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
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