Winemaking trio roll out $135K fundraiser for CFA Victoria
Media release, February 23, 2009
An En Primeur/futures fundraising offer initiated and created by John Ellis (Bellvale Wines), Tom Carson (Serrat and Yabby Lake) and David Bicknell (Oakridge Wines). Barrels from Mercurey and Francois Freres, packaging from C-Pak, screwcaps from Alcan, labels from Graphix and design work from Tucker Design.
2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir – En Primeur
Delivery April 2010
$300 per six pack, including delivery anywhere in Australia
450 six packs available
Please note: ALL proceeds from this offer will go to the CFA!
It has been a harrowing and moving time. Every Australian has been reminded of the extraordinary fragility and capricious nature of our unique and beautiful landscape. The scale and force of the Victorian bushfire disaster has brought an equal and opposite reaction of individual courage, generosity of spirit and remarkable selflessness. Fundraising events throughout the country are now in full swing to help provide much-needed financial aid to the fire-affected communities in Victoria.
When fully subscribed this special primeur offer of 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will raise $135,000 for the Country Fire Authority Victoria (CFA). This frontline volunteer fire-fighting organisation has astonished the Australian community (and the world) with its superb operational skill, dedication and bravery. These proceeds will go towards helping the CFA re-equip and prepare for the next bushfire season.
A CFA Region 13 unit came to winemaker Tom Carson and partner Nadege Sune’s rescue on Black Saturday. Their Serrat Vineyard lies in the heart of the Yarra Valley near Healesville. A change in wind direction pushed the Maroondah fire line through the vineyard, its sheer ferocity burning the vines, melting the drip irrigation lines and destroying the shed and tractor. It is still difficult to know exactly at this stage, but up to a half of the eight-year-old vineyard has been razed. The entire crop has been lost. Although their garden was burned to the ground, the house has survived intact and the family are safe. ‘Although we are living in a scene of devastation, we are extremely lucky. There are many poor people who have lost everything, including their lives.’
John Ellis, an ex US Navy/Pan Am/Qantas pilot, part-time nurseryman and general optimist, established his Bellvale Vineyard at Berry’s Creek near Leongatha in Gippsland ten years ago. Curiously, he was one of the pioneering vignerons of Long Island, New York during the 1970s. He would tend his vines on his brief breaks from the gruelling US Europe flight schedules. In the end he gave it up because ‘the winemaking was so hopeless’ and opened a nursery instead. The Bellvale venture is a personal obsession and the intent is to make great pinot noir. Ellis has picked up plenty of advice along the way from some of Victoria’s top pinot noir specialists including Tom Carson of Yabby Lake and David Bicknell of Oakridge. On hearing of Tom Caron’s plight, he immediately offered five tonnes of fruit from his Bellvale vineyard. John Ellis says ‘You give your heart and soul to this business. It is a terrible thing to lose a vineyard or a crop.’
Tom Carson accepted the offer but felt that five tonnes was too much and too generous. David Bicknell suggested that the remaining three tonnes of the Bellvale donation could be made into a fundraising wine for the CFA and gifted Oakridge’s winemaking facilities in spite of his own parlous state. With no cellar door and a scorched crop the outlook is grim to say the least. Bicknell and Carson rallied their contacts. Within a few hours they were promised barrels from Mercurey and François Frères, packaging from C-Pak, screwcaps from Alcan, labels from Graphix and design work from Tucker Design. David Bicknell says ‘these are all people we have known and worked with for years. Everything has been donated. All the funds raised from selling this wine will go to the CFA.’
Bellvale’s north-facing 25-acre pinot noir vineyard lies on volcanic loams and surrounded by huge old oak trees and elms. Only 20 kilometres from the sea, the vineyard enjoys the moderating effect of onshore breezes. Ellis is hugely committed to growing outstanding pinot noir. On paper this is going to be a very special wine. Although the Yarra Valley is experiencing one of the most challenging vintages ever, Gippsland has escaped the dreadful fires and the extreme weather. John Ellis is quite excited about the forthcoming vintage. ‘Our pinot noir has a big canopy this year to help synchronise and achieve optimum flavour development, tannin ripeness and sugar accumulation. The increased leaf area has also shaded the fruit brilliantly well. This will be a very good vintage for us. Tom will have some great fruit to play with.’
The 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will be a reserve style wine made along classical Burgundian lines. Tom Carson is one of Australia’s great contemporary pinot noir winemakers. He is the man behind the reputation of Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir, Yabby Lake Pinot Noir and the micro-label Serrat Pinot Noir. David Bicknell, is also highly credentialed and one of the most intuitive winemakers of his generation. His Oakridge wines are widely acclaimed. Both winemakers achieved dux at the rigorous Len Evans Tutorial. This is a powerful winemaking team representing the very best of Australia’s talent pool.
The plan is to have wine industry friends to handpick the fruit. The parcels will be trucked up overnight. Typically the fruit will be de-stemmed and gently crushed into open fermenters for a 3–4 day cold soak. During vinification the fermenting must will be hand-plunged up to three times per day. After seven days post ferment maceration, the wine will be pressed off into the donated barrels (roughly 25% to 30% new oak) for around one year of aging before bottling in March and ready for dispatch in April.
2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will be a very classical Victorian Pinot Noir with plenty of ripe plum/berry/red cherry aromas and underlying spicy oak. The palate will be generous and textured with ripe plum/red cherry flavours, spicy/vanillin oak, slinky loose-knit tannins and plenty of flavour length. It is expected that this wine will develop in bottle and age gracefully for at least six or seven years. It is hoped that the wine will be enjoyed with family and friends.
The 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir is a fundraising tribute to all the volunteers and great people involved in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. The wine is named in honour of the bushfire unit that worked tirelessly and bravely in protecting the houses and vineyards of the Yarra Valley during the dreadful days of February 2009. The wine will be sensational!
Interested buyers can purchase the 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir through Langton’s website. Non-members can access the wine at www.langtons.com.au/promo (your promotional code to enter is: ‘Langton’). Alternatively, call Langton’s on 03 9428 4499 or email [email protected] for more information.
At $300 for a six pack of wine, it represents a really great opportunity to further help raise funds for Victoria’s devastated regions. Please support this worthwhile fundraising effort!