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Wine

Meet Richard Freebairn of Paxton Wines

What was it that drew you to the wine industry?

I grew up on a sheep and cereal grain farm in South East of Western Australia, and I enjoyed the outdoors and hands-on side of farming. However, I love the diversity of winemaking. You can be filling barrels or digging out a ferment one day, and the next hosting a five star dinner in Sydney. Always interesting and great challenges.

You have worked in vineyards all over the country, including the Margaret River, Swan Valley, Sonoma Valley, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley. What is the best thing about working and living in McLaren Vale?

McLaren Vale has it all, I live in Adelaide with my wife and work in the most beautiful wine region five minutes from the ocean and 30 minutes (depending on how you drive) from the city.

What’s your must-do for visitors to McLaren Vale?

BYO picnic basket to our beautiful cellar door surrounded by 1850s stone cottages and rolling green lawns.

What have been some of your highlights of your time at Paxton?

We have won some nice Trophies and received some great James Halliday scores, but I think it is teaching people about Organics and Biodynamics. It is a fantastic way of farming and can really make a big difference to the fruit and especially the wine.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given when it comes to winemaking?

Be patient, wine is not a picture or a snapshot, it is like a movie – always evolving and moving with you. Be patient with wine and enjoy the ride!

Do you have an all-time favourite wine to make? Why is it?

I love making our Pinot Gris, because I don’t use carbon to remove the colour, I use hypoxygenation (basically oxidise it with oxygen). The wine looks so murky and brown all through ferment and stabilisation until one day, generally about three months after harvest, all the brown drops out and you are left with a bright, almost green, hue. It is such a relief!

In 2011 Paxton became a fully certified organic and biodynamic wine producer. Can you tell us more about this certification, what it means, how it is achieved etc.?

We are very proud to be Organic and Biodynamic at Paxton; it gives us a great sense of growing and making for the future. The vines look healthy and the wines have vitality. The certification process takes three years from the dates of application. From that point everything you do must be approved through your certifying body, we are certified through NASAA Certified Organics.

The Paxton Organic MV Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is our Wine of the Month for June – what makes this a standout wine?

The beautiful aroma of winter greens, it is such a fragrant wine. I love smelling this Cabernet Sauvignon. The other great part is the palate, a perfect wine for the colder months. It has power and poise, bright fruit, as well as lovely tannins. A great wine with stews, soups and hearty winter dishes.

What do you do to relax when you’re away from the winery?

I play golf, not so relaxing, but it gets my head out of the winery.

What’s your ultimate wine and food match?

Paxton MV Cabernet Sauvignon, lamb loin chops (from our farm in Western Australia) mashed potato and peas.

What is your favourite…

Movie? The Lion King

Book? Power of One

Time of day? Any time of the day is a great time in McLaren Vale!

