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).

Quiet excitement for our 2018 wines…

If you’re lucky enough to have met Rob, you’ll know that he is understated and unlikely to exaggerate his impressions. He’ll happily enough acknowledge that his wines are (more than) “drinkable”, but you won’t find him banging on about it!

That’s why his latest update from the winery has got me very excited! Read between the lines with me and you’ll discover we’re going to have an outstanding line-up of wines from vintage 2018.

Let’s have a look at Rob’s report from the winery today in his own words, with a translation here and there from me (which may or may not reflect the stated views of the winemaker!)…

Report on visit to Lodestone Winery – 24 May, 2018

Looked at all the wines and happy with all of them.

(See what I mean by understated?! Happy = ecstatic)

Sauvignon Blanc

Still cloudy in the tank, but the colour is great (awesome) – pale, with some of those nice green tints that reflect the early picking and really nice (top quality) fruit.

The nose is very delicate – slightly herbaceous rather the floral.  The palate is crisp. Too crisp for drinking at this stage, but we’ll be chilling the wine to ensure cold stability next week, and that will ease back the acid level.

Cold stabilisation

In some bottles of wine you may see a small deposit of crystals, particularly if the bottle has been stored in the refrigerator. These deposits are tartrate crystals – a natural part of the wine; they precipitate out under cold conditions. They are not harmful, however most consumers prefer their wine to be perfectly clear (particularly white wine).

To ensure this winemakers will, after fermentation, chill the wine and hold it at about minus 3 degrees Celsius to precipitate all or most of the unstable tartrate crystals before the wine is bottled.

Flavours are delicate too, but with a nice lingering finish. (The 2018 version of this Somerled favourite is going to be delicious, as usual!)

Fumé Blanc


Fume Blanc and sauvignon blanc samples
Notice the difference in colour between the Fume Blanc (on the left) and the Sauvignon Blanc (on the right)

Already darker in colour than the “standard” Sauvignon Blanc. This is due to its time in the barrel, with colour from the oak showing up.  Seeing as it has had only a short time in barrel, it’s impressive (high praise indeed!) to see that extra colour and even more so to see the enriching of the aromas and flavours.  The malolactic fermentation has influenced the nose and palate in a very nice way so that the wine is already starting to show complexity and interest (damn, this wine is going to be great! …or something like that).  It’s being stirred on a fortnightly basis.  This stirs up the lees from the bottom of the barrel, helping to develop a fuller texture and flavour.  It helps the bacteria to keep going too, as the malolactic fermentation hasn’t finished yet.



This is showing colour development too! (exclamation marks?! He must really be excited!) It’s even a bit deeper than the Fumé, and with really nice tints.  The nose is quite full, and the ongoing malolactic fermentation is adding such a nice (delightful) extra lift to the nose – almost a maturity to it.

The palate has quite a dense flavour and it really lingers.  There are some nice oak aromas and flavours, and it’s almost savoury rather than fruity.  It’s going really well (OMG… Heather is going to love this!).

Pinot Rosé

Pale and very dry as all good rosés should be.  It’s not showing a great deal in the way of malolactic fermentation (MLF) influence – aromas and flavours are still “pinot fruit” without strong complexing effect from the MLF.  But that will come.  We’ll have an update on the progress of the MLF tomorrow.  It’s still very crisp, so further MLF will be ideal to soften it up!!

Pinot Dry Red

This is looking very nice indeed.  It’s all the way through MLF and sulphur dioxide has been added, as previously reported.  It’s still quite cloudy so it will be pumped out of barrel into a tank and settled for a bit, then racked back into washed out barrels.  The barrels will, apart from one new one, all be well matured, as we don’t want too much oak to show through. The nose is showing that lovely young pinot perfume that will get more prominent as it sits in barrel. I think that as the wine becomes clearer and less cloudy, those aromas will float up more easily.  The palate is surprisingly rich for a pinot and has almost a sweetness about it, even though the residual sugar in the wine is negligible.  It could be our best pinot dry red yet, as I think I’ve already said!! (more exclamation marks! Boy, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen rob THIS excited!)


Back by popular demand!

Paella paired with a glass of Tempranillo = match made in heaven!

