Another exclusivity to unveil in the form of one of Barossa’s most iconic producers

Greenock Creek.

Written by Stuart McCloskey

The Future…

Now, under new ownership, Greenock Creek is putting the wheels in motion to expand their global reach, which and to be fair to the previous owners, Michael and Annabelle, has lost much ground over the past decade.  We have been provided with the freedom to represent these incredible wines throughout the UK, Europe and the USA which we will do with much vigour and with huge smiles on our faces, as these wines are simply fantastic.


The Past…

 

Michael Waugh was a bricklayer, a trade which brought him to Barossa in the 1970s. With his wife Annabelle, they purchased a 20-acre property near Seppeltsfield in the mid-1970s . The property was a neglected house along with an almond & apricot orchard and roughly 2 acres of old Shiraz vines. It is understood that Michael planted an acre of Chardonnay and produced several vintages from these vines. Of course, an ill-conceived idea as the Barossa climate and Chardonnay are a bad combination. Originally, Michael sold the grapes to Seppelt’s until the late 1980s when, and with the support of Chris Ringland, he began to produce his own wine from old Shiraz vines.

In mid-1990, they purchased the celebrated Roennfeldt Road property which consisted of 6 acres of Grenache, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines along with 8 acres of apricot orchards, which naturally enjoyed basking in the Barossa sun. 1995 saw the first vintage of the Roennfeldt Road Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from this entirely dry-farmed vineyard. The apricot orchard was pulled out and replanted with 8 acres of Shiraz, and aptly named the Apricot Block. Alice’s Vineyard was planted on a 20-acre property adjoining the original homestead on Radford Road and produced its first vintage in 2008.

The world market became obsessed with this small, boutique winery, when and at his most prominent, Robert Parker awarded 100 points for the ’95 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz. Parker awarded a further 100 points for the ’96 & ’98 vintage. Their ’98 Roennfeldt Cabernet Sauvignon also received 100 points. Skip a few vintages until the ’01 & ’03 Creek Block Shiraz scooped 100 points and both the ’02 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz & Cabernet received the same accolade. Five wines have been awarded 99 points and nine, 98 points… To date, Greenock Creek is the most ‘Parker’ celebrated Australian winery (Penfolds Grange & Torbreck The Laird have each received three 100-point scores, two for Torbreck Run Rig & Astralis and Hill of Grace has never been awarded 100 points).

There is a new winemaker too and we spent a little time getting to know Alex (a brief Q&A is below). Exciting plans will be revealed this year. Until then, enjoy these charismatic, individual and rare wines which are produced in minute quantities…

Exclusive Q&A with
winemaker Alex Peel

When did you first want to become a winemaker?

I had finished high school and was working at a propagation plant nursery until I figured out what I actually wanted to do with my life, knowing that I eventually wanted to go to university. I was enjoying seeing the process of the seeds; germinating into plants, nurtured and then sold to market (much like the life of a grape berry in the wine industry) and the hands on aspect of the work. This led me to thinking that I would like to make/create something for others to enjoy.

My Mother’s family has a strong farming background and I had always enjoyed my time in school holidays on the farm in the countryside so that also led me to believe that I would like to make something in the country, but also combining it with the passion I had for science and mathematics.

Finally, I remembered as a child having wine on the table when we had gatherings with my Dad’s side of the family and road trips to the Barossa Valley on weekends and getting a sense that wine was something special, to be savoured.

I guess a combination of all these factors and the fact that I was just starting to appreciate and try more wines myself led me to choosing ‘winemaker’ as a career path.

How would you describe your career so far?

I completed my Bachelor of Oenology Degree in 2014 and my final year of work placement was a vintage at Grant Burge wines which really consolidated the belief that I have chosen the right career path for me. It was hard to complete my studies as a I just wanted to keep working, I enjoyed it that much!

From there I wanted to be a cellar hand only for a few years, as I thought when I eventually became a Winemaker and started instructing people what to do, there was more purpose in that if I actually knew how to do the cellar task myself! An extended vintage at Ross Estate ended with a second harvest in Sonoma Valley in the USA. That was my first travel overseas and was a life changing experience for me and made me ‘grow up’ a lot and focus my winemaking style. After a second vintage at Ross Estate, I was offered the Assistant Winemaker role and I stayed for nearly 10 years (later becoming the Head Winemaker) revitalising the brand and style.

From there I was poached to work at the Historic Chateau Yaldara as a branded winemaker, taking on the Chief Winemaker role a year later. This was a challenging role that covered everything from commercial wines made to a price point to super premium parcels. It was a role that I needed, to see all aspects of winemaking.

Now I find myself at the Iconic Greenock Creek, with the exciting opportunity to nurture a range of well-loved wines, while at the same time creating a new range/style of wines at the same time.

Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?

I like to have a good grasp on a vineyard before I create a new wine from it. How does it ripen, can it handle a heat spell and what oak works best? A few years of trial and error are needed to find the best match and picking dates.

Then it is best to do a few small batch trials do see how different winemaking practices affect the fruit and structural profile, such as extended skin maceration, whole bunch ferments and even pressing regimes.  From these trials a more focused decision can be made as to where the style direction is headed, that best suits the fruit before a commercial volume is made. Saying that sometimes these ‘trials’ become limited, releasing bottles that find such a following that another new wine can be born from them that pairs with the intended wine.

What do you most love about your job?

I love the diversity in winemaking. Of course, vintage is equally fun as it is mentally and physically draining but it is the one shot each year you have to make a great wine or two. Watching and tasting the wines evolve in barrels and seeing new characters develop over time is fascinating as well. I even enjoy the marketing and branding role that comes with the job as it is always satisfying to see customers appreciating a wine that you have made and that is probably the most enjoyable thing to experience.

