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Wine

Behind The Vine At Helen's Hill

To celebrate the Helen's Hill Ingram Road Pinot Noir 2015 being our April Wine of the Month, we caught up with Allan Nalder from Helen's Hill.

What makes the Ingram Road 2015 Pinot Noir so appealing?

To answer that I need to take a step back. All of our wines are 100% single vineyard and are all made at my winery. Only fruit that we grow on our vineyard goes into the wines that we make. It's not that we don't trust anyone, it's just that we don't trust anyone. We think this is super important. Come visit and I can take you to the very vines that make the wine you are going to enjoy. Call us "control freaks". I'll take it as a compliment.

The Ingram Rd 2015 Pinot Noir benefits greatly from this approach. Pristine Yarra Valley single vineyard fruit, French oak maturation, careful "hands-off" winemaking and a great vintage all combine to produce a wine that expresses hallmark Pinot Noir characteristics. And its price point is extremely compelling.

You have over 50 acres of Pinot Noir, what makes you so enthusiastic about this often-difficult grape?

You're right, Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and can really only grow well in specific, little tucked away corners of the world. The Yarra Valley, and the little patch of dirt I call home, is one of those places.

It also helps to be a bit of a Pinot Noir fanatic. To me, it is one of the most remarkable red wines in the world. I once saw a quote about Pinot Noir growers from a wine writer:

"its makers are lunatic-fringe, questers after the holy grail…" - Marc de Villiers wine writer.

We fit that mould.

Who is the Helen of the hill?

We bought the property from Mr. Fraser in the mid 90s. He had owned the pasture land from the early 1950s. The reason he bought the land was because he fell in love with a woman called Helen, who wouldn't marry him unless he owned a farm. True love prevailed and he bought the farm. Sadly, Helen passed away some 6-7 years after their marriage. Mr Fraser never re-married and throughout the property inspection, he recalled many stories of Helen and her time there. From his stories, it was obvious that she had a passion for the land. We share that passion and thought it appropriate to name the vineyard after her.

What makes Scott McCarthy a standout winemaker?

To be blunt, the fruit. We live by the very old, well used, but absolutely true saying: "great wine is made in the vineyard". The most important decision we make in the winery is deciding when to pick the fruit. The rest of the process is relatively simple. Pristine quality fruit allows us to rely on natural fermentation, minimal filtering and minimal winemaking intervention. Our ethos is not to describe "perfection" as when there is nothing left to add, but rather, when there is nothing left to take away. We feel this is the key to winemaking. Ensure that we do as little as possible so we can deliver mother nature in the bottle.

You also make a range of beers - why did you decide to go into brewing and what do you think makes a top beer?

It gets pretty hot and sweaty picking grapes. Added to that, I ain't getting any younger, so after a big day in the fields a nice, cold craft beer is a perfect tonic. As winemakers and vignerons go, we drink a lot of beer, so it wasn't that hard to come up with the idea of brewing our own.

Getting the recipe right, the choice of hops and quality malt is critical and keeping the fermentation process under control. The rest depends on what you like. We serve our brews at Cellar Door and luckily our customers reckon they're pretty tasty.

What are the top 3 attractions you'd recommend to a first-time Yarra Valley visitor?

The great thing about the Yarra Valley is the diversity. You can visit the YV Dairy and sample a variety of cheese, the Chocolate Factory, world class art museum, on-farm produce stores for things such as apples, strawberries, etc, 6 top golf courses, mountain biking, bush trails, historic buildings, micro breweries, gin distillery and of course the odd cellar door and vineyard restaurant. The valley really has a huge range of things to do.

Obviously, a great place to start is Helen's Hill. Full al-carte restaurant on top of the hill with sensational views or our Cellar Door and casual dining nestled down in the winery amongst the vines.