Serving lunch at our next Harvest day on Sunday, June 3 and this time we’re supporting Catherine House – Support for Women Experiencing Homelessness and we’d love you to bring any of the following items:

  • liquid body-wash
  • facial cleanser
  • facial moisturiser
  • hair colour
  • sunscreen
  • deodorant spray.

We’ll then deliver our stash to Catherine House who will distribute them to women in need – these simple items will make a big difference.

Lunch $25 – Click here to book
Have a look at the Catherine House wish list here.

Our young wines are growing up…

While the hustle and bustle of vintage is finally settling down, there is still plenty of important working going on in the winery. Rob is busy preparing his ‘babies’ for the next stage of their development (and no, he doesn’t have a favourite!).

Let’s take a look a closer look…

Sauvignon Blanc (in tank)

This wine has now been confirmed in the lab as “sugar dry”. That means that fermentation is complete.  Therefore, it is now ready to “rack” (which will happen over the coming week) and a small amount of protective sulphur dioxide will be added.

Whoa… wait up! That’s a lot of technical terms to throw at you in one paragraph. Let’s just take a minute to look at these in more detail.

Sugar Dry:  This just means that all of the fermentable sugars (being glucose and fructose) are below 1 g/L (or 0.1%). There comes a point in the fermentation that measuring the Baumé is no longer sensitive enough to determine the point when the fermentation has stopped, and the wine is considered dry. That is when the laboratory needs to use much more specific tests such as enzymatic assays or High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC for short, because let’s face it, that’s a mouthful!).

Racking: racking a white wine simply means to move it from the tank it was fermented in (with all the lees and sediment at the bottom of it) to a fresh, clean vessel. Particularly with a wine like Sauvignon Blanc, you don’t want to leave it on this sediment for too long after the completion of fermentation as this starts to affect the taste of the finished wine.

Sulphur Dioxide (or SO2): Let’s come back to this.

Chardonnay (in barrel)

This wine is also dry, so Rob is happy to add the malolactic bacteria now. He’ll then give it a good stir and top up the barrels to ensure there is very little space at the very top. The more space, the more oxygen in the barrel which has the potential to cause oxidation.

If you missed the question on last week’s blog post about why Rob prefers to wait until the end of fermentation to add the MLF bacteria, then here is the answer…

“There’s a feeling that adding MLF bugs while the yeast fermentation is still finishing (and residual sugar still in the wine), may lead to acetic acid (VA) production. Since there’s no great rush to get MLF started, we’d prefer not to take that chance!”

Fumé Blanc (in barrel)

This is also dry and will now be treated in the same way as the Chardonnay

Pinot Rosé (in tank)

Again, this one has also finished fermentation and is considered dry. It’s also ready for some MLF bacteria to be added. Seeing this wine doesn’t spend any time in barrel, and the malolactic fermentation process will happen in a tank, Rob will need to transfer this to a tank that is just big enough for the volume of wine and then top it up to make sure the amount of space in the tank is at a minimum… just like the barrels for the Chardonnay and Fume.

Pinot Dry Red (in barrel)

The Pinot has been dry for a while now. At least one of the barrels has already finished malolactic fermentation. Rob will give it a couple more days before he gets the lab to take a representative sample of all of the individual barrels to check if all of the barrels have finished. If they have finished, then he’ll rack them and add a small amount of sulphur dioxide and top them up.

Racking a wine in barrel is essentially the same process as for wines in tank. The wine is siphoned off into a tank, the barrels are then cleaned out with a high pressure hose to remove all the sediment and residue and the wine is then returned to the barrels.

At this stage, the wines are really quite fragile. That’s why it is super important to keep oxygen away from the wines by ensuring the containers are absolutely full. This means periodically checking all the barrels and topping them up as necessary.

So, what’s the story with sulphur dioxide?

Without opening an enormous can of worms, let’s briefly have a chat about the role of SO2 in wine production.

Sulphur dioxide has been used in winemaking for many years. There is talk of the Egyptians and Romans using it, but there hasn’t been any conclusive proof of that.

Sulphur dioxide is a unique compound which inhibits microbial activity and aids in preventing oxidation and therefore is commonly used for maintaining the wine in prime condition.

It can be added to the bins in which the grapes are harvested and transported to the winery, to the juice prior to fermentation and, most commonly, to the wine after fermentation and during storage.

