3am and Zero degrees – Hello Somerled Pinot!

Hi this is Emma! I’m the other Moody daughter and – having timed my annual holiday to the Hills during vintage – I am totally schooled up in what dad’s up to! I’ve been following him around in an invasive manner to find out all the details for you, and Maree is letting me borrow the blog so I can tell you!

So last thing we all knew, the harvesters were marching in to pick the Pinot Noir from our Charleston vineyards.

And march in they did! At 3am, at zero degrees, and with Rob in a very warm leather jacket supervising!

This particular harvester is actually quite fancy. As well as plucking the fruit from the vine, it actually destems the fruit too. You might remember, this process usually happens later on in the winery rather than on the machine itself. It’s efficient and gentle on the fruit to have it as part of the harvesting process on the actual machine though – fabulous technology:

The fruit looks really good, even though the harvester did pick up a few hard green grapes, which we weren’t expecting. However, since they’re so physically hard, they won’t crush and disrupt the beautiful juice, they’ll just sink to the bottom and separate out.

Once in the winery, the juice and fruit was tipped straight into a small open fermenter rather than having to go in via the crusher – that makes it gentle for the fruit.

Yeast was added after a day’s soaking. And here it is looking delightful:

What about my Somerled bubbly? Where is it?

A cry I am often inclined to whimper when I realise I have run out and live half way around the world!

Our baby 2019 bubbles is looking fantastic, thanks to dad, yet again.

We went up to Summertown on Saturday morning and picked in what seemed like incredible heat – it was about 40 in the city that day:

And here’s Paul Henschke on the quad zipping up and down the rows. The pickers fill the milk crates with bunches, and Paul zooms along collecting them on the back of the quad, to take them up to the top of the vineyard to add to the big bins, where they’ll stay til the truck comes to take them to the winery:

The cellar hands are here raking the fruit into the hoppers, which feed the new fruit to the elevators which take them straight to the top of the press! Doesn’t this look like something you’d quite like to drink while celebrating in a few years’ time?

SO much action around here this week! And dad’s still managed to make it to all the lunches and dinners we’ve had planned for the family, even if it did mean getting up two hours after we’d all gone to bed to supervise picking in the dark!

Cheers dad.

And just to cap off the week, here’s how our little sauvie is going:

Remember how stunningly green the juice was last week? Other wordly.

It’s sitting at 6 degrees at this moment, so all the grape solids are sitting on or near the bottom of the tank. Next step is to bring the temp up to about 10C, add the yeast and away goes the fermentation!

Happy to meet you, Sauvie 2019 and Fume 2019!

Can’t wait to have you in my wine fridge ….

Thanks for having me visit you on the blog, and I’ll try to drag dad out to lunch again now in between him peeping over all of the fermenters at the winery! Wish me luck!

Emma xo



Rob’s half century

After 50 years of winemaking Rob thinks he’s finally starting to “get the hang of it”. Those who know and love his wines know he well and truly got the hang of it a long time ago.

It may or may not be Rob’s birthday coming up next week, so what better time to honour this great wine-maker with a post dedicated to his 50 years.

Join me as I ask him all the important questions…

How many times have you fallen in a fermenter?

Just once. And it wasn’t as traumatic as it sounds!

It was at Penfold’s in Nuriootpa, when I learnt the lesson that a plank across an open fermenter should always be attached at both ends. It was a red fermentation which had only just started so the must was quite dense, meaning I didn’t sink any further than my waist. Fortunately, we lived across the road then, so I could pop home and get changed. Unfortunately, though, I ruined a beautiful pair of handmade (by my Auntie Madge) woollen socks!

OK… so, maybe that wasn’t one of the important questions!

But this is…

How has the style of wine changed over your 50 years – what was popular in the market when you first started?

Fortified wines were strong – we almost had to fight the fortified wines makers to get access to fruit. Table wine was only just starting to become really fashionable.

Rieslings changed from wines which spent a lot of time in the winery (in barrel) to something a lot fresher – it was almost a race to see who could get them into bottle the quickest. They became a dominant force in the 70s.

Sparkling wines were mediocre at best. We had very little access to Pinot and Chardonnay back in those days. It just wasn’t grown here. Just in Coonawarra. For that reason, they were usually made from a neutral variety like semillon. Riesling was also used. They weren’t made in the full traditional method – while they were bottle fermented, they were then transferred into pressure tank and filtered back into bottle.

