Bucket Society Journal Autumn/Winter 2012 Hello Bucket Society Members,
The team at Ballabourneen Wine Co.
Yes it’s that glorious time of year when you receive your Bucket Society Members pack, lucky you! Hopefully you are enjoying a few days off at Easter so you can fully appreciate your wine packs. A lot has happened since the last time we sent you your wines. Vintage was in full swing from January through March and as you will read in Dan’s vintage report, this year in the Hunter Valley was extremely challenging. The Ballabourneen winemaking team has also extended and we welcome some new characters to the family; Mark Robinson (Robbo) who is helping Daniel (Buckets) out in the winery and cellar hand Sarah Clancy (of the overflow) named for her ability to curtsy and turn difficult situations into plausible ones (i.e overfilling barrels and tanks to Dan’s dismay!). We have had continued success from wine journalists and if you weren’t already aware; James Halliday has awarded us HHHHH and Peter Bourne has given the Gamay Noir a big wrap, more on this later.
From all of the Ballabourneen team we thank you for your support, it means a great deal to us and we look forward to seeing you throughout the year. Don’t forget to give us a call if you are planning a trip so we can really spoil you with a relaxed tasting experience on the terrace. With advanced warning we can arrange for you to be able to sample our latest releases along with a gourmet cheese platter. Here’s to you ... Cheers!
Th e tea m a t Win e Co. n e e n r u o b a ll a B
You can find all your favourite wines at Members prices online at
Let’s socialise and stay connected
Buckets’ Word On Vintage 2012 Wet, wet, wet is all I can say about the 2012 Hunter Vintage.The rain came and stayed causing an increase in the amount of grey hairs on my head and also on Matilda’s. The Hunter was hit with persistent downpours followed by the Riverina, Hilltops and Mudgee, making this the wettest vintage since the 70s with around 80% of Hunter‘s grapes lost... far worse than the 2008 vintage where we picked the whites but lost 50% of the reds. Ballabourneen has sourced fruit from South Australia and Queensland this year (hi to all our cane toad friends and Southern cousins). We were able to source some Shiraz from the Granite Belt and thus far it is looking bloody good! Between the periods of the deluges of rain we did manage to hand pick a small amount of Chardonnay and Semillon from the Major’s Lane Vineyard proving that great vineyards always pull through. The surprise this year however was the Verdelho which ripened beautifully in the tough conditions, due to its thick skins, open bunches and tough foliage which helped to protect it from disease and rot. The end result is a tropically fragrant wine that will please all lovers of Verdelho and convert lovers of Sauvignon Blanc.
We are also pleased to announce a new addition to our stable. The 2012 Ballabourneen Pinot Grigio which will be released in June and is a perfect food wine with great texture, slight hint of colour and a lovely pear aroma. I am very pleased with it and looking forward to drinking large amounts of it at Christmas with the Italian part of the family, and gaining brownie points with the in-laws. Now, onto reds ... I didn’t pick a single berry of Shiraz for Balla. It just didn’t get there and I wasn’t going to produce something that I wouldn’t drink myself. This was really disappointing as earlier on in the year it was looking fantastic. The non-traditional varieties fared well and we were able to pick the Gamay Noir, Chambourcin, Muscat (Moscato) and another new exciting wine too ... the “B.N.G” Barbera, Nebbiolo and Grenache (a mouthful to say hence the abbreviation to BNG... a good Aussie tradition of shortening names). We picked all the varieties at the same time and fermented it together producing a seductive wine with spicy Christmas cake aromas and velvety tannins ... but you are just going to have to wait for this one as it needs a good year in oak to be a great red. If you love our Shiraz then you are sure to enjoy this blend a ... great wine to enjoy with your mates over dinner as it is a very unusual blend, sure to get the discussion going!
