They say all things happen for a reason, which is perhaps why one of the Australian wine industry’s biggest mix ups, has led to one of Crittenden Estate’s most celebrated successes.
At the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show held on November 8 - 11, Crittenden Estate’s 2013 Cri de Coeur Savagnin won the trophy for best French Varietal and then went on to win the trophy for best White Wine of show.
Regarded by the industry as one of the best wine show’s in the country, The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) is a forum for wines that fall outside the mainstream. The show had more than 800 wines entered, made by 226 different producers, grown in 66 unique wine regions. Throughout the event, over 100 different grape varieties were tasted.
So how did this success come to be?
In 2008 many Australian vignerons, including Crittenden Estate, inadvertently planted Savagnin in the belief they were planting the Spanish variety Albarińo. However, upon a visit by France’s top vine identifier, Jean-Michael Boursiquot, the mistake was realised.
Whilst many winemakers attempted to graft vines, or even rip them out altogether, Crittenden Estate turned its focus to the home of Savagnin, the Jura region in France, and began ageing their tiny production under a yeast flor or ‘voile’ to add a nutty, oxidative quality to the wine. And so began a journey of education, perspiration and frustration, which has ultimately resulted in this highly acclaimed wine. A Cri De Coeur (cry of the heart) if ever there was one!
With the first vintage produced in 2011, Winemaker Rollo Crittenden has continued to evolve the wine making technique of this Jura style wine for the 2013 vintage.
Rollo said, “We never could have hoped to make such a highly regarded and now awarded wine when we embarked on this project. At first, we were just trying to salvage a bad situation and have a little fun along the way. It goes without saying that I am delighted to receive these awards for a wine that ultimately started as a viticultural mistake – especially from a wine show that I hold in such high regard.”
Apart from these AAVWS awards, industry experts have also shared their praises for Crittenden Estate’s 2013 Savagnin
“This wine is a triumph. A few Australian winemakers have attempted the style but Crittenden Estate has absolutely nailed it… it is one of the most intriguing and captivating wines I’ve tried this year”. Dave Brookes, The Adelaide Review, August 7th 2017
“The second release of this vin jaune-inspired white wine - savagnin aged for years in barrel under a layer of flor yeast - is even more outstanding than the first: gorgeous nuttiness and tangy complexity.” Max Allen, Gourmet Traveller, June 2017
"This has been so anticipated by me I nearly wet my pants opening the carton. Then it got lost in a blind line up of ‘other whites’ but so easily found. Smelling it makes me want to take a big gulp of it. Crittenden are the only people in Australia really, truly, taking their bounty of savagnin for table wines seriously". Mike Bennie, winefront.com.au, 17 May 2017
Crittenden Estate recently hosted it's annual Wine Alliance Spring Garden Party. An event exclusively for our Wine Alliance Club members, guests were able to enjoy a wide range of Crittenden Wines beautifully paired with Indonesian fare from Andrew Grinter's new venture Social in Blairgowrie.
Thank you to all who joined us and we look forward to doing it all again next year!
Here is a little video from the day
The vineyard has come to life in the past few weeks signalling the start of the growing season. A healthy cover crop can be found in the mid rows of the vineyard, with broad beans and snow peas amongst some of the crops. This will provide essential nitrogen for the vines along with plenty of options for spring salads and side dishes for the dinner table.
Work in the winery has been steady over winter. Our estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are developing nicely in barrel, where they will spend a few more months before blending and preparing for bottle. In the meantime we are preparing the 2017 Peninsula range of wines due for bottling in November. The core Peninsula range will be joined this year by a new Peninsula Rosé made entirely from Pinot Noir sourced from Main Ridge.
So far the wines are showing great promise. The whites are defined by great acidity, freshness and balance with the reds showing elegant fruit expression and fine detail. Drinkability will be a key feature of the 2017’s but they will cellar well if you can resist the temptation.
Matt Campbell, Assistant winemaker and winery manager
Winter has arrived. As the evenings get cooler, the fires are stoked and many of us start to enjoy our red wine even more.
So it’s a good time to think about what food pairs well with your favourite red. Our friends from Hillock Down Produce Store in Rye have provided us with this great, warming recipe that will go perfectly with our 2015 Crittenden Estate Kangerong Pinot Noir.
