GOLD IN GLASS FORM

CRIM­I­NALS CAME FOR GOLD, FARM­ERS CAME FOR WOOL BUT A SE­LECT FEW CAME TO THIS RE­GION TO PLANT A WIN­NING VINE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | FOOD & WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ

It was 1878 when Ned Kelly and his band of bushranger­s were drawn to the Strath­bo­gie re­gion in coun­try Vic­to­ria by the pros­per­ity of the re­gion’s wool pro­duc­tion.

Our most in­fa­mous bushranger and his hench­men suc­cess­fully robbed the Euroa Bank of $2000 pounds in cash and a stash of gold.

Fast for­ward 100 years and the same re­gion piqued the in­ter­est of Dr Peter Tin­dall who saw the po­ten­tial of the dis­trict as a vini­cul­tural site and planted the first com­mer­cial vine­yard at Mt He­len.

Dr Tin­dall must have ei­ther had great fore­sight or a good knowl­edge of ge­ol­ogy, as the de­com­posed gran­ite in the sub ter­rain has pro­duced acidic sandy loam soils which, when cou­pled with mod­er­ate elevation, have made it ideal for grow­ing pinot noir, sauvi­gnon blanc and chardon­nay.

Th­ese days, there are 20 to 30 winer­ies in the lo­cale and be­ing only about an hour and a half’s drive from the Melbourne CBD, it’s a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for day trip­ping tourists.

Maybe be­cause it’s a pic­turesque part of the world with windswept ranges punc­tu­ated by red gums and stringy­barks that cling to the craggy out­crops along­side an­cient grass trees.

But for me, it’s all about the wines.

Some of the first winer­ies to be es­tab­lished in the Strath­bo­gie Ranges weren’t fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful.

But now there are a grow­ing num­ber of lo­cal pro­duc­ers mak­ing their mark in a com­pet­i­tive na­tional mar­ket.

Some of the bet­ter-known ones in­clude Fowles Wines, Dalatite, Mitchel­ton and Elgo Es­tate.

None are large scale so a visit is quite a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, but the down­side is that some­times it can be dif­fi­cult to source their wares lo­cally.

In my book though, there’s some­thing en­chant­ing about find­ing a gem of a wine by a lit­tle-known pro­ducer or from a wine re­gion that flies un­der the radar.

So I don’t mind that the search can at times be­come a jour­ney.

One of Strath­bo­gie’s ris­ing stars is Costanzo and Sons; a small fam­ily run op­er­a­tion at Tames Rd, Strath­bo­gie.

Own­ers Joe Costanzo and Cindy Heath craft a range of sin­gle vine­yard wines from fruit grown on their prop­erty.

No in­sec­ti­cides or pes­ti­cides are used in the vine­yard as bio­dy­namic and or­ganic prac­tices are pre­ferred.

The fruit is hand­picked and once in the win­ery, the grapes are care­fully man­aged and then vini­fied us­ing min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion and tra­di­tional prin­ci­ples.

Their stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion has prob­a­bly been earned on the back of their out­stand­ing Sin­gle Vine­yard Re­serve pinot noir which al­ways rates very highly.

But it was their re­cently-re­leased 2016 Kin­ship Chardon­nay which, AC/DC style, had my taste­buds shak­ing all night long.

It per­haps lacks the depth of colour in the glass that we of­ten see in bold young chardies, but it was the per­fect duet of op­u­lence and el­e­gance.

On the nose, there were hints of peach and hazel­nuts but once on the lips, nec­tarines led the charge across the mid-palate be­fore a creamy bis­cuit or nougat mouth­feel emerged at the back end.

On the fin­ish there’s a hint of chalky gun flint and enough min­er­al­ity to keep the en­er­getic fruit in check.

At $40 or so a bot­tle, it’s not cheap, but qual­ity comes at a price.

Look for it on­line or visit the Costanzo and Sons web­site at www.costanzo.com.au.

To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views go to traviss­chultz.com.au

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