In 2011, I was inspired by the wines of Frank Cornelissen and Gravner to produce a wine that defied conventional winemaking. From a Chardonnay vineyard that was planted in 1984 I took a small parcel and fermented the grapes in a barrel that had the head knocked out. For 4 ½ weeks I hand plunged the whole berries, before pressing off into an old French oak barrel. The wine then spent 18 months in barrel before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. It took a further year and a half in bottle to fully pull itself together.
Rainfall. Winter rainfall for Piccadilly’s Botanical Gardens was above average which is great seeing our Chardonnay vines have been dry grown since 2010. We experienced long dry and warm growing conditions throughout, allowing for optimum ripening with good acidity.
Flowering. Flowering was normal.
Weather. The season was mild, with few days above 35C for the whole season. Flavour developed was slow which meant we could hand pick at the end of March.
The Swaby vineyard was a 35 acre property first owned by the Curtis family in 1846. Until 1979, when the Swaby family took ownership, the property was used for the production of fruits and summer vegetables. In 1979 the Botanical Gardens compulsorily acquired 29 acres of the Swaby property. The 1983 bushfires nearly burnt the house and the 3 sheds. Mr Swaby borrowed a generator from work so they could pump water up to the remaining shed and the house. In 1984 Swaby planted 1 acre of Bernard clone chardonnay and once it was established that the quality was too good to keep for themselves they planted the remaining 4 acres to the same clone and variety over a 4 year period. Most of the grapes went to Petaluma in the early days but now is divided up between Yalumba, Michael Hall, Brendon Keys and View Road wines. The chief viticulturist for Yalumba, Ashley Radcliff, says that the flavour and acid profile is similar to their Tasmania fruit.
In 2001 Swaby purchased a morning facing slope from their neighbours. Due to the high cost of land in Piccadilly, this vineyard will be the last to be planted by Swaby family. The vineyard was established with good quality water but has been dry grown since 2010. The micro climate in the Swaby vineyard is characterised by mild days and cool nights as the vineyard is directly under the protection of Mount Lofty. These conditions allows for a slow maturation for the grapes and allows for excellent flavour development and an abundance of acidity.
In the glass, the wine has an orange hue which is beguiling and evocative.
The first thing that pops out at you is an orange caramel flavour with fresh roasted mix nuts, pineapple skin and bucket loads of spice. The wine has a thickness to the palate which is more associated with red wine yet it still retains a freshness and vibrancy of high quality burgundies.