Sparkling red wines were probably better than whites back then. Seppelts Great Western and Minchinbury were the two big producers in the early 70s. They were probably doing 50% red and 50% white. Although with the advent of Cold Duck (what a terrible name!) which was a sweet sparkling red produced by Kaiser Stuhl in the Barossa it became undignified to drink sparkling red.

Which was your toughest vintage and why?

Definitely 2011. An area like McLaren Vale was not quite as badly affected, but badly enough that we didn’t produce a 2011 Shiraz.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what happened in 2011 – it absolutely bucketed down in January and February. In some areas the amount of pre-vintage rain was around 10 times the average. This created ideal conditions for disease, rendering a lot of South Eastern Australian fruit useless.

We did, however, produce a 2011 Sparkling. It was the first time we took fruit from Paul Henschke – I remember walking through the vineyard and seeing not even one mouldy bunch. No one really knew what they did differently, but whatever they did it worked! My preference to pick nice and early also helped.

I also managed to secure a small amount of Chardy, but every second bunch needed to be dropped on the ground due to disease. Picking was a long and expensive process, so we took what we could get that year.

I was able to make a Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s an early variety so I was able to get to it before the damage was done.

Most vineyards that year were a complete write-off.

Do you have a favourite grape variety?

No… that’s like asking a chef if he has a favourite food! (or if you have a favourite daughter hey Rob?!)

All of the really good varieties have so much to offer, I can’t single one out as being super-duper.

If I had to narrow it down to a top three they would be:

Shiraz – not only because it’s a good variety in Australia and so available. It seems to be less dependent on having a perfect microclimate.

Cabernet – but finding high-quality fruit is difficult. Coonawarra does it more consistently. They have super cabernets year after year.

Chardonnay is a variety that has got so many facets to it. It’s always fun fiddling around with a variety like that.

Is there a variety that you would like to work with that you haven’t so far?

Nebbiolo – one of the best wines I have ever come across was an Italian Nebbiolo.

If you couldn’t drink a Somerled wine what would be your next choice?

If I could afford it… Penfolds! Penfolds and Wynns would pretty much satisfy all of my wine drinking requirements. (Biased much Rob?!)

Given your long career, what would be your one best piece of advice for other winemakers?

I wouldn’t have said this five years ago but basically to build on what has been done before. There have been so many great people who are skilled and dedicated and with all of the advances we’ve made over so many generations, it seems ridiculous not to build on that and make it more consistent – both in winemaking and in the vineyard.

Also… don’t be different just to be different.

What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted and why?

’55 Grange – it got so many trophies and gold medals you can’t fit them on the label.

When I was first at Magill one of the jobs I would do often was to go down to the tunnel to get a couple of ’55s. I would use a 2 L glass beaker as a decanter and I remember the whole lab was filled with the aroma of this fabulous wine. Even though, back then it was only 14 years old.

The Nebbiolo from Italy was way up there as well. It was a 10-year-old Marcarini that I came across in a restaurant in Alba in 1999. It was much lighter than Grange but so incredibly complex and delicate.

While we’re on the topic, how long should you keep wine for?

Any red worth its salt will go 10 years and should be at a stage by then as being about as good as it gets – it should have a lovely balance between the primary fruit flavours and the secondary flavours. That’s not to say that the wine won’t still be lovely 5 or 10 years on, but the risks will be greater. Absolutely store it for longer but more for academic purposes rather than thinking it will get better.

How has winemaking changed?

The biggest single thing is the availability of sophisticated technology – the prevalence of stainless steel tanks, high-quality filters and presses, etc. Back in the day, we used wax-lined concrete tanks. They were underground which is good for temperature stability but variable in quality. Wine would find it’s way behind the wax and interact with the cement render and would go off. Thousands of gallons of wines would be discarded.

Attention to detail in the vineyards seems much higher too. We now have access to targeted product for pest and disease control. The Australian Wine Research Institute has conducted practical and relevant research work, designed to help. They also have the ability to get the message through to the industry.

Also, there has been such an improvement in the overall consistency of wines. The market has grown and there is now more competition. Per capita consumption started at around 8 (litres per person) then within 20 years, it was around 20 litres. According to Wine Australia, it was 29.6 litres per person in 2016.

Do you find winemaking hard work?


I’m sure for people who have a small operation who do such a lot of the physical work themselves it would be hard to keep going under the mental and physical pressure of it all. Using a contract facility, I no longer have to do the heavy physical work. I’m happy to hand over the physical job, but working out how to the get the best out of the fruit is something which occupies the mind quite a bit.