Daniel Binet Winemaker/Director
Tasting notes for your 2012 Autumn Member Packs 2011 Ballabourneen Semillon From a stand-out 2011 vintage generally in the Hunter, this wine won a Gold Medal in the Hunter Valley Wine Show current vintage class before it was even released! And so, once again, the Majors Lane vineyard shows why it has a wonderful reputation for producing wines with a backbone of steel and the power to age. On the nose it is showing flintiness, lemon oil, and fresh mown hay. First impressions on the palate speak a limey smoothness, lemons and oyster shells. The finish says depth and bite with enough zippy acid to see it develop well into this decade and beyond. At 10.8% alcohol, it makes the perfect luncheon wine to partner oysters, lightly pan-fried flathead tails, creamy carbonara or smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis. With this beautiful breeding it is destined to mature into a classic thoroughbred; sleek, classy but with the strength and endurance to run a long race into the future. Enjoy young or cellar for 10 years. 2011 Ballabourneen Verdelho Guava, apples, peaches, nectarines, pineapple and lemon blossom; a veritable fruit salad in a glass! Wow, what a nose! And such a palate to follow: dry, yet full of stone fruit and so tangy, with a long citrus finish. This is contemporary Verdelho at its best! Try this wine with a classy gourmet omelette stuffed with smoked salmon and avocado or with thin slices of brie and grilled zucchini. Fry up some haloumi and serve with wedges of toasted ciabatta plus a green leaf salad concoction. Feel your taste buds come alive when it is all washed down with this amazingly vibrant Verdelho. Enjoy now or cellar for 5 years. 2011 Viognier No other way to describe this but classic! Classic Viognier nose; honey and hay, apricots, and pear liqueur. Classic Viognier palate; subtle front palate acid balancing superbly the middle palate of rich, ripe pear with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Soft and mouth-filling, refreshing but satisfying, with a hint of ginger on the finish. Try it with Caesar salad and lots of parmesan cheese shavings, garlic prawns, eggplant parmigiana or honey soy lemon chicken. Enjoy now or cellar for 4 years. 2010 The Stuart Chardonnay This wine is dedicated to Ballabourneen’s founder, Alex Stuart. Only the very best wines from the very best years are awarded the name that graced our 2003 Stuart Chardonnay, winner of multiple trophies. The grapes for this wine were carefully handpicked from the Majors Lane Vineyard in Lovedale, fermented in French oak barrels and allowed 10 months maturation “sur lees”. The result is a classic Hunter Chardonnay, with subtly integrated oak, balanced with fine acidity to support the vibrant aromas of ripe melon and white peach. Enjoy now or cellar for 5-7 years.
Tasting notes for your
2011 Ballabourneen Gamay Noir Immediately intriguing with its wonderful garnet colour, this tantalising Beaujolais-style red is the perfect entree to Spring/Summer drinking. Aromas of cherries fresh off the tree, mixed with a little tar and violets suggest a road-side picnic in the French countryside! While dry and savoury on the palate, there is a touch of cherry sweetness to ensure the fruit flavours linger all the way to the finish. Throw me a baguette, some herbed roast chicken, home-made aioli, sun-dried tomato with baby spinach leaves, a slightly chilled Ballabourneen Gamay Noir, and I’m in heaven! And if you really have to stay inside, cook up some sweet chilli salmon and see the sparks fly with this wine. Enjoy now or cellar for up to 4 years.
2010 Buckets Shiraz/Cabernet Buckets’ Shiraz is fast becoming an iconic Hunter style Shiraz. Deep cherry red in colour, with rich ripe berry fruit aromas a hint of tobacco and dark chocolate. This savoury red has a fine oak structure and is an elegant food friendly wine with a persistent mouth watering finish. Enjoy now or cellar for 5 years. 2010 Ballabourneen Shiraz When only the best will do! This is a sophisticated Shiraz, with fruit sourced from McLaren Vale SA and Hilltops (near Young, NSW) and carefully blended with grapes from one of the Hunter Valley’s iconic vineyards. Aniseed and tar, roses with some wild berries, introduce a wine of power but finesse as well. The tannins are assertive though not aggressive, chalky and supple without being drying. Berry fruit fleshes out a sturdy acid skeleton, and the wine finishes long and satisfyingly. This is the wine to put with slow-cooked lamb shanks (with potato and garlic mash swimming in loads of gravy) or a “stand-your-spoon-up” minestrone. Finish the night with the same Ballabourneen Shiraz, creamy blue cheese and a bitter dark chocolate. Cellar for 5-10 years (if you have the willpower).
