curves of the Goulburn River, thriving with indigenous wildlife and vegetation, the unique environment of our vineyards and climate create estate characteristics found in every bottle.

 

Our Chief Winemaker, Andrew and Viticulturist work in harmony with the land to unlock the best from each block through innovation and interaction with the soil – a focused approach that creates wines of distinct personality, intimacy and longevity in our pursuit of wine excellence.

Source: https://mitchelton.com.au/about/

Harvest – June 2020

– By Peter Bourne

ENJOYING THE BEST OF THE EDEN VALLEY

A GROWING FORCE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIAN WINE

The Eden Valley Wine Region is renowned for its rieslings — brisk, aromatic and incredibly long-lived. However, there’s a growing awareness of the region’s finely-honed red wines — primarily shiraz with cabernet sauvignon shining in cooler years. And it’s these cooler conditions that set the Eden Valley apart from its lower and warmer neighbour, the Barossa Valley.

Elevation is the key to Eden Valley’s unique micro-climate with vineyards planted between 300-500+ metres. These higher altitudes bring somewhat cooler days, the moderating effects amplified by night time temperatures that drop dramatically. The cool mornings help slow the ripening process with picking in the Eden Valley often 2-3 weeks later than the lower (and therefore warmer) Barossa Valley floor.

The extended ripening allows the grapes to retain a good level of natural acidity, which gives the vitality to both the Eden Valley’s rieslings and its reds. The flavours are finer too, with red fruits dominating and gently persuasive tannins in marked contrast to the brash, black fruits and punchy tannins of the reds from the Barossa Valley.

Our warming climate has bought more reliable seasons to the Eden Valley with the move by costumers to more subtle food-friendly reds cementing the Eden Valley in the hearts of winelovers across the country.

The Mitchelton Diaries Pt 2: The Architecture

The plans for the winery, cellar door and tower were drawn by Robin Boyd CBE, one of the country’s most renowned architects. Following Boyd’s death in 1971, the equally admired Australian architect Ted Ashton completed the design. After Mitchelton opened in 1974, the 55-metre tower soon became a recognised icon of the Victorian winemaking landscape.

More recently, Mitchelton continued its partnership with leading architects by engaging the practice of Hecker Guthrie to design a new cellar door and 54-room hotel. The impressive result borrows from the existing architecture’s modern lines, rustic textures and sculptural forms, making it a natural fit in both the built and natural environment.

Source: https://mitchelton.com.au/about/

 

The Mitchelton Diaries Pt 1: The History

The rich history of Mitchelton stretches back to 1836, when explorer Major Thomas Mitchell came across this place during a 900-kilometer journey from Sydney to Melbourne. Over a century later in 1969, the entrepreneurial Ross Shelmerdine planted his first crop of vines here, naming his new winery after the historic figure. The bottles which were produced, with a focus on Riesling and Shiraz, were soon enjoyed by wine lovers around Australia and were also highly awarded on the world stage.

In 1991, Mitchelton won both the Jimmy Watson Trophy for best dry one year old red (the 1990 Print Shiraz) as well as Vineyard of the Year. As well as its wines, restaurant and Ministry of Chocolate café, Mitchelton also became known as a destination for outdoor concerts in a spectacular setting ‘on the green’. Over the years thousands of audience members have enjoyed music from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryan Adams and many others.

The Ryan family purchased Mitchelton in 2011, adding to the winery’s offering with the opening of a luxury boutique hotel in 2018.

Source: https://mitchelton.com.au/about/

What grapes are best suited to Eden Valley?

– With Peter Bourne –

Shiraz thrives in both the Barossa and the Eden Valley regions, although the style of Eden Valley shiraz is more savoury and subtle to the warm-blooded, brash Barossa style so loved by international commentators like Robert Parker Jnr.

Riesling also loves the Eden Valley with its cooler nights and higher humidity, but is far less comfortable in the hotter, drier Barossa Valley. Incidentally, the Eden Valley receives 280 millimetres of rain annually versus 160 millimetres for the Barossa Valley — so neither could really be considered a ‘wet’ climate!

Cabernet sauvignon does well in the Eden Valley, though the cooler years in the Barossa Valley can yield some high quality wines. The sun-loving grenache prefers  the Barossa to the Eden Valley, appearing in many guises — as a rosé, solo or part of a GSM (grenache, shiraz, mourvèdre) blend.