Do you think that it’s a good thing that young people are taking wine so seriously, or are they even taking it too seriously?

I think it’s fantastic that they do – as time goes by that absolute passion will tend to ease back a bit and will become a basis for enjoying wine forever. It’s very infectious. It’s hard not to get excited when young people wax lyrical about Somerled wines in particular. It gives me hope for the future of the industry.

However, it is always good to have a degree of scepticism – instead of accepting everything that is said to them, it is always good to question things. Especially when it comes to low-intervention wines.

Also, I find that young people tend to put 10 different descriptors against a wine, but that’s not necessary. They are better tasters than I am if they can find all of that in a wine!

What wine do you open most often when the family’s around?

Generally Shiraz – I’ve got a fair store of wines up to 20 years old that I can pull out. It’s a consistently rewarding wine.

What will you be opening on your birthday?

A 2004 Kangaroo Island Cabernet and perhaps a 2001 Somerled Shiraz if there is one left.

(Rob and Heather will be holidaying in the Flinders Ranges for Rob’s birthday and Heather tells me that she’ll be making her Mum (Barbara)’s Beef Olives to accompany these special wines on the day. And it just so happens that this will be your next Jockey Club pack recipe! If it’s good enough for Rob…)

“Where can I buy your wine…?”

“Ummm, here…?!”

We get asked that question a lot at the cellar bar. Of course, you can buy the full selection of Somerled wines at our lovely little slice of Adelaide Hills heaven in Hahndorf. But what I think people are asking is…

“Where ELSE can I buy your wine?”

In comparison with the bigger players in the industry, Somerled is tiny. We produce just 3,000 dozen bottles of wine a year. So, in the scheme of things, we’re really not big enough to distribute our wines via the big retail outlets.

You will, however, find us in a few restaurants here and there…

  • A couple of local offerings in Hahndorf
  • The Collins Bar at the Hilton in Adelaide CBD
  • Orana/Blackwood – a couple of seriously cool restaurants in the city
  • Bennelong at the Sydney Opera house love our Shiraz
  • A funky little place in Doncaster called Tender Trap

… and the reason we sell to these places is that they approached us. They tasted our wine and enjoyed it so much they wanted to share it with their customers. Of course, they did!

The Stanley Bridge Tavern also sell our wine, but the Moodys practically begged them to put our wine on their list because they love their pies so much!

And now, thanks to Lucy and her need to spend more time in the Flinders Ranges recently (and why would she, take a look at those photos! Stunning!), you can find us at the Blinman Hotel! Here is Lucy drinking a glass of Somerled Sauvignon Blanc. You can also find our Shiraz and Pinot Noir there!

This recent addition should keep Heather and Rob happy when they visit the Flinders in the coming weeks!

Shameless plug

While we hope you stumble across a glass of Somerled while enjoying a meal at one of these locations, what we love most of all is serving it to you ourselves at the cellar bar in Hahndorf. Our relatively meagre production is then distributed amongst our biggest fans via our Jockey Club. Just two bottles every two months are sent all around the country to people who have visited us and enjoyed a glass or two… perhaps served by Rob himself!

If you’re a fan and would like 15 – 20% discount on all our wines along with a host of other member benefits send me an email or give us a call (08 8388 7478) today!

Why is this post so… short?

Perhaps not up to its usual standard?

While I love bringing you the blog each week, I have been dedicating most of my time this week to another exciting development for Somerled…


I hope all will be forgiven when we launch the beautiful new site in a few weeks time.

Also, if you pop in this weekend, I will be trialling a fancy new Point of Sale system – so don’t laugh at us too much as we get used to using technology!

Stay tuned for more exciting things as we finally move into the 21st century!!

A rosé by any other name…

… would taste as sweet?! But at Somerled, we prefer them delicate and dry!

If there are a million ways to make a red wine, there are a billion ways to make a rosé. (Fact). Why?

Firstly, you can use ANY red wine grape

In Australia, the more common varietals used to make Rosé include shiraz, pinot noir and grenache. But also, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Rob has used sangiovese to great effect in the past, but he absolutely favours that gorgeous perfume of pinot noir. Each carries its own flavour profile – cherry, perfumed, mulberry – just like the big reds.

Secondly, there are several ways to make it


Mix a red and white wine together and what do you get? A crudely made and not necessarily fabulous tasting rosé! This method is generally frowned upon.

