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.

What a week!

Rob has been a VERY busy boy this week with Vintage 2018 AND bottling of a number of our wines starting all at the same time. Let’s just say, he has definitely earned a glass (or two) or something this week!

Let’s start with what has been happening on the bottling line…

Last week we transferred 2015 Shiraz, 2017 Pinot Noir (dry red), 2017 Fume Blanc and 2017 Chardonnay to Boutique Bottlers in Stockwell in the Barossa.  Boutique Bottlers is a great, small (as the name suggests) bottling operation run by Kym Burgemeister and his family.  We use them because they do everything really well and given that bottling is about the last point at which something can go dreadfully wrong with a wine, it’s reassuring to know that Kym and the team are looking after it all.

However, that doesn’t mean that Rob puts his feet up and lets them take care of the bottling process. Nothing could be further from the truth! His day started at 8am yesterday when he went to check that the wine arrived safely and to ensure that there hasn’t been a mix up with any of the wines. He also checks that the carbon dioxide and dissolved oxygen levels are within specification. Despite all the care and attention, it’s a rather nerve-wracking time for Rob… it’s for this reason that he always leaves the wine for a week or two before tasting it after bottling.  And there’s no doubt that the wine does change due to all the handling prior to and during bottling… but then it settles down and usually looks better after a while than it did before it was bottled.

Have a look at this little video of our Fume Blanc on the bottling line…

Fume Blanc Bottling Line Video

Oxygen can have a significant impact on wine style. Low oxygen levels typically lead to wines displaying elevated fresh fruit attributes, an absence of developed characters, and a tendency to form undesirable reduced characters. On the other hand, too much oxygen can lead to subdued fresh fruit characters, the development of stewed and cooked fruit along with other developed attributes, the absence of reduced characters and the early onset of undesirable oxidised attributes.

Oxygen’s impact is so dramatic that the same wine exposed to slightly different oxygen levels at and after bottling can result in completely distinct wines.

Controlling oxygen levels at bottling is also important because oxygen can cause the onset of wine faults and also determines wine shelf life.

(Australian Wine Research Institute, AWRI)

So, all of the wines were bottled yesterday except for the Shiraz. Why? Because we were sent the wrong bottles! See why it’s important for Rob to triple check everything? The correct bottles should be arriving tomorrow, so the Shiraz will go “down the line” (a bit of technical talk for you there, you may borrow it if you wish!) then.  But, there is a silver lining to every cloud…  as Rob didn’t need to stay on to oversee the bottling of the Shiraz, this gave him just enough time to zip home to Hahndorf to get ready to join his lovely wife, Heather at the one and only Adelaide Festival show they had booked for this year (of course it HAD to coincide with the busiest week in the winery!). Phew!

“Awwww”… I hear you all say, “what a lovely end to a hectic day”. Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t the end of the day for Rob. After the show, he got a call from the winery to let him know that the pinot noir for Sparkling had been pressed. So, off to the winery, he goes…

The beginning of vintage 2018…

If you’ve tried Rob’s wines, then you don’t need me to tell you that he’s pretty picky about the styles of wine he makes. This means that he needs to be very picky about the fruit he uses. While Rob has great relationships with growers of all the fruits which goes into the productions of Somerled wines, he has never locked himself into any contracts with these growers. And our first story of vintage 2018 is a perfect example of why he doesn’t.

By the time the pinot was picked and pressed, the Baumé (take a look at last week’s post for a review of what this is and why it’s important) was slightly higher than Rob would like it to be. These things happen. So, instead of compromising and producing a style of Sparkling wine that just isn’t Somerled, Rob has agreed to take only half of the 4 tonnes of fruit that was picked and to use this instead, for our Rosé. And what a beautiful Rosé it’s going to be!

Disappointingly, we’re going to miss out on a 2018 vintage of the sparkling, BUT, never fear… we have healthy stocks of other vintages which will see us through.

It’s now 2am and Rob can finally put, what we hope will be the busiest day of vintage 2018, behind him. But, in this unpredictable business, who knows? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out…!