Wednesday 19 December 2018

Irvine turning tradition on its head with two bold new wine releases

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Traditionally known for its Merlot, Irvine Wines in the Barossa is quickly developing a reputation for pushing boundaries with its modern twist on generational grapegrowing.

The Baroness, a Petillant Naturel sparkling wine, and The Earl, an unfiltered and unfined Cabernet Franc, will be released this week. They join the Primitivo Noir – a red wine made in a delicate, berry-driven style that is the first of its kind in Australia – in Irvine’s Pushing Boundaries range.

Winemaker Rebekah Richardson said the two additions to Pushing Boundaries met the needs of wine drinkers who are becoming increasingly confident and adventurous.

“We now have a generation of Australians who have been blessed with high quality wine for as long as they can remember,” Beck said.

“Because they are confident in their knowledge and understanding of wine, this group of people are excited about innovation and interested in trying new styles, tastes and varieties.

“They know what they like – and sometimes just want to relax with their favourite variety – but at other times they want to be part of this exciting moment in Australian winemaking history where the next generation of wine producers have the confidence, the experience and the passion to experiment with different varietals, winemaking techniques and styles.”

The Baroness (RRP $35) is a sparkling blend of 58 percent Petit Meslier and 42 percent Chardonnay made in the methode traditionelle style, but with extra time on yeast lees. The resultant wine is cloudy in the glass but light and refreshing on the palate, with a hint of creaminess.

The Earl (RRP $35) is an unfined and unfiltered Cabernet Franc sourced from 35-year-old vines in the Eden Valley.

“The Baroness and The Earl are made with minimal intervention in order to best represent the varietal nuances showcased in both wines,” Beck said.

“Irvine’s aim with the Pushing Boundaries range is to turn tradition on its head – with The Baroness, for example, you have a sparkling wine that looks cloudy and yet is deliciously bone dry and fresh, and improves with age. This will be a new concept for many Australian wine drinkers, but I am confident they will embrace the adventure.”

Irvine grower Peter Miles says of The Earl, “The biggest challenge with Cabernet Franc is to showcase the plush fruit without getting it over-ripe. We manage our fruit levels carefully to make sure we achieve full ripeness without needing to push baume too high. The result is a soft, generous and infinitely drinkable wine.”

Peter is a fourth generation Barossa grapegrower, having taken over the family business from his father Brian in the late 80s. Brian, a respected vigneron throughout the Barossa, was former vineyard manager at Saltram Estate under the venerable Peter Lehmann, and then at Tolley’s where he was responsible for the development of the 380-acre Woodbury vineyard in Eden Valley. In 1980 Brian had the foresight to purchase a 135-acre block of land from the pioneering Crane family, which he planted to Riesling.

Along with a love for viticulture and a respect for the Barossa soil, Peter inherited from his father an ability to successfully identify and develop new vineyard holdings.

Peter and business partner John Wade (whose father, in true Barossa style, worked with Brian at TST) planted 175 acres in the Eden Valley to new vineyard in 1993. Along with managing the vineyards, Peter also runs the harvesting business established by his father with services growers throughout the Barossa during vintage.

Peter’s wife Rebecca and their son Ben continue the family tradition of Miles viticulture, working with Peter on Irvine Wines and in the vineyards.

With more than 20 years’ experience at wineries in Australia and the USA, Beck has honed her practical skills while continuing her education with an undergraduate degree in oenology, an MBA and a post graduate diploma in Marketing.

Beck’s love of travel has seen her gain experience at wineries that would make any oenophile jealous – Wirra in McLaren Vale, Domaine Chandon in the Yarra, E&J Gallo, Gallo of Sonoma and Korbel Winery in California, Pernod Ricard in the Barossa.

In 2016 Beck joined Irvine Wines where she delights in the opportunity to work with traditional styles while also having the freedom to push the boundaries with innovative winemaking techniques.

An avid climber and adventurer, Beck is also passionate about the wine industry and is an Advisory Board Member of the Australia Women in Wine Awards, chair of the Research & Development Advisory Board for Wine Australia and is on the SA Women in Drink board.

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