Awesome Australia

Free tasting | Saturday, February 16, 2019 | 4-6PM

Photo cred:  Punch

Photo cred: Punch

Hi everyone! Molly here. Occasionally in the shop I’ve heard murmurs of ‘I don’t like Australian wine’…lets revisit kindergarten for a moment, Australia is a continent, can you imagine saying ‘I don’t like wine from Europe?’ That would be like saying you dislike everything from Champagne, to Tuscany, to Priorat! Australia is such a richly varied country in terms of terroir and every type of wine.  It’s also an exciting time to revisit Australian wine! While there are some large (poisonous?) corporations like Yellowtail there are also many dedicated smaller producers making traiditonally made, quality wine. In the 1970’s the Australian wine community moved away from focusing on sweeter wines and began producing starkly dry wines. While in the 2000’s larger corporations like Yellowtail became popular, so did the beginnings of smaller producers using organic and natural practices. 

One of first keys to getting a grasp onto this gigantic landmass that is Australia is to understand how it’s divided up. Australia is separated into five states (Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales) and then within these states are wine regions. Today we’re focusing on two small organic wineries in not only the driest part of Australia but also where half of the country’s wine is produced: South Australia.

First, let’s stroll over to McLaren Vale (an appellation within the region of South Australia) and visit the small, organic winery of Jauma. You’re 22 miles south of Adelaide and hills and valleys are abound with vineyards full of round blue Shiraz (Syrah) grapes, the most popular grape variety in the McLaren Vale. Sweat is sliding down the back of your neck, and its unbelievably hot and humid as you walk up yet another hill, when all of a sudden a fresh breeze flows across your skin thanks to the Onkaparinga River and Gulf St. Vincent. After a long hike, you definitely deserve some wine from Jauma!

Jauma (‘you-mah’) is a team effort from James Erskine, Mark Warner, and Fiona Wood who are all equally passionate about natural winemaking. James, the founder, was professionally trained in the culinary arts and wanted to own a restaurant, but after a detour as a sommelier he fell into wine instead! When traveling in Spain he met a winemaker named Jauma who introduced him to the tantalizing, silky, and freshness of the grape Garnacha, aka Grenache. While Jauma has expanded into Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Cabernet Franc, Grenache is still unapologetically James’s favorite wine-child.


2015 Jauma ‘Like Raindrops’

Who: James Erskine, Mark Warner, and Fiona Wood

Where: Across McLaren Vale and some of Adelaide Hills

What: Grenache

How: Hand-harvested and wild fermentation. No sulfur added!

Fun Fact: Jauma’s winery is in a building that was one of the original sandstone structures built by the first wave of winemakers in the Adelaide Hills in 1867.

First Sipping Reactions: Whoa baby. Who knew that Grenache could be this good. It’s a powerhouse of wild spicy cherries and herbs.

Now you’re up in Barossa Valley (also part of South Australia); prepare to dust off that rusty German you learned in high school. In the early 1800’s a huge wave of Germans from a Luthern Silesian community settled in Barossa Valley and that influence is still felt in the language and lifestyle. Food is pickled and preserved and the environment is strikingly different than in McLaren. While warm, you’ll find a tree to curl up in underneath with fields of corn, wheat, and dozens of bleating sheep for company. The rolling valleys are described as ‘biscuit colored’ and the ironstone filled soil brings structure to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grown in this region. But as Yetti & the Kokonut winery prove, fantastic whites are also grown here!

Unfortunately, a Yetti with a team of animated ‘Kokonuts’ are not the winemakers behind this fun brand. Yetti and Kokonut were nicknames given to humans Dave Geyer (the Yetti) and Koen Janssens (Kokonut) by their wine friends in Australia. These longtime pals established their natural winery in 2015 where their labels are designed by the Kokonut’s partner, Emma Shearer. Together they experiment with off the beaten path grape varietals from Savagnin to Doradillo! 


2018 Yetti & the Kokonut ‘El Doradillo’

Who: Dave Geyer and Koen Janssens 

Where: Barossa Valley

What: Doradillo

How: The Doradillo is given 4 months of skin contact

Fun Fact: In 1957, movie star Jimmy Stewart helped smuggle a finger from the Pangboche hand, which supposedly belonged to a Yetti, into London!

First Sipping Reaction: Tight tannins, peach and blueberry 


2018 Yetti & the Kokonut ‘Savagnin’

Who: Dave Geyer and Koen Janssens 

Where: Barossa Valley

What: Savagnin

How: Light skin contact

Fun Fact: Until 2009, the Australians thought that the Savagnin they were growing in their vineyards was the Spanish varietal Albariño . Genetic testing proved them wrong!

First Sipping Reaction: Super savory with notes of lemon, ginger, and lime.


2018 Yetti & the Kokonut ‘Mt. Savagnin’

Who: Dave Geyer and Koen Janssens 

Where: Barossa Valley

What: Savagnin

How: This Savagnin is aged in large oaked barrels

Fun Fact: The first vineyards in Australia were planted at the end of the 18th century by immigrants settling in New South Wales. The farmers literally picked up their vines en route to Australia when their ships would stop for provisions in South Africa.

First Sipping Reaction: Tangerine and nectarine fruit with a splash of saltiness

See you Saturday! It’s going to be totally Aus-some. (Sorry.)