Adrian Rodda has been winemaking since 1998, almost entirely working with David Bicknell at Oakridge. He was involved in the development of the superb Oakridge 864 Chardonnay. At the start of 2010 he and wife Christie, a doctor, decided to move to Beechworth, and it was no coincidence that he was a long-term friend of viticulturist Mark Walpole. Yet further coincidences came with the Smith Vineyard and winery being available for lease; he now shares it with Mark, who makes his Beechworth wines there. Even more propitious was the availability of Smith Vineyard chardonnay, planted in 1974. The quality of the portfolio has been consistently excellent.
Winner: 2015 Young Gun of Wines
The Chardonnay Project – Vintage 2016
The 2016 vintage was the fifth year of what we fondly refer to as “The Chardonnay Project”.
When Adrian moved to Beechworth in 2010, the primary focus was to make one Chardonnay from the oldest vines in the region; The Smiths Vineyard. However, his intention was always to make multiple single vineyard Chardonnays from different geographical regions. Given Adrian’s history and the suitability of the region for the variety, the region of origin for his second Chardonnay was obvious: the Yarra Valley.
Adrian strongly believes the old adage that the best vineyards are inherently suited to particular varieties and result in the great wines of the world.
Therefore, his aim was to find another vineyard, like Smiths in Beechworth, with mature vines, in a cool site and real pedigree. In the upper reaches of the Yarra Valley in Gladysdale, he found just that.
Willow Lake Vineyard, Yarra Valley
A section of Willow Lake Vineyard’s Parkinsons Road Block was planted in 1979 in brown, gradational soils over clay at an elevation of 270 metres above sea level. Unlike the majority of the Willow Lake Vineyard, the Parkinsons Road block has a southerly aspect, with a consistent gradient across the entire block.
The Smiths Vineyard was planted in 1978 at an elevation of 550 metres above sea level at the cross-over between the two soil types that define the region; the shaley red Ordivician soil and the granitic soil. The vineyard has a gentle easterly aspect with the back half of the block more south-facing.
Adrian wanted each wine to be an expression of the site and the region whilst carrying the same winemaking thumbprint. Therefore, he went to great lengths to ensure both wines were vinified in the same manner.
Fruit for both wines were pressed to oak without clarification or racking for non-temperature controlled, natural fermentation. The cooperages, oak format (puncheons) and barrel age were exactly the same for both wines. Upon completion of fermentation, the wines were immediately sulphured to preserve freshness and acidity and rested on it lees for 10 months. The wines were finished to bottle with minimal fining.
2015 A.Rodda Tempranillo “Aquila Audax Vineyard”, Beechworth
Sitting on the edge of an escarpment, the vineyard is planted at 580 metres above sea level in deep, shaley, mudstone soils. Vineyard Owner/Operator Mark Walpole (ex-Brown Brothers Viticulturist) employs a fastidious viticultural approach that combines arched-cane pruning with judicious leaf plucking and fruit thinning. This, in conjunction with the inherent suitability of the site to the variety, ensures the desired fruit flavor profile and tannin maturation is achieved in the vineyard.
After hand harvesting, the majority of fruit was de-stemmed without crushing and cold soaked for three days. A small parcel of 100 percent whole bunches was fermented separately making up approximately 15 percent of the final blend. During fermentation, the timing and combination of pump-overs, rack and returns, pigeage and plunging was to preserve aromatics and perfume yet extract adequate tannins for structure and length. Post-fermentation, the wine was held on skins for a further 14 days before being pressed to French oak hogsheads (33% new) for a 16 month elevage. The wine received a light egg white fining prior to bottling.
2015 A.Rodda “Cuvée de Chez”, Beechworth
“Cuvée de Chez” loosely translates as Cellar Blend and is Adrian’s interpretation of a traditional Bordeaux blend or ‘Claret’.
Adrian believes that when it comes to Bordeaux varieties, the sum is greater than its parts. Cabernet Sauvignon provides the tannin, length and structural backbone, Merlot contributes ‘the fuzzy ball of fruit’ in the mid-palate, Petit Verdot adds perfume and acid line and Malbec gives dark fruits and overall roundness to the finish. With this in mind, each variety was made to ensure its varietal strengths came to the fore.
Cabernet Sauvignon was crushed and de-stemmed whereas the other three varieties incorporated more whole berries. During fermentation, the timing and combination of pump-overs, “rack and returns”, pigeage and plunging was to preserve aromatics and perfume yet extract adequate tannins for structure and length, depending on the variety. Post-fermentation, the Cabernet Sauvignon was held on skins for a further 12 days than the other varieties. All wines were pressed to French oak barriques (25% new) for a16 month elevage.
The 2015 Cuvée de Chez blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (24%), Petit Verdot (10%) and Malbec (8%). The wine received a light egg white fining prior to bottling.