New­com­ers off to a fly­ing start

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - James Halliday

AL­LIES is one of the most im­pres­sive new winer­ies of the 1000-plus such ven­tures I have en­coun­tered over the past five years. Own­ers Bar­ney Flan­ders and David Chap­man de­scribe it as a col­lab­o­ra­tion, partly re­flect­ing that for the first three years (start­ing in 2003) it was a vir­tual win­ery, own­ing nei­ther vine­yards nor win­ery.

Both men started their work­ing lives in restau­rants, Flan­ders on the floor, Chap­man mi­grat­ing be­tween floor and kitchen. Flan­ders was the first to move to wine, grad­u­at­ing from Charles Sturt Univer­sity with a wine science de­gree in 1999, there­after work­ing as a fly­ing wine­maker in Vic­to­ria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula and Yarra Val­ley, Trentino in Italy, the Sonoma Coast in Cal­i­for­nia, and fi­nally Cote Rotie, France.

Chap­man quit restau­rants in 2004, work­ing as a vine­yard man­ager and has been a part-time stu­dent at Charles Sturt since then. Moorooduc Es­tate, on the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula, be­came the ce­ment to lock the pieces to­gether: the pair worked there for sev­eral years and were given the run of the win­ery to make their (ad­mit­tedly small) first three vin­tages.

Ob­vi­ously, the part­ners had con­sid­er­able col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence by this time but I would guess Moorooduc wine­maker-owner Rick McIn­tyre pro­vided a great sound­ing board.

In 2006 they took over man­age­ment of the Mer­ricks Grove Vine­yard, also in the Morn­ing­ton, and leased space at the Dro­mana Es­tate win­ery, giv­ing them con­trol over all as­pects of wine­mak­ing. By this time they had de­vel­oped a clear wine­mak­ing phi­los­o­phy.

‘‘ We like wines that show in­ten­sity with­out be­ing over­ripe. Our pref­er­ence is for sub­tle, com­plex wines rather than wines with strong mono-di­men­sional char­ac­ters,’’ they say. ‘‘ We like the flavours and ef­fect of oak, but it must be in sym­pa­thy with the fruit in­ten­sity.’’ Fine words, you might think, but what about the wine? Ac­tu­ally, the words pre­cisely de­scribe the wines’ el­e­gance, har­mony and fi­nesse.

The en­tree is the 2006 Saone Viog­nier ($24, 94 points, 200 cases), named af­ter the river that runs from Bur­gundy to the north­ern end of the Rhone Val­ley. It con­tains 11 per cent chardon­nay and is bar­rel fer­mented with wild yeasts in old French oak bar­riques. It is not al­lowed to un­dergo mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion but is bar­rel aged for nine months with oc­ca­sional lees stir­ring to build mouth­feel. It has strong va­ri­etal ex­pres­sion, with apri­cot blos­som aro­mas flow­ing through to give a pre­dom­i­nant, though not ag­gres­sive, im­pact. The chardon­nay is a seam­less com­po­nent (the blend­ing ses­sion would have been fas­ci­nat­ing), mak­ing for a viog­nier that, un­usu­ally, will match a wide range of food.

The 2006 Garag­iste Chardon­nay ($36, 94 points, 150 cases) dif­fers from the viog­nier with the in­clu­sion of 36 per cent new French oak and the use of sev­eral pun­cheons as well as bar­riques. The chardon­nay (like that of the viog­nier) comes from the ex­cel­lent French clones 76 and 95, grown at Yabby Lake un­der the di­rec­tion of viti­cul­tur­ist Keith Har­ris.

It is very classy, pure and el­e­gant, the cit­rus and nec­tarine fruit with im­mac­u­lately bal­anced oak, the flavour last­ing through to the fin­ish. With the mod­est 13 per cent al­co­hol and the screw­cap it will coast through to 2013.

Its sis­ter, the 2006 Garag­iste Pinot Noir ($35, 94 points, 200 cases), is bril­liantly clear, set­ting the scene for the se­duc­tive dark cherry and plum aro­mas and flavours, great tex­ture and struc­ture, and all the length one could wish for. Like the chardon­nay, it is only 13 per cent al­co­hol and sealed with a screw­cap, and should live for an equally long time.


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