What is your favourite food and wine pairing?

This is a hard one as many wines pair well with so many meals in different ways, enhancing flavours of both the food and the wine. A classic pairing for me though is Eden Valley Riesling and King George Whiting. The lime and minerality of the wine matches so well with the delicate meat of the fish. And of course, another classic working in the Barossa and in particular Greenock Creek is big, silky Shiraz wines with a seared steak with creamy mushroom or pepper sauce. So inviting and satisfying on a cold winter’s night.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Hopefully, having developed and focused the new offerings from Greenock Creek as well as enhancing the already world-renowned estate portfolio. I have some great vineyards to work with and source from so I’m very excited about what we can produce with the freedom to also create some small batch wines when the wine speaks for itself and needs to be showcased.

What are your thoughts on the style of the ‘NEW RANGE?’

I envisage the ranges of new wines to be focused around my motto for winemaking; “to create wines with a perfect balance between intensity, structure and elegance.” These are wines that are being sourced from growers, whom I have been dealing with for many years in most cases, and I trust their ability to grow the style of grapes that I require to make these types of wines.

There will be some earlier drinking styles that are all about fruit forward intensity and silky tannins that will make them so inviting to drink early in their life. Another range that incorporates the wise use of high-end oak barrels and full bodied, structured wines that can meld together for extended months to create wines that will age with grace. While there is also scope for some limited release, single site offerings that will wear the name of the grower on the label to identify parcels that have stood out for the vintage or a section of the vineyard that we have worked together to create something exciting with.

 

**All wines available for delivery March 2020**

 

2017 Alice's Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from our Home Block in Seppeltsfield from 1993 plantings. Soil profile is hard clay, mingled with bluestone slate.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned American oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£34.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Alice's Shiraz

£156.85 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 
 

2016 Alice's Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from the Seppeltsfield property from 1997 plantings. Soil profile is slaty silk stone though light red/brown clays.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned American oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2016 vintage was proceeded with a wet winter and consistent rainfall through Spring. The ripening season with warm and dry, creating smaller berry size and great intensity in tannins and colour development. The resultant wines are very structured with intense flavours, balanced with a savoury edge.

 

£34.95 per bottle

Buy 2016 Alice's Shiraz

£313.75 per case of 12 In Bond

 
 

2017 Apricot Block Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from our Marananga property from 1995 plantings in what was originally an Apricot orchard. Soil profile is silty sandy over flint and quartz

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned American oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£36.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Apricot Block Shiraz

£166.85 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

2017 Seven Acre Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from our Home Block in Seppeltsfield from 1993 plantings. Soil profile is hard clay, mingled with bluestone slate.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned American oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£39.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Seven Acre Shiraz

£186.35 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

2017 Casey's Block Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from the Seppeltsfield property from 2010 plantings that were cuttings from the Estate’s other Shiraz blocks. Soil profile is loam mixed with red/brown clays.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned American oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£29.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Casey's Block Shiraz

£131.85 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

2017 Marananga Shiraz

Overview: Harvested from a vineyard in the heart of the Marananga sub region, which is renowned for producing rich and silky wines.

Winemaking: The hand-picked grapes had a two-day cold soak then naturally fermented using indigenous yeasts. The ferment was hand plunged three times daily for approximately ten days. Then basket pressed and filled into French oak 15-20% new and two ear old USA for three weeks of barrel fermentation followed by 20 months maturation.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£22.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Marananga Shiraz

£202.75 per case of 12 In Bond

 
 

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

Overview: Harvested from our Home Block in Seppeltsfield from 1991 plantings. Soil profile is a free draining sandy red/brown loam.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned French oak for 27 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2017 vintage was preceded by drenching winter rains that allowed healthy canopy development and good fruit set. The summer leading into harvest was unusually cool, with frequent rain events resulting in grapes with great natural acid balance and freshness. The resultant wines are elegant with fruit purity and definition.

 

£34.95 per bottle

Buy 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

£161.35 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

2016 The Sibling Cabernet Sauvignon 

Overview: Harvested from vineyards in the Northern Barossa sub-region of Ebenezer. The soil profile is sandy clay loam over solid limestone  

Winemaking: Fermented in small open fermenters, with hand plunging 3 times daily. Maturation followed for 16 months in a combination of new and seasoned French oak barrels and remained on a light layer of yeast lees to maintain fruit profile and provide a creamy structure.

Vintage conditions: The 2016 vintage was proceeded with a wet winter and consistent rainfall through Spring. The ripening season with warm and dry, creating smaller berry size and great intensity in tannins and colour development. The resultant wines are very structured with intense flavours, balanced with a savoury edge.

 

£30.50 per bottle

Buy 2016 The Sibling Cabernet

£139.10 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

2018 Cornerstone Grenache

Overview: Harvested from our approximately 90yr old vineyard at Marananga. Soil profile is shallow sandy soil over flint and quartz.

Winemaking: Hand harvested and de-stemmed without being crushed. Fermented in concrete open fermenters for 7-10 days with 4 pump overs to maintain a fermentation temperature of 20-22’C. Drained and pressed though our wooden basket press before being transferred into seasoned oak for 15 months. Bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Vintage conditions: The 2018 vintage saw consistent winter and spring rains that facilitated an average fruit set with open bunches. During ripening the weather was warm and dry, resulting in smaller berries with intense colour development. The wines have strong tannin structure and intensity of fruit that will allow them to age for many years.

 

£29.95 per bottle

Buy 2018 Cornerstone Grenache

£131.85 per case of 6 In Bond