Gold, Gold, Gold!! The continuing success of Marsh Estate’s Semillons in the show arena has propelled these single vineyard gems into iconic status. The brand new 2013 Semillons are sheer class, from arguably one of the best Semillon vintages in the Hunter’s history. Mind-blowing wines! A pleasure to make – a pleasure to drink. As usual, Holly has been devouring them in record time and so I urge you to get in before it's too late.......
As I re-read that opening paragraph, I am reluctantly drawn in by its rather far reaching claims, appearing distastefully priapic. Wine companies in Australia are spending record amounts on promotional tools in order to better place themselves in an increasingly tough market. The use of PR and media companies within the wine industry is at an all time high, with the view of sending out a clear message – we have a great product...buy it...now! Yet there is talking the talk and there is walking the walk. Very few are doing both.
Wine is a personal journey. This is beautifully expressed in this universe simply by observing that you, as a wine lover, have a nose and a mouth. Your wine journey begins here. Or does it? Maybe it begins with your eyes, as you read an interesting article on wine. Or maybe it begins in experiencing the ambience and beauty of a famous wine region. It’s personal. Outrageous claims and clever marketing may be enticing at times, but the buck stops with you.
So my question is this. Where does the magic lie for you? Where does your journey take shape? The great Len Evans once asked me this very question, just before I began my wine studies at university. My answer came immediately, void of thought….“it begins in my heart.” Len’s face lit up and I will never forget his lovely, warm smile, as he offered six words I have made my mantra….“then begin your journey from there”.
The one resounding, elemental truth which I have been afforded from growing up in and around wine is this: There is no such thing as “good” quality. There is only “depth” in quality. That depth, despite what PR companies or fancy labels tell you, will never be born from the when or where or which or why. Depth of quality rests solely in the “how”. The manner in which the grapes are grown and the wine is made will reflect intimately, that depth of quality. In the intent and approach, the quality of wine is birthed.
When wine is made with honour and grace, it shines through, not into the finished product, but as the finished product. It's that simple. When you hear some Australian wine producers making claim that the wine has been put through this process or that process and spent this long in oak doing this or that, it seems a trifle innocuous. The first time I ever visited Chateau Latour in Bordeaux the winemaker took me out into the vineyard and asked me to shut my eyes and listen and feel the essence of why the wines of Latour are so amazing. To this day I have never felt such a powerful insight. There were no words, just an undeniable but charming vibration. Twenty years later, my point here has been beautifully expressed in the recently released film, Red Obsession, in which the head viticulturist of Chateau Latour is asked why the wine is of such high quality. His answer - energy and the subsequent vibration. No words of wine production or fancy labels or clever marketing jargon. Two simple words, energy and vibration, one in the same. Honour and grace, one in the same. There is a lesson here.
Coming back to basics is not easy for an industry which has come through so much growth in the past couple of decades. Sadly, it was never sustainable. In fact, every wine article I read from within the industry refers to the recent downsizing or shift in vineyard planting as “negative growth”. The idea and attachment to the word growth in our society today in concerning. Grow or die! Maybe we could replace the word growth with evolve? When the media recently put the spotlight on Marsh Estate being one of the only true wine estates in the country, I could almost hear staunch economists out there shaking their heads in disbelief….“but how do they grow?” The fact is we don’t. We evolve. I’ve always harped on the fact that Marsh Estate lies on the two most famous soil profiles in the Hunter; everything is grown, made, matured and bottled onsite, in single named vineyards, without the use of irrigation. That is not a story. That is fact. We co-create the story. It’s your journey. I simply stick to two words, honour and grace. Then I pass it on to you.