Here’s a new name to add to your list: Rouleur Wines.
Rouleur is the label of Matthew East; the ex-Wirra Wirra National Sales Manager turned vigneron. Matt is a Yarra boy originally, with his late father a long-time local grapegrower, and went to Yarra Valley Grammar with a swag of wine luminaries (like Mac Forbes).
I met Matt at the #WirraCycleTour a few years back, with his whippet frame ensuring that he made it up Willunga Hill well before I did (though he’s probably 10kg lighter than me – I’m built for the classics). Naturally, as a keen cyclist from childhood, a bike theme seemed only natural. Hence Rouleur Wines was born.
With this label Matt is trying a dual region focus, using fruit from both the Yarra Valley and his adopted home in McLaren Vale. This year he virtually did two vintages, picking and processing fruit using an old shipping container in the Yarra and then travelling over to McLaren Vale for round two. He then flew back from the Vale midway through to press fruit in the Yarra.
That sort of an effort requires a little help, and thankfully he has half the Yarra Valley on hand to help at home (including some over-qualified Italian cellarhands), plus Paul ‘Carps’ Carpenter and the Peter Dennis wines crew in McLaren Vale.
Moving forward Matt is looking to lock in permanent winery space in the Yarra, but continuing to make McLaren Vale wines by transporting fruit using specially designed tanks and refrigerated overnight truck back to Victoria.
Despite all that disruption, these wines are uncommonly high quality. It helps that the fruit sources are top shelf, and Matt has had some expert assistance, but that is discounting that he clearly has ‘the knack’.
Only problem? The make here is tiny, with 200 cases of each wine an absolute maximum volume (for the moment).
Rouleur Wines Willow Lake Chardonnay 2015
While Matt will eventually make wine from his late father’s 23-year-old vineyard at Coldstream, for now he is one of many winemakers sourcing fruit from the very highly regarded Willowlake vineyard. This Willow Lake Chardonnay is very much in the modern vein of Yarra Chard too, driven by acidity, yet without losing generosity. A dash of honey richness, plus some yeasty funk, backed by a mealy palate with strident grapefruit acidity. There is a solid match between fruit, winemaking-derived weight and acid here, but I feel the best drinking is at least 18-24 months away as it just finishes a fraction lean and tight. Quality, especially for the patient. Best drinking: 2018-2023. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 12.5% (12% on the label, the challenges of labelling), $32. Would I buy it? Well priced and high quality. I’d definitely buy this.
Rouleur Wines Blewitt Springs Grenache 2015
This is a star. Sourced from two vineyards in Blewitt Springs, with both parcels treated separately, including the with one portion spending 15 days on skins post ferment. No new oak, 15% whole bunches. What is instantly attractive here is just how it smells. There is this raspberry fruit deliciousness on the nose that is awfully attractive. I almost expected this to have some whole berries in there given the juiciness, but no, it’s just about the ripe fruit. Wow. That red fruit continues on the generous palate, with everything brought back in by some fine sandy tannins. This is the sort of wine to make people fall in love with Grenache. Generous, fruity, juicy, yet still tannic, structured, and, well, delicious. I think this is excellent wine, and it will get even better with another 6 months in bottle (though with just 120 dozen made it won’t last that long). Drink young and soak in the fruit. Best drinking: 2017-2024. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%, $32. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
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