Not that long ago I hosted a lovely group of people out on a Unique Boutique Tour. One of the wine buffs on the tour; Peter Davy, sent us a review of his time at ATR Wines and some neighbouring wineries. I was so chuffed with what Peter wrote that we wanted to share it with you. It might just help plan your next Grampians visit:
We’ve all heard of the Grampians, and enjoyed wine from the Grampians many times, but like many others from Melbourne we’ve done most of our wine touring around the Melbourne “Dress Circle” – the Yarra, Gippsland, Mornington, Bellarine/Geelong & Macedon regions. We’re familiar with the well-known names, and their Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Shiraz, amongst others.
So a trip to the Grampians wine country was a bit of an adventure. It’s not that far though: only about 2 hours from the Westgate Bridge, on very good roads with a 110kph limit on a much of the Western Highway. We began our visit at Mountainside Wines, where we’d stay at their excellent B&B, the Blue House. Mountainside is about 15km off the Western Highway, near Mt Cole, and 8km past the famous Mt Langi Ghiran winery.
Mountainside is in a lovely bush setting, with vineyards and pastures surrounding the home, the winery, the cellar door and the Blue House, which is a comfy, secluded cottage with a separate bedroom, living room with fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen (with capsule coffee machine!), and a good quality kettle BBQ on the terrace. There’s a view up to Mt Cole on one side, and over to the Grampians range on the other side of the property. You can even take your dog who’ll have fun chasing the rabbits.
We decided to take the recommended “Blue House Limousine” tour in owner Shane’s excellent Stateman Caprice, to visit three other wineries with the benefit of local knowledge, and not having to limit our wine tastings in order to drive. We went to Dogrock, A.T. Richardson, and Miner’s Ridge, all relatively small wineries.
At Dogrock, the owners Andrea and Allen greeted us in the hilltop-perched cellar door, with expansive views over their vines and beyond. The vineyards have a fairly broad range of vines, with Riesling and Chardonnay whites, an excellent Rose, and Shiraz, Cabernet, Tempranillo and Grenache reds. There’s a Spanish and Portuguese feel to some of the reds as Allen and Andrea have spent some time tasting and studying the wines from the Iberian peninsula. The wines all show a level of purity which comes from a fully sustainable and enviro-friendly approach to grape growing and winemaking, as well as Allen & Andrea’s extensive experience around Australia and in Europe prior to starting Dogrock in the late 90’s. Our favourites? The Rose, really delicious, crisp and savoury, the award-winning Degraves Rd Riesling, and the Dogrock Grenache which has gained gold medal scores from several wine reviewers.
Then over to AT Richardson, where Adam Richardson gives us an extensive hosted tasting of his brilliant wines. Adam has been winemaker at a number of world-class wineries in Australia and the USA, but has established “ATR” in recent years and it’s now his family’s home, with the cellar door within the winery next to his Hard Hill Road vineyard. He chose the site specifically to grow and make Grampians Riesling and Shiraz, the two varietals for which the Grampians region is famous, and Adam is making these brilliantly, with several different styles of Shiraz. Don’t miss the Hard Hill Road Riesling or the Close-Planted Shiraz. But he’s also making an intriguing range of wines from Durif, Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo and Tannat, so there’s plenty of interest and Adam tells the story of each wine in a way that’s good for wine nerds like me, or those who just like to try a few new things.
Then on to Miners Ridge, another family owned winery, where Andrew and Katrina Toomey started their vineyards many years ago, whilst Andrew skills as a viticulturalist have been the foundation of many vineyards in the Grampians and beyond, so he knows more than a little about the region and it’s many characters. The cellar door sits on a ridge with a vista of the nearby hills and vineyards, and there’s a very cute B&B built from a refurbished railway carriage right on the vineyards. And then there’s the wines! The riesling is of course excellent, like most from the region, the chardonnay is a very high quality modern style, with lovely stonefruit flavours, and a really succulent viognier (a grape variety originally from Southern France) which has lovely floral tones. The reds are led by two Shiraz, the first with typical regional spice and white pepper and soft tannins, then the premium AT Shiraz that’s got real intensity of cherry and berry flavours, and a great deal of finesse. A lovely wine. Finally, the gold medal winning Cabernet Sauvignon, with rich cherry and berry fruits and just enough oak to deliver a very well-balanced wine that is great with red meats now, and will cellar well.
Sounds like a big day of tasting, but we are in pretty good shape, very happy to have Shane driving us back for dinner at the Blue House after a tasting of Mountainside’s wines.