Sulphur dioxide is added in very small amounts and is considered harmless to most consumers. A small proportion of people can be sensitive to sulphur dioxide. In these cases though, it is important to remember that sulphur dioxide is actually naturally produced by yeast during the fermentation process. Therefore, some sulphur dioxide will be present in all wines even if it has not been added.

Do you have any questions or comments about adding sulphur to wine? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


A real life look…

Tasting event with Rob Moody at Somerled Cellar Bar

Last weekend Rob shared tank and barrel samples of our 2018 wines at an exclusive tasting event at the cellar bar. A fun and educational session ensued!

These young unfinished wines were presented along-side their counterparts currently being poured at the cellar bar. This gave us the opportunity to compare what they smell and taste like at this very early stage to when they are ready to be released (and more importantly, drunk!).

“But, why would I want to taste an unfinished wine?” I hear you ask?

Well, if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing there is a fair chance you enjoy learning more about wine and the wine-making process. On the surface, wine-making may look as simple as getting some grape juice, adding some yeast and letting it do its thing. And that would probably work… if you’re not interested in making a good wine!

The key to making an exceptional wine is in the skill of the winemaker. Experts like Rob are able to look at these young wines and not only predict, but manage how they will develop. Even as far back as when the grapes are on the vine, Rob tastes the grapes and will assess the primary fruit characters of the juice. Now that fermentation has begun (and in some cases, finished), Rob is now looking at the developed fruit characters and figuring out how to enhance the ones he wants to show in the finished product.

It’s a delicate process… one which would be beyond many of us (or we’d all be excellent winemakers like Rob!), but it is fun to see if you can pick up some of those flavors that Rob so expertly identifies.

Primary fruit flavours and aromas come from the type of grape and/or the environment in which it grows. They are responsible for the distinctive aroma and flavour sensations of wines made from those grapes. Each variety of grape has its own set of varietal characters and its own pattern in which these change during ripening. This is referred to as the primary fruit spectrum. For example, Sauvignon Blanc can be described as herbaceous or grassy in the early stages of ripening, whereas later in the ripening stage the aromas and flavours more often resemble tropical fruit. This spectrum is specific to Sauvignon Blanc.

Developed fruit characters (or secondary flavours and aromas) are derived via the fermentation process. This process interacts with the primary fruit characters to produce more developed flavours and aromas such as: yeast, bread, creamy, caramel, nougat, truffle (to name just a few).

There are also tertiary characters which come from the aging process (in barrel and bottle). They can include: vanilla, coconut, dried fruit, coffee and chocolate (yum!).

So, what did they taste like?

Sauvignon BlancSauvignon Blanc (ex-stainless steel tank): The aroma was at the tropical fruits end of the spectrum (think rockmelon and passionfruit). That’s because although the Adelaide Hills is classified as cool climate, Kim’s vineyard has an east facing aspect. The fruit takes on these attractive tropical flavours – rather than gooseberry, herbaceous notes. The young wine was still fizzy (see photo) as the ferment wasn’t complete at that stage, but not far off. This will be replaced with a crispness in the finished wine. As you can see, it was cloudy. Careful racking, fining and filtering will take care of that.

Fumé Blanc (ex-French oak barrels): While similar to the Sauvignon Blanc, it was already showing some textural difference due to the influence of the oak, There was also just a touch of oak aroma showing up already, even though it was barely a week in barrel then.

ChardonnayChardonnay (ex-French oak barrels):  Aromas of citrus (like grapefruit). It already exhibits its hallmark mouthfeel (think of that lovely creamy feeling you get with a good glass of chardy!) Its richness may be partly due to the bit of sugar which is still fermenting out. It’s certainly heading down the right track though.

 Rose Pinot NoirRosé (ex-stainless steel tank): Looked like pink grapefruit juice, but had those lovely strawberry flavours we all love in this wine.  It looked sweet compared with the 2017, but it will be quite dry by the time it gets to bottle.


Pinot Noir

Pinot (ex-French Oak barrels): The colour of this wine in progress was intense (see picture). Nice deep dark crimson and a full body. Rob is very excited about this one!  He particularly likes the clean perfumed and spiced aromas and already quite rich flavours. It’s big compared with the 2016 and 2017, but is already soft.

NOTE: the French oak barrels above have already been used for 2016, then 2017 wines. It will still impart some gentle spicy aromas and flavours without being too overpowering.