Saignée (‘san-yay’) method

Rosé can also be made using the Saignée, or ‘bleed’ method. This involves ‘bleeding off’ a portion of the juice into a separate vat to finish fermentation. The remainder goes on to make red wine.


When making big red wines, winemakers will crush, press right down and leave that juice on skins for days. They want maximum flavour, tannin and colour.

To make a rosé in this way, you simply need to leave it ‘on skins’ for a shorter period of time. But how long? Rob likes his Rosé fine, soft and pale – so he can’t have it pressed for too long or there will be too much tannin in the resulting wine. It is only ever in contact with the skins for a couple of hours. Others like to press for ages (up to 24 hours) and come up with a darker, more tannic version.

Thirdly – sugar

Rob ferments his right down so it’s bone dry, like the French. But with rosé in Australia, there has been a longstanding trend to stop fermentation before it finishes so that not all sugar is fermented – and you are left with a sweeter wine which can be appealing to young drinkers.


The permutations in the way these three aspects can be approached are endless. Of course .. if you’d like to try an Adelaide Hills Trophy Winner .. best order some of ours! (Shameless) (But true).

Who is Rob Moody…?

Rob Moody wine maker

…and how did he come to make such amazing wines?

For those of you who haven’t heard, this year marks Rob’s 50th vintage! But, he didn’t start life as a winemaker. Rob was originally a maths teacher at Norwood High School who had never made wine in his life!


How did this whole wine-making thing come about?

It wasn’t until Rob met Heather that his interest in wine developed and he began to imagine life as a winemaker… even though, back in 1968 making wine wasn’t the trending sensation it is now!

Max_Schubert_tasting_wineTo get a foot into the industry, Rob posted letters to the major producers – Orlando, Hardy’s, Penfolds and so on. Who was the only one to answer? Max Schubert, the Father of Grange, of course! He said sure, why don’t you come on in for a chat?

Apparently, the first 10 minutes were fairly awkward, but then they started chatting marvellously. Rob cheekily suggested that Penfolds put him through Roseworthy oenology course. Max said, in essence… “Yeah, why not?”

By 1969, Rob was Assistant Winemaker. And by 1971, he was in charge of the red ferments for the ’71 Grange – famous for being the best wine in the world for that decade.

Max then personally asked Rob to oversee the Grange winemaking when it all moved up to the Barossa in subsequent years. A natural fit for a quiet, masterful talent. No wonder The Advertiser says Rob’s wine is now ‘about as close to Grange as you’ll get’.

Can Rob explain what it is about Grange then, that gets people so excited (including him?)

It has its pick of some of the best vineyards in the country! That’s a great start. All those words Rob uses – dark and rich (due to the fruit), complex (due to time in barrel) and lovely integrated oak. He doesn’t always agree with the price tags, but he does agree it’s among the best wines he’s ever made!

But we think your Somerled wines are pretty good too Rob!

This week in the winery…

Rob has been working on the reds this week.

2016 Shiraz

All the barrels of the 2016 Shiraz were brought down out of the stacks so Rob could taste each of them to make sure there weren’t any with a problem (tough job!).  The barrels were then pumped out into a stainless steel tank.

A sample from the tank was brought into the tasting room and trials set up to test the effect of fining agents. It was decided that very little was required. A very small amount of gelatine and egg white helped to soften the wine slightly without stripping out flavour or deadening aromas.

So the fining has now been added and the wine will be racked (leaving the sediment behind in the tank) back to barrels.  The barrels will be topped, tightly sealed and then put back into the stack.

Rob is really happy with the way it is looking. It’s typical Somerled Shiraz! It will benefit from another 3-4 months in barrel though before it will be prepared for bottling.  Then it will have a couple of years to settle down in bottle before release (so don’t get too excited just yet!).

2017 Shiraz

He also tasted each of the 2017 Shiraz barrels this week.  It’s a long time before this wine goes to bottle, so it was racked into the tank and then pretty much straight away put it back to barrel and topped up.  The benefit of doing that is to get a bit of air into the wine and keep its development moving along in the right direction.

2018 Pinot Noir

He also did the same with the 2018 Pinot Noir which is very aromatic and has such a lingering flavour.  Rob says it’s going to be as good as the 2016 and 2017 and may have the potential to be even better! Even better than 2017??!! Those lucky Jockey Club members who received a bottle of this in their latest pack would agree that is a hard task!

Do you know what goes well with a Somerled red?