Shane and Jane Goninon have owned Mountainside for five years, and have developed both the wines and the property over that time with expertise in viticulture and winemaking showing great results with their latest wines setting new benchmarks, especially with the use of French oak in their Shiraz. They produce an excellent Viognier, with the typical apricot and citrus flavours, and a lovely freshness that makes it great alternative to chardonnay. They also grow the Italian grape Nebbiolo, which in North Western Italy makes some of the world’s great (and expensive) reds. The Mountainside version is a much more affordable drop, with cherry and berry flavours and a soft long finish. It’s delicious. Then of course, shiraz, with four different vintages on tasting so there’s a terrific session to compare the results of varying weather conditions, and how the winemakers work to deliver regional characteristics across the years (we did this tasting the next day!) Our favourite? Probably the 2016, with the French oak rounding the wine out well, but the 2013 Reserve wine has aged beautifully, and after a decant, is a great sip by the fire in the Blue House!
In all, a great couple of days, trying excellent wines with great people telling us their stories. Just shows that it’s not always the headline-making brands with the big marketing budgets that provide the best wine experiences.
By Peter & Leone Davy
Join us for a relaxed afternoon under the shade of our magnificent gums to enjoy jazz tunes from Local Jazz Duo Richie & Corrine!
All your favourite ATR Wines will be available by the glass & bottle.
BYO chairs and picnic rugs & children welcome too. Make sure to click 'going' on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest.
Two people will join Adam for a day during vintage 2020 and get exclusive hands-on, behind the scenes experience of what goes into making every bottle of ATR Wine.
One lucky person and their guest will be selected randomly to spend a day in the winery getting dirty with Adam during vintage 2020.
The day will start with a meet the team and family, followed by a vineyard tour and winery tour. You will gain insights into a working winery and then it’s time to get your hands dirty. This is where you will be pumping over wines, washing barrels and other winery tasks needed to be done on the day you’re there. Break for lunch matched with ATR Wines, pat the dogs, enjoy some time with the family and then after lunch more winery work. To finish off the day we will send you home with a six pack of ATR Wines.
Terms & Conditions:
Promotion runs between 2 November – 31 December 2019. Competition winner will win a day with Adam at the ATR Winery, located 103 Hard Hill Road, Armstrong Vic 3377, for one day, between 8am – 5pm (or unless otherwise agreed). Competition date is to be agreed between the winner and Adam at least 7 days prior. Travel to and from the Winery is not included nor is accommodation if needed. Competitions winners will be drawn at random on 2nd January, 2020. Winner will be notified by email and details of the prize will be organised directly with the winner. If the winner does not respond within 7 days a new winner will be randomly drawn. Anybody who purchases a dozen ATR Wines or signs up to one of ATRs three wine clubs, will receive an automatic entry to the competition. ATR Wines will collect all entrants details. This information will only be used for ATR Wines marketing purposes and will not be on-sold to any other groups. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
It was great having the team from Wine Australia visit during vintage 2019 and have the opportunity to share my story and passion about what I do.
They have put together a great little video and article that I think sums me up pretty well! Check them out here: https://www.australianwine.com/en-AU/our-makers/adam-richardson
It’s always an exciting time each August waiting for the annual “Australian Wine Bible”, the Halliday Wine Companion to hit the shelves.