Polpette - Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
by Hillock Downs Produce Store
1 kilo Hillock Downs grass feed beef mince
150 grams of breadcrumbs
180 grams of Parmesan cheese greated finely
4 tablespoons of fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely
160 ml of olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
1 garlic clove
2 kilo of Hillock Downs passata sauce
2 bay leaves
Extra grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley to serve
500 g of your favourite pasta
Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley with the beef mince. Add 3 eggs first and mix well. Mixture should all come together. If it feels too dry, add the 4th egg. Roll mixture into balls. Heat oil in a pan that’s large enough to hold all the meat balls. Cook meatballs until golden brown as they brown lift them out. Fry onion and garlic until sautéed, then add the passata sauce. Add all of the browned meatballs back to pan with Passata sauce. Add bay leaves and simmer for 40 minutes. Cook pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Maniare!
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl and spoon meatballs over the top. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese and parsely.
2015 Crittenden Estate Kangerong Pinot Noir
ABOUT HILLOCK DOWNS PRODUCE STORE
We at Hillock Downs are committed to providing you with the best beef made by nature. We are MSA licenced producers and pasture certified which means there are no hormones and are antibiotic free animals. We make sure the animals are treated with the utmost respect. Our cattle are all born and raised right here on the farm using traditional and sustainable farming practices.
151 Dundas St, Rye
Tel: 0413 777 737
If you’re looking for some other great wine recommendations for this season, the following tipples will be just perfect for your winter months:
The steady hum of vintage has wound down to a gentle whisper of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir slowly finishing their ferments. 2017 has been a very promising vintage for Crittenden Estate, the journey to this point beginning around spring 2016.
Our vineyard sprung to life right on schedule and was followed by strong, healthy spring growth. The vineyards flowering period coincided with a cool spell in November, leading to reduced potential yields and a few nerves leading into summer. A hands on approach and attention to detail in the vineyard helped reduce the threat of disease from high humidity and heavy rainfall over the New Year period. A mild to warm summer ensued, along with timely rainfall, aiding the vineyard in the approach to harvest. For us, the 2017 vintage will be defined by the near perfect ripening conditions of late February and March. Mild days, cool nights and dry weather led to a stable, prolonged ripening for our grapes, with our various blocks picked at optimum balance and ripeness.
Things moved very smoothly in the winery this harvest. Batches of fruit arrived in timely fashion and were given their deserved full attention by the winery team. Time enough to put some premium Pinot Noir through our little basket press, gently extracting the skins, giving superb results. The whites exhibit lovely natural acidity, ripeness and balance. At this early stage the potential quality is very high. The Pinot Noirs have an elegant poise, fine subtle tannin and are less boisterous than 2016. They poses excellent expression of place and in time will become archetypical Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noirs.
With winter setting in the vineyard begins to shut down and winery slips back a gear or two. There is, however, plenty of work to do and the excitement of seeing the 2017 wines develop in barrel will provide ample inspiration.
Have you taken flight on The Eagle at Arthurs Seat yet? Indulged your senses at our onsite accommodation Lakeside Villas at Crittenden Estate? Combine the two along with a VIP Wine Experience here at The Crittenden Wine Centre and ensure that your stay on the Peninsula is one that refreshes all of your senses....
The package for two includes:
* 2 nights accommodation in a luxury Lakeside Villa.
* Bottle of Crittenden sparkling wine chilled on arrival.
* VIP Wine tasting for 2 people in the award winning Crittenden Wine Centre Breakfast hamper with locally sourced Peninsula produce.
* Locally produced 'olieve & olie' organic skin products gift hamper.
* Return flight for two adults on The Eagle at Arthurs Seat.
Mid week 2 night stay - $720 per couple, Weekend stay - $1020 per couple. Not available from 24 July - 4 August due to maintenance works on The Eagle. Click here for more details.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival [MFWF] has just concluded a long week of events for its twenty fifth year and what a week it was, coinciding as it did with the announcement of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World in Melbourne. It was generally agreed this year was the best yet and set a new benchmark for food and wine in this state.
On the Festival’s final night 140 guests were treated to a special dinner in the MFWF Wine and Food room in Little Lonsdale Street with Scott Pickett from Estelle Restaurant preparing an amazing line up of five courses.
This feature event was an opportunity for 12 MFWF “Wine Legends” to each host a table of 10 guests and match a range of their own and related wines to Scott’s menu. Same food but different wine for each table.
As a Legend I was invited to participate and searched my cellar from top to bottom for an appropriate pairing for each course. If you click HERE you can see the menu and the wines I matched to each dish. And to add to the fun I had the good fortune to have the redoubtable Adam Cash, late of Union Dining in Richmond and now at MAHA in the CBD acting as my sommelier for the night.
For reasons I’m not clear about, so popular was my table that I finished up hosting a group of 23 guests rather than the expected 10 and this required moving to a Private Dining Room. Here are two photos attached, one of me speaking to my guests and another of the 12 “Legends” who presented on the night. They and their wineries are named in the caption.
