|Yes the bottle is half empty. We drank the
other half. Was great with my rib eye. Yum.
What’s The Story? Real handmade wines to impress anyone
(A version of this article was in the March edition of Latté Life magazine. As usual, an important element to note is that this is written for a much different audience than this site. To put it another way the tone and delivery of the message is different but the message itself remains the same. Hope you enjoy).
They say that the best way to make a small fortune in the wine industry is to start with a large one…
That may be a cynical view of such a romantic craft, but the sad fact remains that unless you have a pile of unallocated cash floating around – or you have a family wine business to step into – owning a vineyard and winery remains just a pipe dream.
Yet for a new generation of winemakers, a new era of producers, the lack of a vineyard or winery is no longer the massive impediment it used to be.
Or at least it wasn’t for Rory Lane….
For Rory (and his partner Anita), the decision was all about simple practicalities. They wanted to pursue their dreams of making wine – their own wine that is – for a living, yet obviously they didn’t own the vineyards or the winery to do so (and they still had full time jobs in Melbourne for that matter. Or at least they did at the time).
What they did instead was quite basic really – they brought the wine production to them. This meant renting a factory close to home in southern Melbourne, purchasing the required winemaking equipment and then – the most important part – sourcing the best grapes they could find. That quest ultimately brought them to Western Victoria, to the granite strewn hills of the Grampians actually, where they picked up some wonderful full bodied Shiraz grapes from several, 50 year old plus vineyards, that kick-started their wine brand.
Fittingly, that brand is called ‘Story Wines’, a name that reflects the fact that each grape and each wine has a story. For Rory and Anita that story starts with grapes from ‘somewhere’, sourced from real vineyards that are tended by real people (as opposed to machines) and which produce fruit of intense flavour and genuine character.
These grapes are then crafted into wines of character and substance using a classic minimal intervention model – think no acid adjustments, all wild yeast ferments, open ferments and a general ‘hands-off winemaking’ approach.
The secret to the success of these wines too is about different ‘stories’ – about keeping each vineyard plot separate and treating them differently. Of preserving individuality and attempting to approach winemaking intuitively a more intuitively. Of building wines largely on the basis of texture and balance and of ‘grapes that are so good that they don’t need to be worked hard to get structure – they have it naturally’ as Rory puts it.
A perfect example of the fruits of said approach is illustrated in the wonderfully generous, 2010 The Story ‘Rice’s Vineyard’ Grampians Shiraz ($45), a wine which has lowish alcohol (13.2%) yet still carries an uncommon plushness to it that makes it seriously hard to put down.
It’s a wine that is immediately quite open and friendly – built in a ‘throw another steak on the barbie’ style – yet finishing with fine and rather sophisticated tannins and a long finish. It is a well priced, single vineyard Shiraz crafted in a fashion that you just cannot deny the attraction of, without ever doubting how serious this is. A real wine, made by real people and all with a great story to match – wine doesn’t get much better than that…
(Postscript: Rory brought all his 2010 reds around to taste alongside the Rice’s Vineyard but it was Rice’s that most seduced me. It was the most luscious, the most Grampians-esque and the most seductive, all without actually being sweet or anything but fine and composed. That’s quite a feat actually and a combination that ensured that the half empty bottle Rory left behind followed me out to dinner where it was very well received.
Also of note amongst the bracket of vinos that Mr Lane kindly opened was the peppery, wild and plain intriguing Henty Shiraz, a whole bunch influenced Shiraz that has – as Rory called it – ‘ a little x-factor’. It’s a divisively spicy wine perhaps but unquestionably a beguiling sort of Shiraz. Well worth a look (particularly for anyone who likes more esoteric styles).