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Life
My City Melbourne with Adam D'Sylva
Words by Adam D'Sylva on 13 Oct 2017
Chef Adam D’Sylva, who runs the highly acclaimed Coda and Tonka restaurants reveals the places he likes to eat, drink and be merry in his hometown of Melbourne. Melbourne is without doubt the food capital of Australia. It is buzzing 24/7 with phenomenal culinary offerings, great wine bars and wonderful places to meet friends. For me (right now) it is all about Asian, and there are some gems across the city. The best place to start is the renowned ‘Golden Mile of Food’ in and around Flinders Lane in the CBD. It is here you’ll find my two restaurants (my work life pride and joy), Coda and Tonka , as well as a bunch of fantastic eateries serving delicious food from early breakfast to late night feasts. Cumulus Inc/Supernormal
My first port of call most mornings is Cumulus Inc for the breakfast bacon bap roll with relish – my personal heart starter. Chef Andrew McConnell is a genius and you’ll find lots of great dishes across his many restaurants, including Supernormal  or the wine bar-inspired Cumulus Up. The ricotta dumplings are off the charts (when available), while the nudi version of gnocchi are just sweet pillows of love and I just can’t go past the signature lamb shoulder. Madelines baked to order, rum baba with endless rum. What’s not to like? The One and Only Flower Drum
To enjoy upmarket Chinese with great service, perfectly executed food and an awesome dining room, go to Flower Drum . There is generous space between tables that allows you talk freely and not be part of the conversation on the nearby table. The ‘must have’ dishes are the Peking duck, assembled at the table, as well as an appetiser of the dim sum selection followed by pearl meat. The mud crab and seafood dumpling are also amazing. I always feel like a king when dining there, either for a boys’ lunch or a romantic dinner. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday there with a magnificent lunch that somehow (too easily) progressed all the way through to an early dinner. Great times. Trunk call
Trunk restaurant and bar is a funky beer garden, and a great place to catch up with friends, grab a bite to eat or even just take a break for a quick coffee. An oasis amongst the laneways of Melbourne, Trunk’s main dining room serves fresh and fragrant flavours of the Middle East and Mediterranean flavours. The beer garden is great for catching up for drinks after work or dropping past for a bite and the cheeky beer during the day. I like it so much, I got married there. Pacific House - Quick and Easy For a cheap and cheerful Chinese that you can BYO, go to Pacific House , either in Richmond or Toorak. Consistent and affordable food including bullet proof Peking duck, soy chicken, crispy pork belly and whole steamed fish of many varieties from the live tanks. I Love Pho For the cleanest, tastiest pho, I Love Pho is a twice-a-week ritual for breakfast for me. I’m there when it opens at 9am for a hot aromatic broth with Thai basil and heaps of fresh chilli to kick start the day. Groceries at Minh Phat While down Victoria Street Richmond, one of my favourite places to shop for Asian groceries is Minh Phat. It has everything you need. New Bar
Owned and run by the famous Grossi family, Arlechin is a new hot wine bar serving late night supper and snacks. A world class cocktail list is curated by Joe Jones of Romeo Lane and Tonka fame. I like to dine upstairs at Grossi Florentino then pop round the back for an after-dinner drink at Arlechin. Tried and True For a romantic night, enjoy one of the cosiest dining rooms in the city at Il Bacaro in Little Collins Street. An institution for over 20 years, it has service that’s always impeccable and never fails to impress. An old favourite Out St Kilda way, Café Di Stasio is an institution and a place for all occasions. Top service with food to match. Stay and play For an overnight stay when heading to the city or coming from interstate, Crown Towers is the perfect port of call. Luxury at its finest. Fantastic spa treatments and a range of excellent restaurants. Get away and relax
There are lots of parks and great spots by the Yarra to relax, but when I want to get away from it all, I head down the coast to the Mornington Peninsula , which I do on a weekly basis to have a hit a golf. After a quick round, I like to ease all the pain (from slicing all day) with a relaxing dip at Peninsula Hot Springs , natural outdoor thermal springs, before kicking back for the night at Polperro Winery . Their luxurious villas are stunning with open fire places – perfect for sipping winemaker Sam Coverdale’s world class Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Merchant and Maker in McCrae is the place for breakfast, the donuts are to die for. Their coffee is the best on the Peninsula and their short blacks are accompanied with a shot of sparkling mineral water. Nice touch.
Wine
Meet Ninth Island Winemaker Luke Whittle
To celebrate the Ninth Island Pinot Grigio 2016 from the Tamar Valley being the November Wine of the Month, we caught up with winemaker Luke Whittle to talk Tasmania, cool climate wines, and Pinot G . You are originally from New Zealand where you started your winemaking career, plus you’ve done vintages in Canada, Germany and Central Victoria –  what drew you to Tasmania? Ultimately, my passion to get back to cool climate wines, and Tasmania’s reputation for amazing wines and produce. I see a huge amount of potential for the Tasmanian wine industry as the region continues to produce world-class Sparkling and table wines and grow its reputation both domestically and abroad. I think the next decade will be a very exciting time for the industry here and I want to be a part of that future. What makes the Tamar Valley such a special region? The unique maritime climate, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds resulting in consistency of ripening.  