One of the most alluring traits of rosé is its ability to present in so many different ways in the glass. From barely-there salmon hues to deep pinks, this style spans the spectrum. Its flavour profile is equally as malleable, meaning these wines can be tailored to suit the preferences of their makers. These four local producers are part of a revolution, shifting the Australian rosé paradigm to crisp, bright, refreshing wines. Ahead, they tell us where got their inspiration from and how they approach making this style.
Turkey Flat is not only home to some of the best wines in South Australia’s Barossa, but also a vital part of the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Schulz family acquired the Turkey Flat vineyard in 1870 when Gottlieb Ernst Schulz, a successful butcher, purchased the land to establish a thriving retail business among the vines. The winery was eventually founded in 1990, with the cellar door now housed in Gottlieb’s original and historic bluestone butcher shop. The intense and concentrated fruit from these ancient vines has made Turkey Flat wines sought after the world over.
Mike Fitzpatrick acquired a taste for fine wine while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in the ’70s. He established the Squitchy Lane brand in 2004, on a site with plantings going back to 1982. At Squitchy Lane, great winemaking begins with the vines. With a strong philosophy of “letting the grapes do the talking”, the winery is committed to reducing additives in the winemaking process. The Yarra Valley climate and sandy clay-loam soils make for the production of elegant, medium-bodied, cool-climate styles.
Medhurst is the realisation of a long-held dream and the shared vision of Ross and Robyn Wilson. After years of searching for the perfect site, the Medhurst vineyard was planted in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, with the focus on low-yield, small-batch production. The stunning cellar door blends seamlessly into the surrounds, and its design has been recognised at the Victorian Architecture Awards.
Pictured: winemaker Mark Bulman
Q: How do you make your rosé?
A: Our winemaking at Turkey Flat aims to present rosé in its purest form. We focus on protecting aromatics and freshness to make sure our wine delivers maximum enjoyment, no matter the occasion. Our rosé is made from grenache, which is perfectly suited to our warm climate, as it’s able to withstand the heat and aridity of the Barossa while delivering a wine that is beautifully fruit-forward, crisp and delicious.
Q: Has your winemaking process changed or evolved in any way?
A: The Turkey Flat Rosé was one of the first Australian-made rosés to be available nationwide. Over the last 25 years, our style has gradually become lighter, drier and more aromatic. This approach has helped the wine speak more purely of variety and region and become much more food-friendly. Grenache rosé is suited to a range of occasions and cuisines – whether at the beach, a barbecue, or at home with your favourite Asian takeaway. It is always best consumed chilled on a warm day.
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Pictured: viticulturist Stephen Sadlier
Q: What is unique about your product?
A: Our rosé is made using 52 per cent cabernet franc and 48 per cent merlot, which is unusual for a rosé not only from the Yarra Valley but also Australia. We use these varieties as the base for our rosé as they give it a dry, savoury crispness, with the leafiness from the varieties showing through nicely. We also wanted to make a Bordeaux-style rosé, rather than a typical Australian style.
Q: Can you tell us about the winemaking process?
A: Our grapes are hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed, with removal from skins after four hours. Fermentation is then started in old barrels and finished in tank, before being left on fine lees for a few months prior to bottling. The inspiration for our rosé came after our winemaker, Robert Paul, went to a seminar with some French producers and decided to make a dry, savoury style. The result is a bone-dry rosé with a lifted bouquet from the cabernet franc and juicy flavour from the merlot.
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Pictured: winemaker Simon Steele
The De Bortoli winemaking philosophy is hands-on in the vineyard and hands-off in the winery. Family owned and run since 1928, today, it is one of the largest and most successful labels in the Yarra Valley. A five-star Halliday-rated winery, De Bortoli has also received acclaimed for its ongoing dedication to sustainability and biological farming practices.
Q: How would you describe rosé?
A: It’s a style with many faces, from very pale in appearance to quite crimson, sweet to dry, simple to serious. We see our rosé wines as being full-flavoured and silky with a fine chalkiness from our ancient soils. And, of course, very pale – brilliant with only a slight blush. At any time, in any place and with anyone – this is the perfect drink for our Australian lifestyle.
Q: How do you approach the making of this style?
A: We have dedicated single sites to the production of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz grapes specifically for rosé and have been making this style of single-vineyard wine since 2004. We whole-bunch press gently with our glass at the juice tray and cut the press before the colour and phenolic go too far, producing a fine and delicate rosé. We enjoy making this style because we love drinking it!
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Pictured: Third Generation and Yarra Valley Estate Manager, Leanne De Bortoli
Q.Where did you get the inspiration for your rosé?
A. My husband Steve and I have always loved the Provencal rosés. After a holiday in the south of France more than 10 years ago, we were so in love with their savoury, pale, dry rosés that we decided we would make some when we returned home. Our decision was met with some healthy scepticism, as at the time, most of the rosés made in Australia were darker pink and generally sweeter. We forged ahead and along the way developed a successful campaign with other like-minded wineries called the “Rosé Revolution”.
Q: What’s distinctive about the rosé you make?
A: Our rosé is not an afterthought – we grow the fruit purposely to make it. The grapes are picked and either crushed or whole-bunch pressed. The skins are then left to macerate for a short time before being discarded, but not before imparting a delightful pale-pink tinge to the juice. The juice is settled overnight then racked to vats and oak casks and allowed to ferment naturally. The wine is stirred post-ferment and undergoes malolactic fermentation to give creaminess and complexity.
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*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.