Sunday, March 20, 2011

Heggies Vineyard Chardonnay, Eden Valley, South Australia

"Minimum intervention in my winemaking" is a guiding principle of Peter Gambetta, winemaker for Heggies Vineyard, and a principle echoed by some of the finest winemakers in the world.

Eden Valley (courtesy of South Australia)

   I have nothing but the fullest respect for any winemaker who says that categorically, his (or her) work is to do everything possible to allow the land to express itself fully through the grape. Amen. But work it most definitely is, as Peter talks about the challenge of developing care programs that are individually suited to each varietal grown at the property. Then there is the innovative concept of working with the natural surroundings rather then (as has been the case many times) trying to impose a man-made sense of order and rhythm. No less innovative (and beautiful) is Peter's use of wild yeasts - something we are starting to see more and more of in the marketplace but by it's very nature being a time-consuming and volatile practice.

Colin Heggies on his horse Jack

   And what of the Eden Valley, the rolling high-elevation appellation in which we find the Heggies Vineyard? Eden Valley has a rich history of viticulture, stretching back to the 1840's, or, about the same time as viticulture began in the more famous neighbour; Barossa. Eden Valley is more widely recognized for it's plantings of Riesling (considered some of the best in Australia) and Syrah, with Chardonnay being a more recent addition to the "family". Since 1973 when it was first planted, Chardonnay has proven to be more then well-suited to the region with rich and complex flavors developing in the Eden Valley's (relatively) cool climate.

2004 Heggies Vineyards Chardonnay
Eden Valley, South Australia
14.5% ABV, $28 CAD   **Very Good to Excellent Value **
  • visual:   clean with slight sediment; moderate+ rich gold core with light watery rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ intense developing aromas of grilled pineapple, butterscotch, apricot preserve, ripe honeydew melon, slight eucalyptus finish
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate (meyer lemon and yellow grapefruit) acids, moderate+ ABV, moderate+ body, moderate+ intense developed flavors; Meyer (aromatic) lemons, yellow grapefruit, young apricots, stony terroir minerality, sea salt caramel, pineapple, green apple. Very good balance, very good to excellent structure, very good to excellent length
  • conclusion:   This wine drinks superbly now and will do so until 2012 at the earliest. Strong concentration of flavors, good balance and length will continue to deliver.
  • PAIRINGS:   Pasta Carbonnara with double smoked bacon and steamed snow peas... a natural. The acids in this want a little fat to play off (veal scallopini is another similar option) but also pork in it's many forms loves apricot as a complimentary flavor... the steamed snow peas would keep the dish from being too heavy and play off the freshness still found in this wine

Eden Valley (courtesy of South Australia)
   At the southern end of the Eden Valley, the altitude reaches an average 500 metres, which is where we find Heggies Vineyard. The altitude and it's incumbent cooler days, shorter growing season, is one of the main contributors to the uniqueness of the wines coming from this region, although not the only one. Soil-type is also critical and here it's grey sand loam over clay and decomposed rock which retains little moisture, holds little nutrients, and makes the vines compete for their survival which, much like humans, only makes them stronger. Vive le Chardonnay!

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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