This Saturday is our inaugural Somerled Italian sausage making day…

Which is now officially SOLD OUT!

Please get in touch if you would like to join future events and we’ll add you to the waiting list!

Pick me!

Casting our minds back to this early post, we now all know how Rob decides it’s time to pick his grapes. But how are they physically picked?

The romantics amongst us probably imagine they’re all lovingly picked by hand… gently placed into baskets and carried to the winery by dedicated but carefree workers basking in the glow of the late summer sun. No? Just me?

Well, traditionally grapes have always been picked by hand (I may have taken a little creative licence with the carefree basking). These days though, we also rely pretty heavily on machinery.

But it all depends a bit on the variety and style of wine.

Let’s take a closer look at each method and find out exactly what Rob does with his grapes…

Picking by hand

Hand-picking is obviously the gentlest way to handle grapes at harvest time. It allows the removal of whole bunches – leaving the berries attached to the stalks.

Mechanical harvesting

Mechanical harvesters work by moving along the row and shaking the vines. This movement causes the berries to fall off their stalks.

There are several benefits to using machine over hand-picking. Firstly, and most obviously, it allows grapes to be picked at a fraction of the cost and time. This can be really important when the grapes have reached their desired ripeness and need to be removed quickly. Secondly, these machines can pick through the night when temperatures are cooler. As we know, oxidation can occur at higher temperatures, so picking at night is often a better option if daytime temperatures are high. Ideally, grapes should be picked at an ambient temperature of between 8 and 16 degrees Celcius.


So why pick by hand at all?

There are a few situations for which mechanical harvesters cannot be used…

Some vineyards are simply inaccessible to heavy equipment. Steep slopes can make mechanical harvesting impossible.

In other cases, the winemaking technique dictates the use of whole bunches. For example:

  • in the production of premium sparkling wine where whole bunch pressing is used to extract the juice
  • When red wines are made using carbonic maceration
  • Where there is a need to select only certain bunches or parts of bunches due to the presence of disease.

Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. The result are wines that are fruity in aroma and flavours, sometimes with a distinct banana aroma. They lack tannins, and deep color. Carbonic Maceration is most commonly practiced in Beaujolais with the Gamay grape, which has thin skins and produces lots of fruity aromas and flavours.

So which method does Rob use?

Rob always hand picks his Pinot Noir for Sparkling and Rose along with his Sauvignon Blanc.

The main principle is to finish up with fine, delicate, low colour juice. The tannins also need to be low. Since colour, tannins and compounds leading to a bigger bodied juice/wine are in the skins, it makes sense to keep berries/skins intact until the bunches get to the press. Machine harvesting always causes rupture of skins and release of juice, no matter how well it’s done.

For red wines and bigger bodied whites such as Chardonnay, this extra extraction is not a problem, so all the varieties for dry red (Shiraz, Tempranillo and Pinot) are machine harvested. It’s also beneficial for Chardonnay to be machine picked as it helps to give bigger body, and the slight extra tannin is easily absorbed with the barrel ageing.

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not come to Somerled for a welcome glass of red (or two) near the courtyard fire pit, before rolling up your sleeves with us for a fabulous, instructional and semi-hands-on sausage making day. That’s right… join us and the Gepetto’s boys who will teach you how to make cured Italian sausage!
Great fun for under 18s too.

Saturday 21 July 2018 at 11:30am

Tickets via https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=397757

ADULTS: $150pp all-inclusive!
UNDER 18’s: $80pp

A newcomer to the Somerled stable

Well, not entirely new. Those of you who have been with us for a while will remember our 2009 Picnic Races Cabernet Sauvignon and our 2010 Picnic Races Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc.

That’s right… Rob has finally caved under the pressure of requests from some key Jockey Club members (you know who you are!) and perhaps a little from Heather as well!

Enter our 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon!

But the truth of the matter is, Rob is a huge fan of this variety. According to him Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling are the “crème de la crème” of wine varieties. Not that there is anything wrong with the others… obviously!

100 years on…

This particular wine though has a special meaning for Rob. He is making it in commemoration of 100 years since the death of his grandfather, Stephen Bowd.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Somerled story, it starts with Stephen – a successful horseman. On April 20th, 1908 at the Oakbank Picnic Races in the Adelaide Hills, he rode a horse called Somerled, winning the Amateur Steeplechase by 20 lengths.