2012 Autumn Member Packs
2010 The Three Amigo’s Traditional red varieties of Bordeaux make up this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot sourced from the exciting “new” region of Orange NSW and McLaren Vale in South Australia. Aromas of blackcurrant, cedar, cherries and cinnamon assail the nose and the first impression is “rich” like plum sauce! Fine, chalky tannins line the palate, and together with a backbone of life-giving acid, provide a framework for all those indulgent fruit flavours. No other word for it, this wine is a “cracker”! A must for lovers of velvety, satisfying berry-fruit-filled reds. The ultimate match for a thick, juicy steak, gnocchi with creamy mushroom sauce or a wonderful cheddar by the fire. If you are really, really strong get a case, cellar it, try a bottle or two every 6 months and watch nature do its magic. Cellar for 5-7 years. 2010 Reserve Shiraz Alexander the Great The legendary Alexander the Great was a Macedonian King who established the huge ancient Persian Empire. He loved the flute, the lyre, poetry, and celebrating his victories with excellent wine in the company of good men and women. Our very own Alexander Stuart OAM was a famous builder who established the modern Ballabourneen Empire. He loves rock music, poetry in motion (ie rugby), and celebrating each week with excellent wine in the company of good men and women! Ballabourneen’s 2010 Reserve Shiraz is sourced from 30 year old Hunter vines. Rich and savoury with great length and a robust finish, it is a wine made to age, and as such, a fitting tribute to our very own Alexander the Great! Cellar for 5-10 years and witness the story turning into a legend!
The Brave Liqueur Shiraz NV A rich and luscious blend of Shiraz wine fortified with brandy spirit. The nose is full with plums and spice and the palate abounds with sweet fruit and a long lingering finish. This will warm the cockles of your heart on a cold winter’s evening. This fortified wine is named in honour of our founders Alex and Di Stuart’s Scottish heritage. Scotland ‘The Brave’. Enjoy now or cellar for 5-7 years. 2011 Sparkling Moscato Carrying on the fine Ballabourneen tradition of fabulous wines in this style, the 2011 will not disappoint! Glorious candy-floss pink, the blush colour previews the nose of Turkish delight and rose petals. The palate is not as sweet as you might suspect; strawberries and cream are balanced with fresh acidity and a subtle frizzante bubble. While not technically a dessert wine, this sparkling moscato will sit happily alongside most fruit-based finales. How about some lemon tart with a berry coulis and maybe some thick cream for the cholesterol-unchallenged! But don’t be restricted. Try it with croissants and jam, cucumber sandwiches or strawberry sponge cake. Great with pre-dinner nibbles; little chilli prawn skewers or crushed ice in the glass and a sorbet with wafers. In fact, enjoy almost any time! Enjoy now.
An Inter view with our OAM, Alex Stuart A friendship developed and I thought that anyone who could drink with me continually must be a good bloke. When he decided to leave Capercaillie he contacted me and we agreed to go into partnership ... so the Ballabourneen story continues.
Alex Stuart (pictured) is the founder of Ballabourneen Wine Co. and was recently awarded the prestigious Order of Australia medal for his services to the Construction Industry, Wine and Tourism industries and Community Service. This month we spend a little time with Alex, getting to know the ‘man behind the wine brand’. As founder of Ballabourneen, what inspired you to become involved in the wine industry? Whilst visiting the Hunter in 1993 my wife Di and I were both taken with the beauty of the area and what it has to offer. Given it’s two hours from Sydney, we decided to try and find a small property to use as a retreat. Up ‘til then my only experience with wine was what I’d consumed. After purchasing the 17 acres I was inspired to cut out the middle men and grow and have my own wine made. I am living proof that any idiot with a cheque book can get into the wine industry. What I found out is that it takes a lot of work and a good sense of humour to stay in the industry. One of the most appealing factors is that there are a lot of real people involved in the wine industry who have a passion for their product and for the area that overcomes the challenges and difficulties of growing grapes in the Hunter Valley.
And deciding on the name Ballabourneen? The road where our vineyard was located is called The Ballabourneen. I found a 1952 mining map with the name Ballabourneen directly where the vineyard was located which is opposite the Old North Road, the convict built road from Sydney and Parramatta. It is of Gaelic (Irish) origins and literally translated means town road or city road. How would you describe the style of wines that Ballabourneen creates? Both Daniel and I are passionate about Hunter style wines. The Hunters new breed of winemakers like Dan, are producing modern, mediumbodied,’food friendly’ style wines and also are attracting the younger wine drinkers. We are still producing that classic savoury Hunter wine but it’s balanced with fresh fruit, softer tannin and gentler touch of oak. How did you meet winemaker Daniel (Buckets) Binet? I first met Dan when he started as assistant winemaker for the late Alasdair Sutherland at Capercaillie. Alasdair entrusted Dan to make our 2004 Chardonnay which he entered into the NSW Young Winemaker of the Year competition. Daniel was selected as a finalist in the competition with this wine. We participated in numerous tastings so that we could agree on a style we could both live with.
