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Wine Girl: Part 2 - How to Curb Temptation

Wine Girl: Part 2 - How to Curb Temptation
The lure of highly alcoholic, sweet, luscious wines takes Lucy to work for James Godfrey, Australia's most celebrated fortified winemaker.
 
 
The lure of highly alcoholic, sweet, luscious wines is enough to tempt anyone, especially on a cold winter’s night. The justification to want to produce wines like these of course can be put down to important education and study of early winemaking techniques. That is exactly how I justified a vintage of fortified production to my lecturers when choosing my compulsory vintage placement at University…..Education…..and they fell for it!
 
In order to get close to these sweet, sticky, old wines I had to get a job somewhere reputable. I was not up for flagons of sweet sherry. I wanted to see, taste, smell and feel the good stuff. The old Ports, the grapes from century old vines that turn into Muscat, the vats of spirit worth thousands of dollars. And I waned to learn from the best. There was only one winery that could show me these wines and that was Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley. The Iconic Australian Institution of Fortified Winemaking. Lucky for me they needed a hand for vintage.
 
I remember been totally ecstatic to get this job for vintage for 2 reasons. The first being that I was to work under James Goddfrey, the most celebrated living Australian fortified winemaker, and that I could again move home for vintage and mum could do my piles of washing generated through the dirty work that is winemaking!
 
I spent half of my time in the laboratory analysing the ferments for sugar and alcohol levels. You see, this is the difficulty with fortified wine production….you need to add the spirit (the “fortified” bit) and stop the ferment at exactly the right level of sugar to create the style. For example, Muscat is often made sweeter than Port so therefore the ferment is stopped at an earlier stage, when there is still plenty of natural sugar left in the juice. This analysis and tasting was totally invigorating and educational but also highly annoying because the wines always needed fortifying just before we were finishing a shift, or in the middle of the night….always at the most inopportune times.

The other half of my time was spent working in the cellars and taking samples from barrels, like at St Hallett Wines. But these barrel cellars were in a totally different league due to the magical Solera System. A Solera is the ancient Portuguese stacking of barrels in a pyramid to age the wines homogenously. In practice, the wines for bottling are drawn from those at the bottom of the stack and then wine from further up the stack is drawn downwards to re-top the barrels. New young wines are filled to the top barrels and the system carries on. These Soleras can last forever. This was absolutely mind blowing for a twenty year old kid as some of these wines at the bottom of the stack were over 60 years old.
 
Not that I liked spending much time in the barrels cellars. The rumours of the ghosts of Seppeltsfield were of course told to me on my arrival much to the delight of the storytellers. I was resultantly, and as expected, not very comfortable wandering alone amongst the ancient barrels in case one of these ghosts wanted to say hello. Due to this, even in a barrel cellar full of ancient sweet, highly alcoholic loveliness will a twenty year old say no to a drink. I am sure this is just what the cellar hands, who are more so custodians of these special wines, had in mind when they filled my head with these ghostly tales. Irreplaceable wines like these call for tall stories. And it worked.
 

 
 
5 Comments | Add a comment

COMMENTS

Emma Clements
Melbourne
1
Hilarious... I remember you telling me about the ghosts at the weigh bridge Luce! Those naughty cellar hands...
Emma Clements
Melbourne
2
Hilarious... I remember you telling me about the ghosts at the weigh bridge Luce! Those naughty cellar hands...
Emma Clements
Melbourne
3
Hilarious... I remember you telling me about the ghosts at the weigh bridge Luce! Those naughty cellar hands...
Emma Clements
Melbourne
4
Hilarious... I remember you telling me about the ghosts at the weigh bridge Luce! Those naughty cellar hands...
Emma Clements
Melbourne
5
Hilarious... I remember you telling me about the ghosts at the weigh bridge Luce! Those naughty cellar hands...

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