Drink Victoria masterclass on wine presented by Sebastian Crowther

The scene was set. I walked into the workshop at the W Hotel and the tables were set in rows with a flight of empty glasses laid out with some grissini sticks on the side. Knowing the glasses would soon be filled with some delicious wines I settled in for the coming hour and was surprised what an abundance of knowledge was shared. If you ever get to attend a masterclass with Sebastian it will be the best hour learning about wine. He worked at a good pace listening to questions and welcomed the interactive way this workshop was shaping.

The wines he selected for us to taste were all gorgeous, showing the diversity that Victoria has with lots of regions and different styles of wines. Sebastian shared interesting tales of wine production with various wineries coming to light and the difference in climate the regions present with the diverse output that the winemakers produce.

We started our journey with a 2016 Crittenden Estate that has been in the barrel for six years. It doesn’t oxidise. We learnt about aldehyde – nutrients in the wine. In France this wine is typically paired with a Comte.

Wine Regions of Victoria

Dilworth & Allain Coup de Foudre Pincha 2021 Pinot Noir. This is a Pet nat style methode ancestrale (traditional method of making sparkling wine and champagne). This process (Pet nat) we learned is a cheaper process and is created in Macedon. The fermentation process starts in a tank. If there is too much sugar it can explode or be gushy.

Next up Oakridge, We tried a 2015 Blanc de blanc a 100% Chardonnay, sparkling from the Yarra Valley. Oakridge put this wine for 20 months on yeast lees. The process was interesting to note: Wine fermented to dry, creating sugary wine, then the yeast, beer cap on top. The yeast then dies and stays on the lees (dead wine), then the wine will be disgorged (which means in the French methode traditionnelle) of sparkling wine production that involves removing a frozen pellet of dead yeast cells (lees) from the neck of the wine bottle after secondary fermentation. Basically, the cap is flicked, and the wine turned upside down. I find this winery produces some consistently good wines and if you get the chance the winery is a great place to visit with a beautiful restaurant.

Sebastian Crowther pouring Oakridge wine at Drink Victoria wine masterclass.

Moving up to the Macedon Ranges, we then tasted a Granite Hills Riesling 2021. Whilst this was young it was delicious, the cool climate in the ranges coupled with the Gamay in the ground creates a delicious wine and one I know and love. Granite Hills Rieslings have been awarded 38 trophies including the Melbourne Wine Awards “RASV Trophy for Wines of Provenance” in 2014 and again in 2017. Granite Hills has a good cellar door, and it is also worth a visit.

Our fifth wine was a Brunnen by Schmolzer & Brown, a partnership by Tessa Brown winemaker and viticulturist and Jeremy Schmolzer. This is a Beechworth Chardonnay. The wine has a high fruit concentration and is harvested early focusing on the acidity. The wine maker is Tessa Brown.

Brunnen Chardonnay 2016 Beechworth

Crowther Collective Cooper was presented by the winemaker himself Sebastian Crowther. We learned that Josh Cooper helped and his parents and all the Coopers at Cobaw Ridge. The fruit is from a vineyard in Henty, near Crawford River.  We tried a Pinot Meunier 2021 which would be good to enjoy with some gruyere. This was rich and aromatic with pomegranite and blood orange notes. (Certainly, two thumbs up from me).

The seventh wine was The Story Wines Super G 2021 from the Grampians created by winemaker Rory. The blend is 42% Grenache, 40%Syrah and 18%Mourvedre. Made with no new oak and 10% whole bunch aromatics. It has equal parts of mulberry and pepper and is a medium red with spicy and woody notes. It is elegant, I love the spice, with the Grenache is it a warm climate Pinot Noir. The Story Wines has been recognised as a five-star producer by James Halliday’s Wine Companion.

The Story Wines 2021 Grampians Super G

Place of Changing Winds 2019 by Rob Walters who owns Bibendum Wine Co. This is a Heathcote Syrah, Shiraz Cab. from Heathcote high country. Organically planted in collaboration with Rhone legend Alain Graillot. Creating a cool with a little attitude wine. 2019 was the second bottling held some in cask and we tasted some that came later. Savoury in the wine and delicious, presented in the Syrah style, wines that are medium to full body.

Place of Changing Winds 2019 Rob Walters

The ninth wine was Pressings Cabernet 2021 by Joshua Cooper from Balgownie Vineyard. This is the softer side of the pressings with tannin comes over the fruit to make a serious wine. A complex blend of sweet cassis, cedar, violet and graphite. Great for decanting this one and a delight to drink.

Pressings Cabernet 2021

Presented tenth was the Fighting Gully Road 2019 dessert wine from Beechworth with Petit Manseng and Moelleux. In Victoria Sebastian feels that the dessert wines are very authentic. Mould or rot doesn’t become chill vats and from the varietals of Petit Manseng, harvested late and gives some unique characteristics of mango, lychee and pineapple on the nose.

Fighting Gully Road 2019 Beechworth

Lucky eleven was the Crawford River Nektar Henty 2017, botrytis affected naturally made by Sebastian’s wife’s family vineyard. This is a white, tropical and balanced wine and pure in taste.

Classic Rutherglen Muscat 2015 and Crawford River Nectar 2017

Lastly, the twelfth wine showcased was the Classic Rutherglen Muscat 2015. This fortified wine was simply delicious. 150 years of winemaking Campbells Wines have mastered how to make a delicious sticky. This intense wine has depth, showing some dry aged oak and rich fresh raisins, balanced and elegant.

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