Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heathcote & Jasper Hill Winery

On Tuesday morning, I called Jasper Hill to see if they were harvesting grapes, and fortunately for me they had decided to wait until Thursday. Therefore, they gave me driving directions from Melbourne and I passed through a beautiful country-side of rolling hills, eucalyptus and huge rock formations. Arriving in Heathcote – part of the Goldfields Country of Victoria – I was charmed by the little town and the Visitor’s Center. They provided a winery map and I was easily able to make my way to Jasper Hill where Emily, Ron, and Elva met me and provided a wonderful tour.

We started with their amazing house which they had built themselves by making mud bricks from the soil. We then ventured into the vineyards with the precious red Cambrian soil and the very tasty Shiraz grapes on single wire trellising. All farming was biodynamic, and they even sprayed with milk to prevent powdery mildew. A very impressive vineyard. We tasted the grapes and it was obvious that they were almost ready to harvest.

Next we headed into the winery and tasted the two famous wines: Georgia’s Paddock and Emily’s Paddock. The wines lived up to their reputation – being both powerful yet elegant, and showing terroir characteristics of mineral and mint. Both fruit and oak were restrained, but concentration of flavor was very high, and balanced well with the naturally high acids and velvety tannins. Emily, following in her father footsteps as a winemaker, also let me taste her shiraz, Occam’s Razor, which was fruity and delightful. Ron then walked me through the complete wine-making process, with the most amazing part for me being the fact that the grapes undergo maceration for at least 6 weeks – which explains the excellent concentration of flavor, color, and velvety tannins. It was a truly remarkable visit with an inspiring wine family.

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