I do this blog for fun, the wines here are some of the very few I can be bothered to write up. The cream has risen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cradle of Hills Splash+Merge 2012

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get an invite to Paul and Tracy Smith's Cradle of Hills Wines inaugural Splash+Merge event. The word inaugural is mine, because I am very confident that they will must do this again, and if the wine drinking public is lucky, they will do it many more times.

The wine industry should be paying close attention here, because this is a perfect example of how you encourage people to understand what makes a great wine.

I was going to say 'teach' about great wine, and it was in fact termed a 'masterclass', but that could conjure up suppressed memories of classrooms, being required to pay attention, and worrying if there's going to be an exam at the end.

In fact, it was about having enormous fun, imbibing both knowledge and wine, and generally wondering how life could get better.

The backbone idea was to allow us to see that blending 3 very good wines could actually produce something even better. Blending is in fact used by almost every winery to some degree, even with single variety wines. I won't go into all I learned on blending from Paul Smith (winemaker/host), except to say I reckon I would now be able to wrire enough that you'd be bored silly with my knowledge - this is something that Paul did not do!

A brief rundown though, is that we started with a 2011 Shiraz, 2011 Mourvedre, and 2012 Grenache. The idea was to try each wine on it's own, pick what was it's strengths, and combine those to create something even better.

There was 19 of us, divided up into groups, and there was the lure of both pride and a bottle of Scarce Earth, for those who came up with the concensus best blend to encourage us to be somewhat serious.

Our group ended up with 6 blends, in parts of Shiraz/Mourv/Grenache;
50/50 (no Grenache)
and probably not surprisingly blend #6 was our best. But what was surprising is that the 3% Grenache really made a noticable difference, probably because it was younger and added some lift to the nose.

The final blends were tasted by all, blind. Meaning we didn't know which wine as opposed to our personal state, of course all of us were using the spitoons and nobody was getting sozzled!

We didn't win.

In fact a Shiraz/Grenache 65/35 got about 70% of the votes, which Paul said and I agree, was because it's the best 'drink now' wine. Our Mourv heavy blend was rated by Paul as the one to lay down the longest, so it really does depend on what you're making the wine for.

I'd like to just add too, that I was not the driving force behind the large Mourv percentage, though our group was certainly the biggest proponent overall. Also, despite the negative 2011 vintage talk, trust me that this is a very good Mourvedre already, and the Shiraz also - those vinyards are on a fair slope and get the benefit of a sea breeze, not to mention very good vineyard management, (though I do seem to have mentioned it), so whilst it shows somewhat as a cool vintage there is no negatives to these 2011's, unlike in some places.

BTW Paul, if you read this, my bet is the 2011 SM will be 60/35/5 based on my own post competition blend, but don't let me influence you ;)

There was also a lunch offered when booking, and everyone had been wise enough to hang around for that. The food was all sourced from the Willunga markets, which has some truly excellent produce from local farmers. Superbly served up by Tracy, who showed that a degree in Horticultre qualifies you to make a bloody good salad to go with beautiful hams.

CoH wines were available with lunch at CD prices, also half bottles, but I am not stupid and ordered full case of 2010 Shiraz Mourvedre with my lunch.

Here's some pics to make you all jealous. If any guest doesn't want their photo shown here, please contact me and I will swear out a Stat Dec that you were nowhere near the place and all resemblance to you is purely coincidental.

On the way to the barrel store Paul was explaining a little about their vinyard. Oh, I didn't mention the barrel store above. The day was full of bonuses like that.     

Shiraz vines. Apparently they are 2 weeks ahead of the Cab Sav. This is a good thing.

Wee baby shiraz grapes, vintage 2013 on it's way.

The aforementioned Cab. You may notice the ground cover which is due to the organic nature of these vineyards, ie. no herbicides here!

The only thing that could have made the day any better was if you could bunk down in the barrel store at the end. Probably best we didn't, but we did have a taste of the 2011 and 2012 Scarce Earth Shiraz, which thanks to us is now even scarcer.

We were probably supposed to be listening to Paul here, but there was splashing and merging to be done!

The failed 5. Due to our sacrifices, you may be sure that a 33.3/33.3/33.3 GSM won't be on offer this year.

If I was classy I would have taken a pic before eating, but venison salami and great chorizo does not give a belly much patience.

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