I’m pleased to say that this year, along with retaining our 5-red-star winery rating, we received a wonderful 96-point rating on 4 of our wines:
2017 Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Shiraz | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Ultra-close planting of 5000 vines per one-third/ha, and only a production of 250 dozen. Exceptionally deep and bright crimson-purple; it is no less strikingly intense, its mouthfeel supple, velvet and full of spices sewn through black fruits. Then, after all that, the tannins are so fine and soft they leave you wondering where they went.” James Halliday August 2019
2017 Hard Hill Road Mule Variation | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“A blend of Nebbiolo, Tannat, Durif and shiraz, says Richardson ‘inspired by the Tom Wait's album', and is a blend of his most enigmatic red varieties. Like Wait's music, Mule Variation is an unexpected take on an otherwise regular theme. The wine is supremely intense, yet medium-bodied rather than full-bodied, and the red, purple and black fruit flavours are all in harmony.” James Halliday August 2019
2017 Chockstone Shiraz | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Vivid, deep crimson-purple - spectacular. Black cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant don't intend to give red, blue or purple fruits permission to speak. Oak and tannins are allowed to suggest support roles, but that's as far as it gets. Yet it's not the winemaker who has shut the door - it's the fruit and the site climate that have become the guardians of the River of Styx.” James Halliday August 2019
2018 Chockstone Riesling | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Bone dry, yet intensely fruity. It's not an easy matter to achieve, and the Grampians can lay claim to be the most successful region in Victoria for Riesling other than Henty. Acidity is one of the keys, climate the driver.” James Halliday August 2019
We also received these other great scores:
2017 Hard Hill Road The Field | 94 points Silver + Special Vale Rating
“A complex wine utilising every variety in the estate vineyard, fermented in one large open fermenter, the varieties added as they ripened, a steady nerve required. It is a blend of 52% shiraz, 22% Riesling, 10% Nebbiolo, 9% Durif, 5% Tannat and 2% viognier. It has a foundation of small forest berry fruits with a savoury overtone.” James Halliday February 2019
2018 Chockstone Pinot Gris | 92 points Silver + Special Value Rating
“A very attractive texture and structure filled with nashi pear, Granny Smith apple, citrus and a carpet of soft acidity.” James Halliday August 2019
To celebrate these scores, we have put together a special pack, available for a limited time only:
2 x 2017 Chockstone Shiraz
2 x 2018 Chockstone Riesling
1 x 2017 Hard Hill Road Mule Variation
1 x 2017 Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Shiraz
$190 in value for just $169 with free freight
Members – if you would like to receive these wines in your allocation next month, just let us know.
We are proud to have received a Certificate of Excellence from The Real Review for the second year in a row.
Here is what The Real Review have to say out this certificate:
“We review around 10,000 wines each year and are delighted to see so many wineries producing wines of outstanding quality.
The Real Review Certificate of Excellence is awarded to a select group of wineries that consistently produce excellent wine. The Top Wineries list is a national benchmark that shows where your favourite winery is ahead of its peers.
Certificate recipients are determined by a proprietary algorithm, which takes into account the rating and recency of reviews by The Real Review team over the assessment period.”
When you get caught up in day to day life, it’s easy to forget how much we’ve achieved in a relatively short time.
Looking back at the photos of our property when we first purchased it in 2006, when it was sheep grazing land, compared with where we are at today, you can’t help but feel proud.
The Red Series puts Western Victoria’s finest wines on show during the Ballarat Winter Festival.
Ballarat will host Western Victoria’s top winemakers and their best wines at The Red Series on July 27 from 1pm – 6pm.
The event, which showcases the Grampians and Pyrenees regions’ finest red wines along with other varietals, is expected to draw a crowd to Ballarat.
The Red Series is a gathering of the very best cellar doors from the Pyrenees and Grampians wine regions, in the one ambient heated indoor space the Mining Exchange, right in the heart of Ballarat and a two minute walk from the train station.
Red Series event-goers will have the opportunity to taste and purchase Shiraz and other wine varieties from 20 wineries.
The Grampians and Pyrenees wine regions, situated on Ballarat’s doorstep, are renowned for more than 150 years of winemaking history, spectacular landscapes, award-winning wines and extremely talented, but down-to-earth winemakers.
The lne-up for 2019 includes:
From the Pyrenees region:
- Dogrock Degraves Road Vineyard
- Blue Pyrenees Estate
- Wimmera Hills Winery
- Dalwhinnie Winery
- Summerfield Winery and Accommodation
- Glenlofty Estate Wines
- Amherst Winery
- Sally's Paddock (Redbank Winery)
- Taltarni Vineyards
- Peerick Wines
And from the Grampians region:
- Grampians Estate
- Clarnette and Ludvigsen wines
- Seppelt Wines
- Mount Langi Ghiran
- A.T. Richardson Wines
- Montara Wines
- Pomonal Estate
- Mountainside Wines
- Fallen Giants Vineyard
- Best's Wines - Great Western
Wine lovers, you do not want miss out on this event! There will be something for everyone including cheese, produce and music entertainment.
Early bird tickets $35 until the 26th July | Price includes souvenir glass and a 6 bottle cloth bag.
Tickets on the door $40 | The Red Series brought to you by Ballarat Volkswagen
“A completely gorgeous nose with dark cherry, pepper, spice, liquorice and clove. The palate is cool and composed with an excellent supple core of dark fruit and bold framing tannin. Beautifully medium-bodied with good savouriness on the close.”
Thanks to the delightful Toni Paterson for the lovely words on our Mule Variation on The Real Review.
We feel so proud to have received this amazing accolade so soon after opening our humble cellar door.
Thanks Gourmet Traveller WINE!
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