What does a typical week include? I use the excuse of having to go the cellar door each day as a reason to escape the house and the endless list of chores that never seems to get shorter. Both Di and I work each Saturday at the Cellar Door as it keeps us in touch with the business and more importantly, our customers and members. In addition I am still involved in the tourism industry in the Hunter, though not as much as before, and this also keeps me fairly active in other pursuits. Grandchildren and home duties take up the rest in between a fairly active social life as that is compulsory in the Hunter Valley. What is your favourite food and wine match? So many wines and so much food over many years it is hard to name favourites but a bottle of 1989 St Henri stands out and anything with rare meat in it. What do you drink at home? Not in any particular order but beer, wine and scotch and not all at once. What do you love about Ballabourneen? I love the family feeling we have at Ballabourneen and having my wife Di involved. We both get tremendous satisfaction working with Daniel and Natalie and the Ballabourneen team in creating a wine company that produces a quality product and growing the company with the involvement of a small number of passionate, dedicated and fun people. Who is your fantasy dinner guest? Any person who has an enquiring mind, a great conversationalist, different life experiences, a well developed and slightly black sense of humour and is ‘not up themselves’.
Welcom e to Th e Dairy
Stay 2 nights at The Dairy (weekend) and receive: • 2 bottles of Ballabourneen wine • Gourmet cheese plate • Private tasting for 2 at cellar door $500 - Members only offer
Th e quintessential Hu nter Valley Experience Disy’s Dinner Party Recipes
Ingredients 60g Butter 2 green shallots, chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil 250g Marinara Mix or fresh - squid, fish, prawns, mussels and octopus 2 tablespoons plain flour 1 cup cream 2 tablespoons dry sherry 8 sheets fillo pastry 60 g butter, melted, extra 1. Melt butter in large saucepan, add shallots, garlic, basil, stir constantly over heat for about 2 minutes. 2. Stir marinara mix into pan, stir for 3 minutes. 3. Add flour to pan stir constantly over heat until combined. Gradually stir in cream and sherry, stir constantly over high heat for 3 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens. Cover surface of mixture with plastic to prevent skin forming, cool to room temperature. 4. Layer 4 sheets of pastry together, brushing each with melted extra butter, then placing the next sheet on top. Repeat with remaining pastry. Cut the 2 pieces of layered pastry in half. 5. Place a quarter of cooled mixture in the centre of each piece of layered pastry. Draw each corner of pastry up and twist each form to a rope. Wrap ropes around top of parcels. 6. Place parcels onto oven trays, brush all over with butter. Bake moderately hot oven for about 15 minutes or until browned. Makes 4 Perfect Wine Match These scrumptious little parcels will go swimmingly well with the Buckets of Hunter 2006 Semillon currently on special 6 bottles for $60.
Ballabourneen’s Annual Member Lu nch eon
The Feast of Winter Members and Member’s Guests very welcome
Saturday 30th June, 12 noon to 5pm 113 Wilderness Rd Lovedale NSW 2320 (the new winery) $130 per head includes feasting on 4 courses paired with Ballabourneen wines and bottle of Ballabourneen Port (bottled by you). Join us for a great afternoon of fun and frivolity. By popular demand Wheeze and Suck will be playing.
To book call 02 4998 6505 or or email Jenny email@example.com • Numbers are limited Coming soon Ballabourneen’s Feast of Spring November 2012
Recent Media Reviews
“Binet has picked up (Len Evans’) fruit, releasing it u nder h is Ballabourneen label.”
Alex says h e proud of receiving th e Order of Australia Medal… adding “Anything achieved has not been by myself. Th ere have been a lot of competent and worthwhile people with m e.”
From th e Library
THE IDEAL WINE-WAITER
A recent trip to a local second hand book store proved fruitful. Dan discovered a little book called A Businessman’s Guide to Wine published 1971.
