Label to watch: Ministry of Clouds
There are some wine producers who just ‘get it’. Producers who, quite simply, make great wines that have great commerical appeal.Julian Forwood and Bernice Ong clearly get it.
Given their backgrounds, I’m not surprised that this McLaren Vale ‘power couple’ have it nailed. Julian was Sales Manager at the ever-clever Wirra Wirra for the best part of 9 years, and Bernice was the long time Sales and Manager at Woodstock (with a further decade before that selling wine for all manner of companies).
When they dropped into the Graham tasting facility a few weeks back, however, I didn’t know much at all about them (I didn’t do my homework, clearly).
What convinced me was not only the quality of their Ministry of Clouds wines, but the honesty of what they were presenting. For instance, they pulled one of the Shiraz as it didn’t look right. Next came this quote from Julian, which he was almost apologetic about: ‘we find the wines we love and then find where the fruit comes from. If we can’t find the fruit we go and ask the neighbours’.
You can see such honesty in the styles too – they’re aspirational wines, no doubt about it, yet the intensity and depth suggests minimal compromises.
Speaking of styles, like many virtual wineries Ministry of Clouds sells wine from multiple different regions. The focus is McLaren Vale, but as you can see below they source grapes from some well-known growers all over the countryside. Much of the wine is made at Tim Geddes winery in McLaren Vale (where Julian and Bernice swap labour for fermenter space) but some wine is processed elsewhere (such as the Chardonnay which is crushed and fermented at Bay of Fires).
The pair talk of a Ministry of Clouds cellar door and a vineyard purchase on the horizon, but there’s no hurry given the initial quality from what is a very young label.
Much promise here…
Ministry of Clouds Riesling 2014 (Clare Valley, SA) 12.3%
Looks like plenty of whole berries in here. Has a real lift not often seen in Mataro. Meaty core. I love the prettiness even though this isn’t classically varietal – a bit too opulent for that. Attractive wine though. 17.7/20, 92/100
Deep purple black colour. Has that classic prosciutto edge of Blewitt Springs over a palate of black fruit and with a darker fruit finish. Real grip and persistence, there’s a heroic firmness through the finish without oak. Like this. It feels withered and dark and wise. Delicious stuff. 18.5/20, 94/100