Missed out on the tasting last weekend?

Make sure you join our mailing list (if you’re not already on it) and check your emails for upcoming events… there will be plenty more throughout the year.

And I know I keep banging on about it, but there ARE some surprises in store for our interstate followers. Watch this space!

A quick update from the winery this week…

A very quiet week in the winery as we wait for the ferments to finish. They are all going well. The Sauvignon Blanc is pretty well there, so that will be racked in the coming week. The Chardonnay and Fumé very close. No malolactic bacteria has been added to these yet… not until the primary fermentation is completely finished.

Rob is really impressed with each of the wines confirming his thoughts that this is another EXCELLENT vintage!



… but wait, there’s more!

Last week, we talked about primary fermentation and the role of yeast in turning that deliciously sweet grape juice into wine. But that’s not the end of the story.

Rob is also a big fan of a secondary fermentation called Malolactic fermentation (or MLF). While this bacterial fermentation occurs naturally for most red wines, it is also a handy tool in the production of some white wines.

Let’s find out why…

What is MLF?

Malolactic fermentation is a secondary bacterial fermentation which often occurs naturally after the completion of primary fermentation. It can also be induced by inoculation with a selected bacterial strain. Oenococcus oeni, a member of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) family, and is the main bacterium responsible for conducting MLF. This strain is chosen due to its ability to survive the harsh conditions of wine (high alcohol, low pH and low nutrients) and its production of desirable wine sensory attributes.
MLF is crucial to microbiologically stabilise most red wines. MLF removes the malic acid in wine that can be a carbon source for yeast and bacterial growth, leading to spoilage, spritz and unwanted flavours.

(Source: AWRI)

MLF can also be conducted in some wines to influence wine style, which is what Rob like to do with our Fumé Blanc, Chardonnay and Rosé.

In addition to the important conversion of the harsh malic acid to softer lactic acid, MLF is associated with a broad range of other metabolic processes that impact on a wine’s sensory profile. Wine aroma and flavour are affected by volatile compounds, while non-volatile compounds influence the palate or mouth-feel of wine. Sensory terms such as ‘buttery’, ‘vanilla-like’, ‘nutty’, ‘spicy’, ‘fruity’, ‘vegetative’, ‘toasty’, ‘fuller’ and ‘rounded’ are used to describe MLF influences on wine.

You’ll definitely hear a few of these terms used when describing the Fumé, Chardy and Rosé!

(Source: AWRI)

Update from the winery

Chardonnay and the Fumé Blanc are both now in barrel, while they finish the last of the primary fermentation. The Fume is very nearly complete (with the Baumé now below zero), while the Chardonnay is still at around 2.2 Baumé at last check (on Wednesday).

Pinot Noir Rosé is at 1.6 Baumé.  This fermentation has been nice and steady, which is exactly what a wine-maker hopes for. Rob expects that will continue right the way through to the completion.

Why does the ferment need to progress steadily?

If the fermentation happens too quickly, then the temperature of the ferment increases. High temeperatures can encourage oxidation, microbiological spoilage and instability. It can also deplete the desirable aroma and flavour compounds, as well as alcohol. Above 38 degrees celcius, the yeast becomes “sluggish” and the fermentation may become “stuck” with residual sugar.

With a slow fermentation, there is a risk that the fermentation process will stop altogether, with the colder temperatures killing the yeast. The only option then is to reinoculate the ferment with more yeast to start the process again. This also interferes with the aroma and flavour of the wine. Also, the risk of oxidation is very high.

(Source: Making Good Wine, B. Rankine)

Sauvignon Blanc in tank is slowing up a bit. At last check, the Baumé was at 1.1. It is still moving slowly though, so Rob’s not concerned that it will stop. He may need to give it a bit of a stir though, to get the yeast up off the bottom of the tank and doing what they’re supposed to do!

Pinot Noir dry red in barrel has finished fermentation. It is lovely and dry!

So, what happens next…?

All these wines (except for the Sauvignon Blanc in tank) will be inoculated with the malolactic bacteria to start the secondary fermentation. This won’t happen though until all the sugar in each of the wines has been fermented.  This is because there is always a risk of acetic acid production when bacteria are added in the presence of sugar.  Once the bacteria are added, it takes a while for them to get going. So watch this space!