Which brings us, as an aside, to a few remarks about that rare creature, the ideal wine-waiter. He deserves your appreciation and attention not only because of what you can learn from him. The way a good wine waiter behaves to his customers is the way in which you should behave with your guests when serving them wine at home. Until recently, wine-waiters were generally phonies who knew nothing about the subject, but were prepared to let everybody else suffer in the process. Couple this with a small knowledge of wine in the customer, and you have a tormented situation in which the wine-waiter, concealing his ignorance beneath an overbearing condescension, so intimidates his customer that he takes whatever wine is forced upon him without a murmur. The bad wine-waiter comes in two types. There is the obvious bungler who comes out holding the bottle by the neck, slams it down on the table, sends bits of cork and foil slashing in all directions, and finally sloshes a bottle of wine into the glass for a taste, pouring the rest before anyone has a chance to accept it or not. If it’s white, he will throw it crunchingly into a can of ice and leave it to fester. You might get a bit more
attention from him while you’re drinking the wine; but I would say that you’re lucky if you don’t. After all, restaurants are expensive enough without having to add the costs of incipient ulcers and dry-cleaning bills. The other type is just as bad but in a different way. He is all style and panache. He behaves like winewaiters do in Hollywood films, and can clearly see himself serving the stars rather than you. He is so obtrusive in his handling of the bottle, and the pouring of it, working with a desperate deftness seen only in the acts of naked balloon dancers working with ping-pong balls, (B - “Yes this is the actual text written!”) that he can ruin the equilibrium of a whole table and destroy an evening. We are not worthy of such consummate and obvious skill, we think. Someone is bound to find out and set us to the washing-up without delay ... The best wine-waiters are like the best doctors, they are expert, well informed, respectful and unobtrusive in their treatment of you. And if they behave like this, they immediately make the meal more enjoyable; which is not such a fatuous remark as it sounds - most restaurants are definitely not enjoyable!
Please note - you will need a glass of wine after reading this and thank God for screwcap’s. Here are the basic rules of winewaiting; and also of serving wine in the home: 1. Wine should be brought to the table immediately as it is ordered, and opened. There are three reasons for this. One is that you can start drinking and appreciating the wine while waiting for the food to come. The second is that the wine chosen may take a little time to breathe and come up to its full quality. The third reason is that if the wine-waiter waits to serve his wine at the same time as the food waiter serves his food, there will be a mad scramble round the table, and neither the food nor the wine will be appreciated when it arrives with anything like the proper respect. 2. The bottle should be brought to the table carefully and tenderly, one hand under the base, the neck lying in the palm of the other hand, carried in front of the chest with a certain air of reverence. Carrying wine any other way shakes it up and if the bottle is crusted, this means that the encrustation is going to spread through the wine. It also shows a certain respect for the wine which has been respected in turn by both the waiter, and the lucky drinker.
3. For the rest we can do not better than to quote from Frank Margan’s book The Grape and I: “At the table I want the waiter to appear before me with the bottle carried (as above), the label pointing away from home and towards me. To see it properly I want the waiter to push his bottom hand forward and pull his top hand back gently in the action of proffering the label. Then I want him to retire to the quietest corner of my table, or to a serving table a few feet away and expertly open the bottle. The quick movements of the hands, the swift slitting of the foil cap, the plunging of the corkscrew, the slight turn of the bottle to locate the screw in the centre of the cork, the quick gently levering of the cork from the neck these are the things I want to see.” 4. The waiter should then pour out a half-ounce portion into a glass for the assessment by the host. From this you can check the condition of the wine, that it is clear and brilliant, that it has no off-odours, bottle stink, or acetic odours. It also makes sure that any cork particles are collected by you, and not by your guests.
5. When the wine is approved, the waiter should quickly and quietly move round the table in a clockwise direction filling each glass in turn whether it be a man before a woman or not. He should only fill the glasses two-third full so that you and the guests can appreciate the bouquet of the wine. 6. Then he should disappear. He can either leave the bottle on the table, or on a serving table. You can either pour yourself, or the waiter can do it; but if he does it he should keep an eye on the glasses and make sure that you and the guests are not left sitting at the table with large thirsts and empty glasses. That is the way to serve wine, and to use it well in the servingsomething wine richly deserves, and seldom gets.
Excerpts from: A Businessman’s Guide to Wine by Michael Boddy and Jason Publications
Upcoming Events and Wine Releases April
Member Packs Arrive
May 6 13
Hunter’s Hill Wine Festival Mothers Day Picnic Moore Park, Sydney
June 22 - 24 Sydney Good Food & Wine Show Feast of Winter, Hunter Valley 30 Tickets Available Now August TBA Sydney Member’s Dinner Details to follow 14 Ferrogusto, Canada Bay’s Italian Festival October Member Packs Arrive November Feast of Spring, Hunter Valley 17 Details will be announced in the October newsletter. December Merry Christmas
Buckets has been creating some exciting new varieties to add to the portfolio. Ballabourneen 2012 Hunter Valley Pinot Grigio Release date June Ballabourneen 2011 Hunter Valley Tempranillo Release date June
Ballabourneen 2012 B.N.G Hunter Valley (Barbera, Nebbiolo & Grenache) Released 2013 if Dan stops drinking it out of the barrel!