Toms Waterhole Wines will be hosting our first “Fermented Foods” festival at the winery on 17th/ 18th and 24th/25th October.
In conjunction with Orange Wine Week, we will have visiting French vignerons Phillipe and Aline from La Colline Wines in Orange to assist Graham and Jan in presenting a range of both cool climate and our warmer climate wines over a long ploughman’s lunch featuring local breads, cheeses, salamis, saurkraut, olives and olive oil. To find out more or make a booking for this event contact us.
The Happy Winemaker
A story for our time
Once upon a time a winemaker came to a small country town. He saw the green hills. He saw the clean river. He saw the rich soil and he felt the warm sun and he knew that this was the place to plant his precious Chardonnay grape vines
So he planted his grape vines on those green hills with the clean water and the rich soil and the warm sun and soon the vines were heavy with bunches of rich, fat golden grapes. And the winemaker took those rich fat golden bunches and pressed them and fermented them and made a rich fat luscious golden wine with just a hint of the green hills that the vines grew on. Then he stored the wine in the finest oak from the forest and after a time he bottled the wine and the people came from all around to taste this marvelous drink.
The winemaker became famous and throughout the world people begged for his wine and other people tried to copy it but none of them had green hills and clean water and rich soil and warm sun like his little country town. And the winemaker was happy and the people who drank his wine were happy and the winemaker even had hopes that he might become rich.
One day a narrow eyed man in a white coat knocked at the winemaker’s door. “Hello,” said the winemaker, “how can I help you?”
The narrow eyed man looked down his narrow nose at the winemaker. “I travel all over the world tasting wine,” said the man. “I know all there is to know about wine. I am an expert. If I like a wine I give it a star and if I don’t like a wine I write nasty things about it. Then my friends who live in big cities and drink coffee with froth on the top and watch themselves in mirrors will stop drinking the wine so I am very important. I have heard about your wine and I have come to taste it.”
The winemaker was a naturally polite person so he invited the narrow eyed man to taste his golden luscious wine. The man took a glass, swirled the wine around, looked at the colour, stuck his narrow nose in the top, took a sip and spat the wine on the floor.
“Aren’t you going to drink the wine?” asked the winemaker.
“I never drink the wine,” said the narrow eyed man. “That would spoil my sense of taste.” Then he looked at the wine again and looked at the winemaker. “You say this is Chardonnay?” he asked.
“Yes,” said the winemaker, now suddenly afraid.
“No,” said the narrow eyed man. “I have traveled all over the world and I have been in the land of frogs where they have been making Chardonnay for hundreds of years and where, you will agree, they know how to make Chardonnay. This is nothing like Chardonnay from the land of frogs. This isn’t proper Chardonnay at all.” he looked sternly at the winemaker. “Unless you start making Chardonnay like the Chardonnay from the land of frogs I will write nasty things about you and my friends in the city who drink coffee with froth on top and like to look at themselves in mirrors will not buy your wine.”
“What must I do?” asked the winemaker in great fear.
“In the land of frogs the hills are not green, the water is not clear, the soil is not rich, the sun is not warm and their oak barrels are old. You must copy that.” The narrow eyed man in the white coat turned to go. “And remember, I will be watching you and I will return.”
Afraid that he would lose his sales to the city people the winemaker began to change the way he grew his grapes and made his wine. He let the soil grow poor and the hills turn brown. He stopped giving his vines the clear water from the river. He picked the bunches of grapes before they became fat and golden in the sun. He stored the wine in stainless steel tanks and it never saw the oak of the forest.
True to his word the narrow eyed man in the white coat returned and tasted the wine. “This,” he said, “is more like the Chardonnay from the land of the frogs.”
“But most people tell me they don’t like it,” said the winemaker.
“Don’t worry about most people,” said the narrow eyed man. “I’m the only important person; me and my friends who drink coffee with froth on the top and watch themselves in mirrors.”
So the winemaker continued in his new style, making Chardonnay like the Chardonnay from the land of frogs and most people stopped drinking it and he began to lose money. “Help me,” he called to the narrow eyed man. “You say you are an expert. My business cannot survive. What should I do?”
“Your problem,” said the narrow eyed man “is Chardonnay. People, real people who drink coffee with froth on the top and look at themselves in mirrors, those people don’t like Chardonnay any more. But in the land of the frogs there is another grape called Marsanne. You should grow that instead.”
So the winemaker planted Marsanne. It did not make a very nice wine and not many people bought it so he called out to the narrow eyed man again.
“No, no, I didn’t say Marsanne,” said the narrow eyed man. “I said a grape from the land of bulls, Verdelho”
So the winemaker planted Verdelho and it didn’t make a very nice wine and not many people bought it so he called to the narrow eyed man again.
