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!

What next for the 2015 Shiraz?

The 2015 Shiraz is currently being prepped for bottling and will be ready for your glass….. mid-2019. Ok, ok, I know it’s a way off yet, but this little beauty needs a lot of love and care before it’s ready to drink. Let’s a have a closer look at what is happening behind the scenes.

Rob Moody, Somerled winemaker, pictured in the barrel hallSo, a couple of weeks ago you would have read that the 2015 Shiraz has been in barrel for well over two and a half years. It has now been racked out of those barrels for the last time and is sitting in tank waiting for the next steps in the process.

Step 1: Fining

Firstly, a specific quantity of fining agent will be added to the tank to bind all the unwanted compounds in the wine together in clumps so they sink to the bottom of the tank.

The purpose of adding a fining agent to wine is to soften or reduce its astringency and/or bitterness; remove proteins capable of haze formation; or reduce colour by the adsorption and precipitation of polymeric phenols and tannins (in white wines). The fining agent reacts with wine components either chemically or physically, to form a new complex that can separate from the wine (Australian Wine Research Institute)

Commonly-used fining agents include…

  • Gelatine
  • Isinglass (derived from fish!)
  • Egg albumen
  • Casein
  • Skim Milk
  • Bentonite
  • Carbon
  • Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP)

Rob Moody in the lab with the Somerled 2015 ShirazThis is a photo of a very serious looking Rob in the winery last week trying to decide which fining agent to use on the Shiraz. The quantity and type of agent used can cause subtle changes in the structure and taste of a wine.  Although Rob adores the 15 Shiraz as is, he did wonder if it needed a little softening on the tannins. So, in the lab, he compared samples using 50 parts per million (ppm) of gelatin, 100 ppm gelatin and one using PVPP against the standard to come up with the right one for the job. The sample using 100 ppm gelatin was the winner – the tannins were softened nicely and the middle palate became a lot rounder and softer, without damaging any other characters of the wine.

Step 2: Cold stabilisation

Have you ever drunk a wine and found what looks like shards of glass in the bottom of the bottle or, even worse, your glass? Well, don’t freak out… it’s not glass, but completely harmless and natural tartrate crystals which can form when a wine hasn’t been properly temperature stabilised. They are scientifically known as potassium bitartrate, but if you’re a whizz in the kitchen you might also know them as cream of tartar!

Tartrates occur in wines when potassium and tartaric acid, both naturally occurring products of grapes, bind together to form a crystal. They are a normal bi-product of a wine as it ages, but cold temperatures (usually below around 4 degrees Celsius) can make them naturally combine with potassium to form a crystal.

The way to avoid this happening is to force this process in the winery before bottling. The tank is chilled down so far that ice forms on the outside and the tartrates form and sink to the bottom.

Step 3: Filtration

So, now that we have all these clumps (!) and crystals in the wine, what to do with them?

The final step in the process is to pass the wine through a filter on its way to the bottling line. This will remove all those unwanted particles and leave us with a beautifully clean wine, ready to be enjoyed by you…… in a year or so. But, hey! We have plenty of 2013 (and the 2014 still to come) to keep us going until then.

It should also be pointed out that the removal of these tiny fractions adds to the remarkable cellaring potential of Rob’s wines. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to sip on a 1998 Shiraz that Rob made and it definitely did NOT taste like a 20 year old wine! So, not only will we be enjoying Rob’s 2013 Shiraz at the cellar bar this weekend but also for years to come (if we can hang onto it for that long!).

Looking for something to do this weekend? If you’re in Adelaide and would like to see what the 2015 will taste like this time next year, we have a few bottles of 2014 that we’ll open for tasting at the Cellar Bar in Handorf. Mention this post for your chance to try it before anyone else does!

Stop the presses!

(did you see what I did there?!)

Last week, I explained what was happening with the Sparkling vintages in the pipeline. If you missed it, catch up here.

Since then, Rob has filled us in on some sneaky experimenting he has been doing behind our backs.

Back in 2012 he kept two barrels of 2012 Sparkling aside with the view to adding them to the 2013 – he had the idea that adding slightly aged wine to the sparkling would increase it’s body and complexity. In the end, he only used one of those barrels.

Anyway, the point is, it’s been racked off into bottles and shaken down (to get the lees into the neck ready for disgorging) and now Rob is testing out ideas for it. Watch this space…!

From the winery: barrel update

This week we head into the winery to Robin Moody, Somerled wine maker in the barrel hallhave a look at what’s happening behind the scenes with some of Rob’s creations which he is lovingly nurturing…

  • 2017 Fumé and Chardonnay:  These wines are both looking sensational and will be heading to the bottling line very soon. And a point of interest for the Chardy die-hards among us… a couple of the barrels are already particularly caramelly… yum!
  • 2017 Pinot Noir: Still in barrel and is elegant, with a beautiful structure. It looks light, but the flavours are delicious! It is due for a rack & return and will also be bottled before vintage begins.

Rack and Return is a term which describes the process of pumping the wine out of barrel and then returning it once the barrels have been cleaned and any remaining yeast lees (dead or residual yeast cells) have been removed. This helps to get some air into the wine, keeping it nice and fresh. It also helps to soften the tannins and allows blending of the different barrels for consistency in the bottle.

  • 2015 Shiraz: This particular vintage has now been in barrel for well over two and a half years. It was recently transferred to tank and is now ready for bottling. It looks lovely – beautiful typically Somerled chocolately flavours! It will then spend between one and two years in bottle where it should develop those estery Penfolds-esque characters. Rob likes to move away from his Shiraz being a simple fruit & oak wine to it having much more complexity and interest, which include these interesting aromas. This is also one of the reasons he leaves it barrel for so long, so it has developed some of these already.

So what does “estery” mean exactly? It’s a difficult term to describe and even Rob struggles to define it. Basically it is a compound called ethyl acetate which is produced from a reaction between ethanol and acetic acid. Wines with too much acetic acid are described as having Volatile Acidity (or VA) which, at high levels, is a fault in the wine. However, Penfolds are known for having a small amount of VA in their reds and for Rob this characteristic is very desirable AT LOW LEVELS… just enough so it combines with the other characters of the wine to sort of lift it and add complexity.

So, I guess you could liken it to walking a tight rope… Rob has the skill and finesse to tread this fine line, to ensure the delicate balance is maintained.

  • 2016 Shiraz: Was recently racked and returned but kept in two separate batches due to some slight differences in flavours. If they remain significantly different, and one stands out from the other, this will inform Rob’s decision to blend further down the track. Or not!
  • 2017 Shiraz: Even at this very early stage, the 2017 vintage is looking great with nice intense fruit flavours. This one looks to be yet another fantastic vintage out of McLaren Vale. Watch this space!

Is your favourite Somerled wine Rob’s deliciously rich and smooth Shiraz? Which is your favourite vintage? Let us know in the comments below.


And don’t forget to tune in next week, when we’ll have a chat about our “Trophy-winning” Sparkling Pinot Noir!

Missed last week’s post? Catch up here.