Newer varieties to our shores like tempranillo are doing well in both regions, while nebbiolo has taken a liking to the cooler Eden Valley. Given our warming climate, it’s safe to say that Eden Valley has a brighter future, but few would dispute that the Barossa Valley is home to some of Australia’s greatest (and oldest) shiraz.

South Australia’s EDEN VALLEY

– With Peter Bourne –

EDEN VALLEY VERSES THE BAROSSA?

The Barossa Wine Zone covers approximately 14,000 hectares, roughly equal to 10% of Australia’s grape vines. Its long history and close proximity to Adelaide makes it one of our best known winegrowing areas. The Barossa encompasses two wine regions, the powerhouse Barossa Valley and the minnow — Eden Valley — with less than 2,500 hectares under vine.

The climatic differences between the two valleys are as important as the geographic, with the higher Eden Valley (reaching 630 metres) on average two degrees cooler than the lower and warmer Barossa Valley floor. Two degrees may not seem much, but taken over the growing season it means that the grapes in the Eden Valley ripen up to a month later than over than those grown on the Barossa floor.

Neither the Barossa or Eden Valleys are especially steep, although the drive up from the Barossa Valley via the tight switchbacks of Mengler’s Hill (as you do) is dramatic, with the rolling hills of the Eden Valley offering a distinctly different feel to the Barossa floor.

Soil types are another factor in defining the two regions, with the Barossa Valley offering the rich red soils of the banks of Jacob’s Creek (the estuary that gave its name to the wine brand) and the Para River. In contrast, the Eden Valley is raw and rocky with shallow soils — the iconic Steingarten vineyard in the High  Eden subregion aptly named. Steingarten is German for ‘stone garden’ and a reminder that it was German vine dressers who first planted grapes in the Barossa way back in the middle of the 19th century.

Meet the Maker: Jo Irvine, Barossa Valley S.A.

– With Peter Bourne –

Although, Jo Irvine comes from well-known winemaking family (her father, James is universally known as the ‘Master Merlot Maker’) Jo Irvine was drawn to the medical world before undergoing a mid-life epiphany and enrolled in an oenology course. Irvine worked six vintages both in the Barossa Valley and California before starting her own wine consulting business in 2003. In 2010 with her partner Peter (and two young boys nipping at her ankles) Irvine established a 500 tonne small batch processing facility in the Barossa Valley under the ‘Wine Wise’ banner.

Irvine career is an exemplar of success and was awarded the trophy for Best Zinfandel and Best Red Winemaker at the 2006 International Wine Challenge. 2008 saw Irvine as a finalist in the Telstra Business Women of the Year and was anointed Barossa Winemaker of the Year the following year. Irvine’s own brand Levrier was numbered in the James Halliday Wine Companion Top 10 new wineries in 2019. In her own words “Great wines are created by synergy and attention to detail both in the vineyard and in the winery … by providing specialized, small batch winemaking facilities to many smaller producers, I am able to create unique wines from their vineyards.” Kyara Wines are the beneficiary of this incredible drive and passion.

Kyara: Hidden Gem of the Eden Valley

– With Peter Bourne –

The roots of Kyara Wines dates back to 1847 when a young Silesian refugee — Heinrich Fiebiger — arrived from Prussia and settled with his family in Hahndorf. In 1861 Fiebiger moved to the Flaxman Valley and went on to  become a pioneer in the establishment of the Eden Valley region. The top echelon of the Kyara wines are named in his honour — Thistle & Burr, Bush Lawyer and Justice of the Peace each recognise Fiebiger’s various roles in local government. The Thistle & Burr Riesling is named after Heinrich Fiebiger’s position in 1873 as Thistle & Burr Inspector, when these weeds were carefully monitored. The other two brand names are self-explanatory. Over 150 years later, Heinrich Fiebiger’s descendants still live off the land he settled in the Keyneton area in 1861.

The new era begins in 2012 when Barossa-born Kylie & Leon Prendergast returned to their birthplace after a 20 year sojourn travelling the world in the fashion accessories business. Their Heathvale homestead dates back to 1872 with their vineyard planted in the 1970’s with later blocks in the 1990’s. Their first vintage in 2013 set a standard that’s been eclipsed every year since. The 2015 Justice of the Peace is a highpoint of the Prendergast’s winegrowing with the empathy of Jo Irvine’s winemaking an important contributing factor. The Prendergast’s are patient folk, waiting until 2018 to launch their first wines onto the domestic and international  market. The blend of an historic site, fresh & enthusiastic eyes and Jo Irvine’s assiduous winemaking will soon see the Kyara name up in lights. There’ll never be a better time to buy Kyara wines.