“Verdelho? Why did you plant Verdelho? No, you need to plant the vine from the land of spaghetti. You need to plant Pinot Grigio.”
So he planted Pinot Grigio and it didn’t make very nice wine and not many people bought it. So the winemaker turned to the narrow eyed man.
“I’m sorry,” said the winemaker, “but I can no longer make wine. I don’t like the wine I do make and the people don’t buy it so before I run out of money altogether I’m going to pull up all my grapes and grow wheat and canola in the rich soil and fatten sheep on the green hills and sit in the warm sun and catch fish in the clear river and I won’t ever again have to worry about narrow eyed men in white coats or city people who drink coffee with froth on it and watch themselves in mirrors.
And,” he said to himself, “on the top of the hill will be one small row of Chardonnay that will grow fat rich golden grapes and I will make a fat golden wine just for me.”
Waterhole Blend Cabernet Shiraz Merlot. In broad terms it is a return to our mainstream style with Cabernet now the driving character rather than the Shiraz of the previous release. It’s a blend of 45% 2008 Cabernet, 5% Cabernet salvaged from the wreck of the 2007 vintage, 5% of the very last of our 2006 Merlot and the balance from our yet to be released 2007 Shiraz. It’s dark red in colour, shows a distinct Cabernet spice nose but softened by the Shiraz chocolate (that’s a hint of what the 2007 Shiraz is like.) It is much softer than the straight Cabernet and has a beautiful plummy chocolate cake taste. It is, like all our past Waterhole Blends reds, a lovely “drink now” wine.
To order click here www.tomswaterhole.com.au/shopdisplayproducts.asp
Last week we sent a letter to all our suppliers advising them that in future our Sydney office would close and that GT and Judy would cease to be Directors of Toms Waterhole. So what’s happening?
For the last few months we have been undertaking a complete management review, not only of Toms Waterhole but also our two associated businesses, Balloon Joy Flights and BJF Catering (that’s the business we use for our catering activities such as plowman’s lunches and pizzas under the stars.) We have done this with the help of a grant from Cabonne Council and a management consultant from Canberra.
At the end of the review the conclusion was inescapable. we had to bring all three businesses together and make the obvious synergies between them work properly. That was the only way in which all three businesses were going to grow. And if we did it was crazy for GT to be CEO of Toms Waterhole, GK to be CEO of Balloon Joy Flights and Jan and Judy to be buzzing between them like bees in a bottle. So we have centralised our billing and accounting at the winery and GK has taken over as CEO of the combined businesses with Jan as Marketing Director and Company Secretary. GT and Judy still have their interest in Toms Waterhole (although for structural reasons it will be changed a bit) and, most importantly, retain their consulting and advisory responsibilities.
And when it comes down to the wines GK and GT are still going to fight it out every time a new vintage has to go into the bottle. We don’t, actually, know how to do it any other way.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s Dark Red With Purple Tinges, Showing A Typical Cannowindra Aroma Of Plums And Spices With Hints Of Marzipan. A Young Wine It Presents Assertive But Not Aggressive Tannins Combined With Vanillan French Oak. It Will Soften In The Bottle.
There Are Two Other Things We Should Tell You About It. The First Is That We Have Not Bottled All The Wine. After Our Revelation With The Barrel Aged 2006 Shiraz We Told You About A Few Months Back We Have Consigned Some To Two Year Old French Oak Barriques.
The 2009 Rose has made it to the bottle and it’s a beauty. Like the 2008 experimental release it’s just slightly off dry – the French call that demi-sec. It has the same shining pink colour, the same rich roses and crushed strawbwrries burst of flavour and that same tart citrus bite at the end but now it has something we can’t quite describe that takes it a step further. Whereas the 2008 had distinct sweet and sour flavours the 2009 is now an integrated whole. Now it just tastes “right.” – it’s made from Grenache grapes.
The 2008 wine was made from Shiraz and Shiraz is a great workhorse grape. You can make almost anything from it ranging from port through sparkling to even a passable dry white if you use activated charcoal to remove the red pigment. But its real purpose in life is to make big gutsy reds and anything else is kind of dumbing down which is what happens when you use it for Rose. To order on line now click here www.tomswaterhole.com.au/shopdisplayproducts.asp
Grenache, on the other hand, seems destined for Rose from the moment you see those dusty rust red berries on the vine and so it has proved for us. The new release is everything you loved about the 2008 but adds a length and depth that really does make it the red wine drinker’s white wine. To recognise this we have elevated it from our Humper’s range to equal billing with our Semillon and Chardonnay as a premium label wine. the only difference (apart, of course that the label is pink) is that it does not bear a vintage date. This is a statement by us that we don’t think you should cellar it. It’s a wine made for drinking while it is fresh and alive. A few years age will only weary it.