Restaurant? Ruby Red Flamingo in North Adelaide.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Wine
Know the difference between organic, biodynamic and vegan wines with this simple guide from Wine Selectors! If you’re an attentive wine lover, you may have noticed an increase in the number of wineries using terms like organic, natural or biodynamic on their labels, or when speaking about their product. These aren’t mere marketing diversions, either. Instead, each term reflects distinctive approaches to winemaking, many of which have emerged in response to a rise in the number of people practicing conscious consumption, and a desire on the part of growers and winemakers to experiment and embrace more sustainable techniques. So, what makes each different from the next? Let’s find out. ORGANIC WINE At its simplest, organic wines are exactly what they sound like – wines produced with organically-grown grapes, free from herbicides, pesticides and other artificial chemical agents. To control for weeds and bugs, growers utilise cover crops to attract benign bugs known to repel the nasties, or have livestock like sheep graze between the rows to reduce weeds. The idea is that the vineyard becomes a self-regulating ecosystem. It doesn’t mean that these wines are free from sulphur or other additives, however – many of which are also organic – but they are often present in lesser quantities.  There are two certifying bodies in Australia that wineries will cite to prove their organic credentials. One is Australian Certified Organic (ACO) , while the other is the National Association or Sustainable Agriculture (NASAA) . Seeing their logo is your assurance that the wine you’re thinking of drinking has passed the requirements for organic classification. They’ve certainly come a long way since they were first introduced to market, with wineries such as the Hunter Valley ’s Tamburlaine turning out award-winning examples of the category. And with younger drinkers in particular choosing organic produce wherever possible, we believe organic wines will only grow in popularity. BIODYNAMIC WINE Not to be confused with organic wine, biodynamic wine is an approach to winemaking that takes inspiration from the work of late 19 th -century spiritual thinker Rudolf Steiner. Like organic wines, growers and winemakers refrain from pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and consider the vineyard as an integrated and holistic system. One key distinction from organic wines however is the use of biodynamic soil ‘supplements’ and astrologically-informed planting, pruning and harvesting schedules. From chamomile and yarrow formulations to cow horns loaded with manure, buried and then dug up again according to specific lunar timings, it’s a blend of solid scientific thinking and inspired mysticism ­­­– with the resulting wines gaining increasing recognition for their quality and varietal expressiveness. Think of it as a supercharged version of organic farming, which is finding more and more fans and proponents of its distinctive approach. PRESERVATIVE-FREE WINE As mentioned above, just because you’re buying an organic wine doesn’t mean it will be preservative-free. For that, you’ll need to seek out a preservative-free wine – often referred to as a wine created through ‘minimal intervention’. The most common preservative used in wine is sulphur dioxide (SO2). Often, you’ll see it listed on the label as ‘preservative 220’, or even ‘antioxidant 220’. It’s an entirely natural by-product of winemaking, and not necessarily a bad thing at all. It’s typically produced by yeast during the fermentation process – and happens to act as protection against bacteria and other nasties, while helping neutralise the effects of oxygen exposure during the winemaking process. Sulphites are common as preservative agents also – hence the ‘may contain sulphites’ notice you’ll see on many bottles. But the better the grapes are handled in the vineyard and the better the quality of the fruit, the less need there is to add any such preservatives.  And, despite the common misconception, sulphites aren’t really to blame for your wine headache – a more likely cause is the phenolics (tannins), the alcohol content, or even the wine’s natural acidity. However, if you’re someone who experiences tightness in the chest, coughing or symptoms similar to asthma when drinking wine, they are likely signs of a sulphite allergy or intolerance – making any wine labelled ‘preservative-free’ the best choice to indulge in when it’s time for a tipple. VEGAN WINE A lot of people may wonder, how is my wine not vegan already? It’s a fair question, as wine is essentially fermented grape juice where yeasts facilitate the conversion of the fruit’s natural sugars into alcohol… isn’t it? Well, yes… but that’s only part of the typical winemaking process. Where things get un-vegan is in the fining process, which is meant to clear up the ‘haze’ created by the proteins, tannins and tartrate during the creation of a wine. To speed the settlement of this haze, winemakers generally use fining agents such as isinglass (fish protein), gelatin (animal protein), catein (a milk-derived protein), and egg whites (albumin) to act as coagulants, binding the elements that make up the haze, and making them easier to remove from the final wine.  Happily for vegans, a number of wines are appearing today that use alternative fining agents like activated charcoal, or bentonite – a clay-based agent. More and more winemakers are also leaving their wines to ‘self-fine’ or stabilise without the use of any such protein agents. That means that if you’re a vegan wine lover, you’ll find more options out there to satisfy that love than ever – but make sure to check the label for the vegan symbol, the words vegan-friendly, or for whether the wine is unfined/unfiltered. If in doubt, ask. For more info on vegan wines, check out our guide here .  A WIDER WORLD OF WINE No doubt, innovation and an increasingly educated consumer base has broadened the availability and acceptance of such wines. And the best thing about it all is that there really is no trade-off in quality, unlike the bad old days when organic wines were largely to be avoided. Today’s organic, biodynamic and vegan wines are delightfully delicious expressions in their own right. So, who’s for a glass of wine with fewer chemicals, a smaller ecological footprint and perhaps less chance of leaving you a little sorry the next morning? We’ll drink to that! Interested in experiencing that organic flavour for yourself? View our range of organic and vegan-friendly wines here !
Wine
Meet Warren Proft from Chrismont
