It’s time to announce our next ‘Wine of the Month!’ This February we’re celebrating the new, 2017 vintage of The Survivor.
This old vine blend of 25% Grenache and 75% Shiraz comes to us from the Barossa Valley of South Australia. The vines that produce this wine were planted in 1923, making them nearly 100 years old. These vines’ maturity shows in the finished wine.
Vines notice a decline in their yield around 40 years of age. Essentially, the plant is no longer able to grow as many grapes as it used to. However, since the vine is growing less grapes, it has more energy to spend ripening that smaller number. The result is that old vines typically produce much riper grapes at the time of harvest, leading to bigger, bolder flavors. Old vine wines also tend to be fruit forward on the palate, since riper grapes show their fruit characteristics more. They also produce higher sugar content in the grapes, leading to a higher alcohol level in the finished wine. So, overall, old vines mean big wines!
The Survivor is no exception, with its dark color and nicely focused black cherry, strawberry, and currant flavors. Hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and mocha give the wine additional complexity. Aged in 30% new French oak and 70% mature French oak barrels, the palate is rich and elegant, with a velvety mouth feel and a long, spicy finish. For an old vine wine, it shows amazing balance, which is no small feat when dealing with such big components.
And why did we choose to call this wine ‘The Survivor’? It’s a nod to the strong history of Australian winemaking. The Barossa Valley has some of the world’s longest, continuously operating wineries. To mark this unique characteristic, Barossa Valley grape growers got together in 2009 and created the Barossa Old Vine Charter, which listed the area’s vineyards by age, in order to help promote and preserve these historic vineyards.
To be considered a “Survivor,” your vines have to be at least 70 years old, a criteria The Survivor easily met. It is said these vines have “weathered the worst of many storms, both man-made and naturally occurring, including the infamous 1980s Vine Pull Scheme. A Barossa Survivor vine has reached a significant milestone and pays homage to the resolute commitment of those growers and winemakers who value the quality and structure of old vine wines.” (Barossa Old Vine Charter)
The Vine Pull Scheme was a decision made by the Australian government in 1980 to pay grape growers to pull up their vines if the varietals they were growing were deemed undesirable by the global wine market. For example, many Grenache and Mourvedre vines were uprooted and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon and chardonnay, since they were more popular with consumers. It was an attempt to buoy a faltering Australian wine industry, but has had the unfortunate affect of losing many acres of older and unique vines in Australia. Hence the need to celebrate those that survive to this day.
The Survivor will be available for tasting all month, and we hope you’ll stop by to give it a try!