Rob never knew his grandfather. Stephen was killed in the First World War near Ypres in 1917. Rob’s mother Bett, however, was most proud of the Somerled brand and the cellar door concept. She saw what Rob and his family created with Somerled as a great acknowledgement of her father, who would have enjoyed the tribute enormously.

An Adelaide Hills Cabernet?

No, Cabernet struggles to ripen well in the Hills cool climate. Rob was looking for grapes in the Wrattonbully wine region in Naracoorte, but in the end, he wasn’t happy with the quality. He eventually discovered a beautiful parcel of fruit in the Clare Valley, thanks to long-term Somerled friend Greg Koch. The berries were small and evenly spaced (see photo). They ripened effortlessly during their inherently long growth period.

Winery update

So far it has had just over a year in fairly new French oak barrels. It has been racked and returned three times now with its fourth happening in the next few weeks.

There is no mistaking the variety when you taste this one. It has those characteristic mulberry flavours and firm tannins. With each rack and return, Rob has seen it fill out and soften.

Don’t get too excited just yet…

You’ve got a little while to wait! According to Rob, he MAY be seriously considering taking it out of barrel and bottling it this time NEXT YEAR!

Whatever happens, you will be the first to hear about it. And make sure to keep an ear out for what will no doubt be an exciting launch event!

Wild White

The excitement of vintage seemed like only yesterday. But this week, the first of our 2018 wines was bottled! Here are the first boxes of our Somerled 2018 Sauvignon Blanc hot off the bottling line!

The wine finished cold stability early last week and was filtered.  Rob did a final tasting at Lodestone during last week and decided it didn’t need any further additions or movement.  At that point, the tank was relocated into a temperature-controlled room to help bring it up to a good bottling temperature (around 15C).  Monday it was loaded onto the truck and off it went to Boutique Bottlers at Stockwell in the Barossa.  Rob and his brother-in-law Wal (you can just call him Uncle Wal!) were there to see it go into bottle yesterday.

In Rob’s words, “It’s a lovely pale, bright wine with a really lifted floral/perfumed nose and a delicate dry soft clean crisp palate.  Perfect aperitif!!” I think that means he’s happy!


Want to know a bit more about this popular, but sometimes unappreciated variety?

Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions in France. The name literally translates to “Wild White”. Sauvignon Blanc is also famous for parenting the noble grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, also from Bordeaux.

Sauvignon Blanc is a very flexible variety – it can be grown in a number of different climates, resulting in a range of styles. In Bordeaux’s maritime climate, Sauvignon Blanc produces wines with ripe full fruit flavour. While in the continental climate of the Loire Valley in western France, make wines of purity, minerality and length. In the Sauternes region of Bordeaux in south-west France, when blended with Semillon and aided by the Botrytis fungus, some of the world’s greatest sweet “dessert” style wines are produced.

The Marlborough region in New Zealand is probably one of the most well-known producers of Sauvignon Blanc these days, but we Aussies make some pretty good ones too (and not just of the Somerled variety!).

Aussie Sauvvie

As I’ve mentioned, Sauvignon Blanc differs greatly depending on the climate and soil in which the grapes are grown. Australian Sauvignon Blanc runs the gamut of flavour from herbal, grassy, sour citrus and gooseberry, to passionfruit and tropical fruit characters. Structurally these wines can be light in body and crisp or medium-bodied and rich. Some, like our Somerled Fume Blanc, are oaked to add a further dimension of complexity. Sauvignon Blanc is Australia’s top selling white wine in dollar terms.

Which region in Australia produces the best Sauvignon Blanc?

Well, of course, I’m going to say the Adelaide Hills! But, the truth is, they are all so different it would be unfair to compare them. Let’s take a closer look at each regions and the styles of Sauvignon Blanc they produce…

South Australia

While we share the same “cool climate” categorisation, the Adelaide Hills is slightly warmer than Marlborough. It is for this reason that we produce crisp, fresh Sauvignon Blanc with tropical flavours rather than the trademark grassy notes of our NZ counterparts. Coonawarra also produces some lovely cool climate Sauvignon Blancs

South Australia also produce some richer, riper examples in McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. These aren’t as popular here because we’re not used to this rich style in Australia.

Western Australia

Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc has ripe, zippy and grassy flavours that have attractive, tropical musky-asparagus aromas. Pemberton is a small Western Australian region that produces distinct Sauvignon Blanc styles with tropical fruit aromas and flavours.