We’re situated on a beautiful big sweeping bend of the Tamar, which is not only an amazing place for grapes, but a beautiful setting for a vineyard with vine covered slopes rolling down to the water. It’s like a scene from an old-world region in Europe with a distinctly Tasmanian twist. Our Wine of the Month is the Ninth Island 2016 Pinot Grigio – what is it about cool climate wines that you like so much? In a word: elegance ­–  the way they are so fresh and expressive yet full of finesse. In our food and wine matching calendar, we’ve paired it with a quick chicken cassoulet with preserved lemon – what’s your choice of food partner? Coming from the coast of NZ, I’m really drawn to the amazing bounty of seafood here in Tasmania, and I love freediving. So combining those passions, I’d pair it with fresh barbeque crayfish and wasabi aioli, especially with the opening of the crayfish season just around the corner. What makes cool climate wines like Pinot G so food-friendly? The cool climate acidity lends itself to so many possibilities, especially when combined with the Pinot Grigios texture and delicate but expressive aromatics. What’s your favourite wine memory? The next one… Other than your own wine, what wine do you like to drink at home? I like to mix it up. Recently it’s been Riesling, especially some of the dryer style Rieslings out of Germany, something I fell in love with over my time working in the Mosel and the Pfalz. What are your three top recommendations for a first-time visitor to the area? Hit the incredible Tasmanian coastline! I’d suggest to go up to the top end of the east coast, where you’ll find no crowds, and amazingly beautiful beaches. The Tamar Valley Wine Route, which we are a part of – the perfect way to sample a number of delicious Tassie wines.   Head into Launceston to Stillwater Restaurant. The menu features Tasmanian produce and they’re known for an incredible wine list highlighting Tasmanian wine. What’s your favourite … Way to spend time off? In the ocean. Holiday destination? Whangamata, my hometown, for a dose of NZ summer. Wine and food match? Pinot and duck… it just needs to happen Sporting team? All Blacks (of course) Movie?   Anchorman – one of the classics
Wine
Claymore – 20 years of hits
Esteemed Clare Valley producer, Claymore Wines, is celebrating 20 years of premium winemaking this September with the release of their iconic Joshua Tree Riesling. Alongside his family, Claymore’s founder and owner Anura Nitchingham has three great loves in his life – wine, music and football – and he celebrates all of them with Claymore Wines . As a young medical student in Liverpool, UK, Anura became a fan of one of the sport’s greatest ever football teams, Liverpool FC. Sitting in the stands at Anfield, he couldn’t imagine that one day he would have an exclusive relationship with the world famous club. After a successful medical career, Anura had the great fortune to find his way to one of South Australia’s most renowned wine region, the Clare Valley , to start Claymore Wines over two decades ago. Today, his range of award-winning wines includes Liverpool FC-related drops, such as, the Robbie Fowler Signature Shiraz , the You’ll Never Walk Alone Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc and the This is Anfield Sparkling . Music in a bottle From the very start of Claymore, Anura has also entwined his love of music by naming his wines after his favourite songs and albums. Wines such as the Bittersweet Symphony Cabernet Sauvignon , the London Calling Cabernet Malbec , and the Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc, resonate beyond their time and across generations – very much like the songs they are named after. And, along with bringing a fun vibe to wine, naming wines after songs has struck a chord with music lovers, who form an immediate understanding and sentimental attachment to their favourite varietals. “It allows us to have a more personal conversation with the customer,” says Claymore’s General Manager, Carissa Major. “People come to our cellar door, pick up a Bittersweet Symphony Cabernet and say, ‘this is from my generation, I get it’.” Time to celebrate In 2018, Claymore celebrates 20 years with two wines that have stood the test of time – the Joshua Tree Riesling and Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz (which will be released in the coming years). U2’s classic album The Joshua Tree contained a plethora of great hits including Where the Streets Have No Name , With or With You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For . With the Joshua Tree Riesling, wine lovers will find stunningly beautiful expression of Riesling, that resonates almost as much as these amazing tunes. The Clare Valley is renowned as the home of Riesling in Australia and the Joshua Tree is one of the region’s best examples with vintage after vintage consistently producing a wine boasting lime and savoury spice aromas, a tight, fresh palate punctuated with delicious citrus flavours and all held in place with seamless, balanced acidity. The 2018 is no exception, a simply wonderful wine that is befitting of a 20 year celebration.
Evolution in the winery Coinciding with their 20-year anniversary, Claymore Wines are also pleased to announce that they have a new Chief Winemaker in Nathan Norman. An eighth-generation winemaker who grew up on in the region on his grandfather’s vineyard at Angle Vale, Nathan spent his formative years at Peter Lehman Wines before vintages in far flung corners such as Sicily, Spain and England. He returned to the  Barossa Valley to work with Tin Shed Wines and then at Claymore as assistant winemaker under the expert guidance of Marnie Roberts. With Marnie moving on to pursue her own venture, Nathan is excited to be able to imprint his personality to the Claymore Wine range as Chief Winemaker, particularly in this celebratory stage of the Claymore Wines story. “Winemaking is something that is in my blood,” says Nathan. “My dad, my brother, my sister, my grandad – it’s a family thing.” “To be here in the Clare Valley, the Riesling capital of the world; I wouldn’t have it any other way!”  The 2018 Joshua Tree Riesling is released in September. For more details on the Claymore range and special 20-year celebrations, visit claymorewines.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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