Bring on the 2018 Festival I say.
From Left to Right:
Julian Castagna, Castagna Wines. Pat Carmody, Craiglee. Sue Hodder, Wynns Coonawarra. Philip Jones, Bass Phillip. Mick Morris, Morris Wines. John Thompson, Crawford River. Gil De Pury, Yeringberg. Rick Kinzbrunner, Giaconda. Garry Crittenden, Crittenden Estate. Viv Thompson, Bests. Ron Laughton, Jasper Hill. Dominic Portet, Portet Wines. Iain Riggs, Brokenwood
Image credit @danmahonphotos
A number of years ago, while travelling through Spain, I discovered Marcona almonds; a rather different and dare I say superior nut to the common or garden variety almond widely known in Australia. On my return I thought I might plant a few trees at the vineyard and made the rounds of local wholesale fruit tree nurseries in search of some. Unfortunately I was met with a blank stare, no one in Australia was familiar with the Marcona variety. Undaunted I began to phone around fruit tree grower associations and, lo and behold, eventually found a girl in the bud wood import section of the Department of Primary Industry in Adelaide who proudly announced they were about to release the first ever stocks of Marcona buds in Australia. “Great” I said, “I’ll take 50 buds please, for grafting myself”. I was promptly told, however, that I wasn’t eligible as I wasn’t a registered fruit tree grower. Problem solved; I simply rang a colleague who was registered and asked him to graft the trees for me. I had 50 trees delivered in 15 cm pots a year later. I planted a dozen out on the property and sold or gave the rest to anyone who was interested. And in so doing I became the FIRST person ever to have this variety in Australia.
As the years have passed I’ve been increasingly frustrated at my inability to protect the small crops from the marauding cockatoos who absolutely obliterate the embryonic nuts long before they are anywhere ready for harvest. So as it turns out I’m most likely NOT the first person to harvest Marcona here, others who planted later may well have been more successful.
This year was different though, nothing was going to stop me and I spent a small fortune in protective measures. So here, finally, are my first crop of Marcona almonds. On the right (pictured below) we have the just harvested husks and on the left the shelled kernels.
I only wish I had enough to share with visitors to the Wine Centre….but maybe next year!
By Garry Crittenden
As a boy growing up in Brisbane I didn’t know any family named Crittenden other than the one I belonged to, and it was made up entirely of my mother and father brother and sister. To this day I am unaware of any connected relations bearing my family name.
In the early 1960’s I moved to Melbourne (alone) and by the mid 60’s in my early 20’s had developed a modest interest in wine. One day I attended a wine tasting [yes, they had them back then] at, of all places, Burney Horticultural College.
Imagine my surprise when another of the attendees on introducing himself to ask a question said “I’m Doug Crittenden, wine-merchant”. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. It was the first time I had encountered anyone claiming to share my name. Needless to say I soon introduced myself and so began my lifelong friendship with an icon of the retail wine business in Melbourne and for that matter the whole of Australia.
It’s a matter of record now that roughly 20 years after that chance encounter I planted five acres of grapes on the Mornington Peninsula and in so doing doubled the then total plantings; today there are in excess of 2500 acres under grape vines here. Needless to say I was then and still am constantly asked whether Doug was my father?, uncle?, cousin?, you name it. People react with surprise when I say I’m no relation. And I’ll warrant that many of you reading this would have been familiar with and shopped at Doug’s store and most likely known the gregarious man himself. Doug died in late 2014 aged 91 and its estimated that upwards of 300 people attended his memorial service at St Johns in Toorak.
Over the years Doug, at his various shops but particularly at his Hawksburn store, became a firm supporter of our family wines. In 1999 he and his wife Judy faxed me a lovely letter congratulating me on the sale of our families one millionth bottle of wine. As a matter of interest I reproduce it here. Of course, I was a regular visitor to the Hawksburn store and soon became familiar with the adjoining, and equally as famous, Peter Bouchier’s butcher shop.
BACK TO THE FUTURE and the Crittenden name returns to Hawksburn Village, Peter Bouchier has just become a stockist of a range of our wines, AND what’s more, the original letter from Doug and Judy sits framed there and proudly on display in memory of times past.
Go in and take a look!
GARRY CRITTENDEN, DROMANA, APRIL 2017.
Wallara is an innovative, sector leading support service based in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs. Their official website is www.wallara.com.au. A dinner and Auction night on the 23rd of March is to raise funds to assist with this wonderful organisation's efforts to assist those in our community who have a disability "live the life they want to lead". We are proudly donating all wine for the evening. Tickets for the evening are $295 but have unfortunately sold out.