Victoria’s cool regions produce some fresh and vibrant Sauvignon Blancs, with those from the Yarra being typically elegant and restrained. King Valley and Goulburn Valley Sauvignon Blanc is often grassy and also shows classic cool-climate freshness and vibrancy.


The cool Tasmanian climate is ideal for Sauvignon Blanc, that typically has high levels of crisp acidity, which gives the wine great freshness.

Orange, NSW

A relative newcomer – Orange’s cool climate and high altitude have proved to be ideal conditions for creating Sauvignon Blanc with fresh, herbaceous characters.

How does Rob make his Sauvignon Blanc so “mouth-watering”?

The secret to Rob’s amazing Sauvignon Blanc is that he likes to pick the fruit nice and early. That way, the soft acid or what he likes to call “mouth-watering” acid, is still present. The longer the fruit is left on the vine, the more it ripens – replacing the acid with sugar. If Rob picked it later, then he would need to add acid in the winery to create the same effect.

Rob also like to choose fruit from different parts of the vineyard to get a nice range of flavours. From ripe mango in the full sun areas to zingy passionfruit in the cooler, shadier morning sun rows.

The overall effect is a soft, mouth-watering, elegant Sauvignon Blanc!


If you’re a Jockey Club member, watch out for a bottle of this new release in an upcoming pack… it won’t be too far away. Once it has been released to the club you will be able to taste it at the cellar bar – why not pop in for a side by side comparison with the 2017 version?! (and a platter and another glass or two…!)

Thank you! … you know who you are.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s post with your great questions and feedback! Make sure you keep an eye on the blog for a post dedicated to your topic of interest.

Temporary interruption to our regular broadcast

So, here’s the thing… I’ve had one of THOSE weeks. Luckily, I’ve had a good supply of Somerled wine to get me through. But, I am asking for your forgiveness and input and hoping you’ll do the hard work for me this time around…

I love writing this blog and hopefully, I am helping you to understand a little more about the winemaking process and what makes Somerled wines, in particular, so special.

But, am I?

Who are YOU?

Is anyone out there?

I would love to hear from you!

So, I am hoping that I can leave this week’s post up to you. Comment below and tell me…

  1. What is one thing you have learnt since reading the blog? Or which has been your favourite post so far?

    Is it the updates from the winery you like the most? What about information on your favourite varieties? The practical stuff? Or do you like it when I get all technical on you?!

  2. What is something you would like to learn that I haven’t covered yet?

    You name it, I’ll investigate it for you!

Don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty of ideas and topics to bring you! And next week, I will be back with another informative post straight from The Horse’s Mouth!

The ‘S’ word…

Spanish Sherry

Ok, I am going to say it once, and then you have to pretend you never heard it.


… or Apera, as we must call it in Australia these days. Thanks to a trade agreement between Europe and Australia back in 2010, local fortified winemakers were banned from using the ‘S’ word.


Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown near the town of Jerez, in Andalusia, Spain. What you may not know though is the name ‘Sherry’ is actually an anglicization of ‘Jerez’. So, we can’t call it that for the same reason we can’t call Australian sparkling wine ‘Champagne’.

Wine Australia maintains the Register of Geographical Indications and Other Terms to ensure correct use of Geographical Indications (GIs) and Traditional Expressions (TEs) on both wine labels and associated advertising material in Australia. There are over a thousand protected European names.

Anything which is protected can not appear in the presentation and description of a wine that isn’t connected to it in any context. There is a clause in the Act which also prohibits the use of terms like ‘style’, ‘method’ or ‘imitation’.

For further details and a full list visit the Wine Australia website here.

A 2010 trade agreement, you say? Why am I only hearing about this now?

That’s a good question! My guess is that it is simply not very popular. When we think about Sh… sorry, apera, we often remember it as something our grandparents drank (ie. not cool!).

I also think that people just don’t understand it. We most often think of it as being sweet, which is certainly true for some. However, there is a whole world of styles out there… dry, mid-dry semi-sweet, etc. etc., but we will come back to this.

How is apera made?

After primary fermentation of the base wine, apera is fortified (simply meaning to “add spirits to wine”). Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later.

What makes apera so unique is the use of flor yeast. After standard white winemaking procedures, the wines are transferred into barrels, which are only partly filled. The wine in each barrel is then seeded with a special yeast (flor yeast) and stored for several years. Because the barrels are only partly filled, the wine’s upper surface is exposed to air – providing ideal growing conditions for the flor yeast. As the yeast grows it forms a film across the surface.