To celebrate Chrismont’s La Zona Prosecco being our Wine of the Month for September, we caught up with winemaker, Warren Proft. You’ve made every Chrismont wine since it began in 1999 – what major changes in Australian wine tastes have you seen during that time? Australian wine consumers in the last 20 years have made a quantum leap from what was really just 6 varieties and styles to being interested in wines from all over the world. People are more interested in trying different styles and varieties and celebrating the diversity that is wine. What made you decide to stay in the King Valley? King Valley is a beautiful area close to all the places I like to hang out. But ultimately the local community is incredibly warm, generous and hospitable which made us feel at home the minute we moved in. Prosecco is a style that’s really taken Australian wine-lovers by storm – what do you think makes it so appealing? Prosecco is a very friendly wine to drink unlike other sparkling wines that are traditionally more acidic. Prosecco also has an image of being fun and unashamedly promotes itself with mixing cocktails as well as being great on its own. What makes the La Zona Prosecco stand out from the crowd? Coming from the King Valley, The La Zona Prosecco inherits the regions strong expression of varietal fruit which is an aspect we try to preserve. A well balanced level of dosage to complement the acidity and a dry finish makes the wine memorably moreish. What is your all-time favourite wine memory (other than a wine itself)? When I was working in Spain, the local community held their ‘fiesta del vinos’ which was an eye opener and experience. The main parade involved everyone, children to grandparents, all dancing and squirting each other with wine having a great time. It really drove home the point to me how wine is so integrated into their society and way of life. Other than your own wine, what is the wine that you like to drink at home? I like to try everything. We are always bringing home different wines. What is your ultimate food and wine match? Seafood pasta with a crisp white like Riesling or Arneis . What do you do to relax away from the winery? Chill out with my family and friends, and make (real) cider. What is your favourite… Book ? Into the void Movie ? Pulp Fiction – all time classic TV show? No time for TV Restaurant?  Rinaldos – Wangaratta Provenence – Beechworth Breakfast? Fruit, yogurt, muesli Lunch?  Pasta carbonara Dinner? Slow cooked lamb Time of day/night?  Dawn and dusk Sporting team?  Daughters’ netball teams Beer?  Bridge road ‘Robust Porter, King River Brewing ‘Saison’
Wine
Vine Change for the Good Life
Words by Jackie Macdonald on 27 Nov 2017
Ever dreamed of making a vine change? Meet some daring individuals who took a leap of faith to embrace the good life – vinous style. We’ve all been there. Visited a winery, wandered through the vines, dreaming of days spent pruning tips and tasting wines straight from the barrel. Of course, this romantic picture glosses over the constant stress of too much or not enough rain, grape-eating pests and the changing tastes of fickle consumers. But for a special selection of wine producers, the challenges were never too great. Their dream of a life on the land was enough motivation to pack in their career and take up the secateurs for a life dictated by vines, veraison and vats. For Todd and Jeff of Belford Block Eight in the Hunter Valley , it was love at first sight of their property’s driveway. As Jeff explains, “Todd and I turned off the car, listened to nature, admired the olives, turned to one another and said, ‘this is it.’” Jeff gave up his job in the finance department for CanTeen and Todd left Ebay, where he’d worked for 12 years in strategy, marketing and analysis. Neither knew anything about winemaking. But on their property were around 12,000 vines, so, as Todd describes, “Jeff and I tracked down a bottle of 2006 Brokenwood Block Eight Semillon, a single vineyard release made only using our grapes and it was truly remarkable. So, we thought, maybe there’s an opportunity to make some nice wine from these grapes, let’s give it a go!” And given it a go they certainly have with their first ever wine, the 2014 Reserve Semillon now an award-winner. It hasn’t been all plain sailing, though, and they’ve learnt some valuable lessons. Apart from the vagaries of harvest, the necessity of tractor headlights and that their deckchairs are just for show, they also know that un-neutered piglets turn into boisterous 150kg boars and goats can be as loyal as dogs. But regrets? “No bloody way, mate!” is Jeff’s answer, “One day we’ll sit on those deck chairs, sipping on a 20-year-old Block Eight, admiring what we’ve built.” Healthy vines
Back in 1997, while Jeff and Todd were still slogging away in the corporate world, over in South Australia’s Clare Valley, medical professional, Anura Nitchingham planted his first vineyard. He’d chosen Clare because, he says, “The region is really an unsung hero in the world of viticulture. It’s unique and has some really great producers in a very small, but beautiful region.” That first planting has grown into Claymore Wines , one of Australia’s most unique wine brands. While Anura hasn’t left his medical career, he says that winemaking provides something medicine can’t: “Vines don’t complain! And there’s wine!” The medical theme is also part of the story of Hobbs of Barossa Ranges . Allison Hobbs was a nurse and her husband was a former policeman turned firefighter when they bought their vineyard in the Barossa. Their decision to make a vine change was borne of a desire to provide a rural lifestyle for their children. Like Jeff and Todd, Allison and Greg knew very little about making wine, but the stars aligned, providing them with some strokes of good fortune in the early years. Foremost was they happened to buy the property next door to local winemaking expert, Chris Ringland, who provided invaluable advice and made their wines. While being a nurse, police officer or fire fighter might be worlds away from making wine, Allison and Greg feel they brought vital skills from those professions to their new endeavour. As Greg says, “attention to detail is very important to both nursing and winemaking”, and Allison adds, “the observation techniques you learn in nursing, the police and fire brigade are important as we wander through the vineyard and take note of what’s right and what’s not.” Livin’ in the 70s
Although Allison, Greg and Anura faced challenges in the mid-1990s, things were even more basic in the 1970s. Having left successful careers in the emerging computer industry, Linda and Ian Tyrer bought a property in WA’s Mount Barker region to establish Galafrey Wines . Again, they had no experience, but, as Linda describes, she arrived at their new home four months pregnant, armed with a few thousand grape cuttings – “naive but starry-eyed, full of enthusiasm.” A lack of money meant a lot of back-breaking work, but by 1985, they had won their first Trophy and Ian’s tireless dedication saw him awarded the George Mulgure Award for outstanding service to the industry in 2003. Unfortunately, the same year, Ian lost his battle with cancer. However, his legacy lives on with Linda still at the helm, along with daughter Kim, who left her own career as an artist to return to the vines. One thing all these people would agree on is that a life among the vines is a hard slog. But is it the good life? Absolutely!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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