Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wine tambourine man

Some winemakers can only make wine.
Some of them can also tell stories and involve you in their passion and life. Charles Melton is one of the latter.
He is an handsome man with a cool and friendly expression, gaucho boots and a charming spontaneous smile. He truly believes in the historic value of Australian vines and wines and he is more than proud when he loudly talks about the experience of Australian producers.

Charlie is one of the most prestigious and well known producers in the Barossa Valley where he started his own activity in the '80s after long experiences in other parts of Australia and Europe. His small winery in Tanunda has the atmosphere of a family run farm. And this is exactly what it is.
Charlie and his wife Virginia, have 50 acres of vineyards and buy more grapes from neighbours growers. The same growers that he has supported when the trend in Barossa was to pull out the old vines of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre ("the great vine-pull scheme" promoted by the Australian Government). He convinced them to keep those varieties for the importance of the viticultural tradition of this area. (Not so many know that some of these vineyards are among the oldest in the world -140/160 years old).
 At the time he was able to recognise the value and the potential of these varieties and the level of quality, concentrated flavours and deep complexity that only old vineyards can give especially when the people who's working in them have a long family tradition of wine making and know how to deal with the vines.

This is one of the reason why he is so proud of his work and of the Barossa Valley. And this is why he tries to promote the introduction of the a Barossa Valley qualification, form a legal point of view but even more because he truly believes in the sense of place that these wines recall.


That character of the Barossa Valley that you will find drinking for example the Nine Popes.
And this is a funny story. The name of this wine was chosen to celebrate the Chateauneuf du Pape after his experience in the Rhone Valley. Unfortunately the time spent in France was not enough to improve his French skills and he translated the "neuf" in nine instead that new!!
But the loss in translation is the only thing that this wine is lacking, being a great example of a juicy blend of  Grenache, Mouverdre and Shiraz that will wrap you up with its dark, deep fruit and plush spices.

Another story? He is still producing a Rose of Virginia because he is still married to the woman that gives the name to the wine. Not only for this reason to be honest but also because this is recognised as one of the best Rose of Australia, with its impressive pink the good crispness and delicate raspberry's aromas.

And to finish with a classic style Barossa Shiraz the Grains of Paradise. No anecdotes on this, as far as I know, but a full, luscious and intense wine. Mouth filling and rich. Deep aromas of red fruits, spices and violet. A wine that will surprisingly evolve in the cellar and that expresses at its best Charlie's interpretation of an Aussie classic.

No more comments or descriptions from me.
After tasting his wines, if you have the chance go and visit his cellar and let him tell you his stories!!