The solera system

Another unique feature in the production of apera is the use of a solera system. Barrels of wine are arranged in a pyramid-like stack with the youngest wine in the top layer and the oldest wine in the bottom layer. At bottling time, the wine to be bottled is removed from barrels in the bottom layer of the solera, taking only a small portion. Then each cask is refreshed from the layer above. This results in a progressive mixing of young wine with older wine, a process known as ‘refreshing the wine’.


Apera comes in a variety of styles… most of which we also can’t mention for locally made versions! For your information though, there are a couple of useful tables to describe the varieties of Spanish sherries below…

sherry styles

types of sherry







To try some of these varieties side by side (and to understand how they can be paired with food), Seppeltsfield in the Barossa offers a great tasting.

If you’re wondering what the dry end of the apera spectrum tastes like (just between us, it’s in the palo cortado style – but don’t tell anyone I said that), why not pop in to see us and we can pour you a little of ours – it’s a great aperitif!

You didn’t know Rob made a Somerled apera?!

Well, you do now! …and it’s for sale through the cellar bar.

Tell us a bit about your apera Rob…

“The apera that we have in a barrel, and a few bottles, was made in the SA Riverland from the 2009 vintage.  It was made from palomino grapes, the grape variety that most Spanish sherries are made from.  In my early days of winemaking, there were many growers across the country who grew palomino and they usually grew pedro ximenez as well.  In those days fortified wines were much more popular than now, so over the years some really nice palomino vineyards have been removed as no one wanted the fruit. 

“Palomino produces a rather neutral dry white wine, nowhere near as aromatic or flavoursome as riesling or sauvignon blanc for example.  This is one of the reasons that palomino dry white makes such a good base for the most delicate, pale dry apera wines.  But it also makes a great base for the more robust, deeper coloured aperas.

How did you make it…

“So our apera started off as a delicate dry white, very pale, and was fortified with very neutral grape spirit to an alcohol content of 15%.  It was clarified and pumped into barrels that had been used for wine storage for some years previously.  The barrels weren’t fully topped, as is usual with table wines, but were filled to about 75-80% full, leaving quite a headspace above the wine.  On to the surface of the wine, a specially selected yeast, called a flor yeast, was gently sprayed.  This yeast is one that will grow on the surface of the wine, unlike the usual wine yeast which grows all through the juice/wine.  The wine is quite dry (ie contains no, or almost no sugar), so there’s none of the usual bubbly fermentation, but instead the flor yeast spreads across the wine’s surface.  It produces a compound called acetaldehyde, and this is what gives the apera its typical aroma and flavour.  It helps to protect the wine against oxidation, and that’s why the apera stays so pale while the flor yeast continues to grow.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a couple of barrels of the young apera in 2011, and some of you may remember seeing the apera in a glass-headed barrel that we kept in the cellar door for some years.  That barrel is still our main apera barrel, but is “kept out the back”..!

And what about that “work” trip to Spain?

“As the apera developed, it became more and more difficult to maintain the flor yeast film on the surface, so the colour of the wine started to deepen.  It so happened that Heather and I spent a month in Spain about then, and much of that time was spent in the south of Spain, particularly in Jerez which is often said to be the capital of the Spanish sherry industry.  We visited some wonderful bodegas and even though I started off with a high degree of scepticism, I/we were won over by the range and variety and absolute quality of the sherries.  One wine style that we loved enormously was the very old Palo Cortados which were a lovely golden tawny colour, dry as a chip, and with wonderfully complex aromas and flavours.  A similar style in Australia would be an aged apera that we used to call Amontillado, but the Australian version of an Amontillado always had a fair bit of residual sugar.

sherry in barrel“So, I could immediately see a great future for our Somerled apera as a wine modelled on the Spanish Palo Cortado style – and that’s the way it’s going.  It’s now over 9 years old, and has been in barrel for nearly all that time.  The flor yeast film has long disappeared, but the flor influence is still there, just as it is in the old Spanish Palo Cortados.  It has deepened further in colour, so that it has a lovely golden tint with a touch of the tawny, and the aromas and flavours are incredibly lifted. 

“The Somerled apera has an alcohol of just on 15%, so it’s not much more than a big red table wine, and this helps the wine to remain soft. It doesn’t have the bite of a lot of other aperas which are closer to 18%”.

Has this post piqued your interest in apera?

Why not pop in this weekend to try some for yourself!

Not in Adelaide? That’s ok… we can ship a bottle (or two!) to you anywhere in Australia!