“But I want to see (and taste) all of this in real life!”

Well, you can!

There are still a couple of seats left at our next tasting event on Sunday (April 8, 11am – 1.30pm)!

Meet Somerled’s Newest Wines: Rob Moody and the entertaining Hugh Armstrong pair up again, bringing you so much knowledge and behind the scenes secrets when it comes to winemaking. They’ll pour these in-process Somerled wines to hold up against our current vintages and – as always – will pour a special wine for you at the end with commentary from Rob! All presented with a sumptuous platter luncheon including Manchego, terrine, pate, crusty French loaves, locally churned butter and all manner of sides. $65pp includes luncheon, book here.

And so it begins…

Vintage 2018 that is! Even though a few wineries in the region have seen the first fruit picked and into the press this week, we still have at least a couple of weeks to wait. Rob sources the grapes for his wines (except the Shiraz) from some of the highest vineyards in the Hills… it’s for this reason that it takes a little longer for vintage to be well and truly underway for Somerled.

Early veraison in pinot noir grapes at Paul Henschke's vineyardThat said, there is still plenty happening…

At Paul Henschke’s vineyard in Summertown, where Rob will get the Pinot Noir for our Sparkling and Rosé, we’re only just seeing the first signs of veraison in some of the younger vines (see photo). At this stage it won’t be picked until the second week of March.

Things are a little more advanced in Charleston at Kim Anderson’s vineyard. Veraison is close to 100% in the Sauvignon Blanc (this will be used for the Fumé as well), the Chardonnay is at around 50% and Pinot Noir (for our dry red) is somewhere between the two… in short, lots and lots of fully coloured berries, but low in sugar and high in acid. Still a little way to go, although Kim will do the sugar level test on samples of the fruit on Monday next week.

For a recap on what veraison is, visit our post here.

Even though we’ve had some hideously hot weather of late, the nights have been nice and cool (down to 5 degrees some nights!)… this is a bonus for grape flavour and wine quality as it minimises the overall stress on the vine.

Another positive for this vineyard is that it’s looking really healthy. How do we know? Well, there are a couple of telltale sign of a healthy vineyard…

Pest free – There is no sign of Light Brown Apple Moth or scale insects

Insect pests are luckily quite uncommon in Australian vineyards but the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) caterpillar, a native, can feed on the young berries, leaving scars for bunch rot fungi to enter the fruit.

Scale insects are sap suckers which also produce a honey dew which is the favourite food of sooty moulds, damaging the fruit.

Beneficial insects – There are really high populations of beneficial insects such as the Trichogramma wasps, lacewings, ladybirds etc.

Beneficial insects are the species which prey on the pest species eg LBAM and scale, keeping the pest numbers below the damaging levels.

Disease free – The vineyard is free from powdery mildew.

Grapevine powdery mildew, caused by the fungus Erysiphe necator, is a common fungal disease which can render the vine leaves dysfunctional. It slows photosynthesis and it reduces yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wines.

The canes and leaves of the vine (collectively termed the ‘canopy’) also give us an indication of overall health. Ideally the shoots have stopped elongating by this stage. However the youngest leaves must remain green and active so that the energy is directed towards moving sugars and all the lovely flavour precursor compounds towards the fruit which form the basis for what we’ll be tasting in the finished product. The older leaves have done their work by now and it’s ok to see a few of these yellow; after all they did emerge back in September!

We need your help!

We are very close to launching a new initiative for our friends who don’t live in Adelaide or who are unable to visit us at the Cellar Bar when we run special events.

How would you like to be involved in tastings run by Rob and special guests from the comfort of your own home, surrounded by your friends and family (or on your own if you ‘re like me and don’t like sharing!) and some delicious wines?

Sounds too good to be true right? Wrong!

Our first “Virtual tasting” will be available to you very soon, but in the meantime, we’d like you to have a think about what topics you’d like to see pop up throughout the year. Would you like to see a comparative look at Shiraz across different regions? What about a vertical Chardonnay tasting?

We’d love to hear your suggestions… so please leave us a comment below.

And for any suggestion which becomes a tasting, we’ll dedicate it to you! That’s right… It will be forever known as the “John Smith Somerled Shiraz vs Penfolds Grange comparative tasting”! PS. This particular tasting may cost you a little extra…