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The Wine Show: episode one – Facing the Adelaide Frontier

The Wine Show: episode one – facing the Adelaide frontier

by Amelia Singer 11 April 2016

Amelia Singer talks us through the first episode of ITV's new series The Wine Show, sharing her first-hand experience of juicing grapes in Adelaide, Australia with Some Young Punks.

More from this series:

Amelia is a WSET Diploma-trained wine expert and the founder of events business Amelia's Wine. She has experience of working on vineyards all over the world, and appears on ITV's The Wine Show.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a winemaker for the day? Well that was mine and Joe Fattorini’s first official challenge for The Wine Show. A lot of ground is covered in the series, but I definitely racked up the airmiles by travelling the furthest to complete my vinous mission.

In the first episode Joe, in his red trousers, was sent to the historic Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, whilst I was sent to Some Young Punks, a slightly ‘edgier’ winery all the way in Clare Valley, Australia. Their wines are icons within their own right and display the authentic ethos of their respective producers. However, that is where the similarity ends.

Driving through the hilly, horse-filled pastures of Clare Valley immediately brought back childhood memories of Little House on the Prairie. My changing room, a petrol station’s lavatory, was equally as rustic. It felt only appropriate to emerge from them dressed in Daisy Duke shorts and a checked lumberjack shirt. I was ready to face anything!

My assigned testing ground turned out to be a corrugated iron shed overseen by a three man team and an especially excitable terrier. I am greeted by Col, the tattooed, PhD toting, ‘incorrigible’ winemaker at Some Young Punks. I would expect nothing less from this quirky boutique winery where Col and the team create wines with personalities to match their vibrant comic book labels. Taking in my red headband I could see a Puck-like grin appear on Col’s face and I suddenly felt like Dorothy. Home and conventional winemaking seemed sepia-like – I was experiencing the Adelaide frontier.

Set to work

 
 

Immediately I was put to work on the ‘punch down’ of the red grapes. There are a number of ways to perform this crucial part of winemaking. Joe in Bordeaux merely had to operate a pump with a flick of his pinky. I, on the other hand, had a good work out, physically punching fermented grape skins to draw out their flavour and colour. Although it was tiring, it became rather therapeutic. I was quite proud of my vigorous punches and it’s so satisfying watching the juices burst out of the grapes. Col mentioned that he usually worked in a more grid-like fashion but hey, surely random punch downs could only give this eclectic brand more flair?

Col didn’t seem to think so, and I was soon demoted to cleaning. No one realises, but this actually constitutes about ninety percent of winemaking. No winery can afford to let any bit of bacteria or dirt into their vats, barrels or equipment – it is a Herculean but vital task. I started off by rinsing the fermentation area and then flushing out the barrels. One particularly memorable part was trying to clean the grape crusher and then subsequently getting stuck inside!

I couldn’t have done such a bad job; Col even gave me a helping hand out of the grape crusher. As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t help but admire the steadfast teamwork and hands-on approach in this humble, corrugated iron unit. In one room you have the sorting table for the fruit, plastic vats with fermenting grapes and custodial casks ageing future Young Punks, while vibrant comic book posters festooned on the walls looked down on the anarchic yet simultaneously organised environment. It really was impressive to witness – I had genuinely never been so intrigued to taste the fruit of any such labour.

 
Amelia and Joe
Amelia is The Wine Show's expert alongside Joe Fattorini
Vineyard
Younger, 'edgier' winemakers are flourishing alongside Australia's established vineyards

Local flavour

 
 
As Col hands me a glass of one of his wines, ‘Passion has Red Lips’, I can’t help thinking that I couldn’t be enjoying his wine in a more perfect setting. It’s a spicy, sensual wine that tastes as much fun as the provocative wine label. It could also compete with the funkiness of the punk rocking pool players.

Amelia Singer

That moment finally came. The Daisy Duke shorts were exchanged for a black playsuit and I was ready to go out and experience Adelaide’s East End (think pre-gentrification Shoreditch). Col was taking me out to one of his favourite dive bars which not only served his wine by the glass but was also abuzz with a colourful crowd of punters.

Someone I know once referred to Adelaide as Australia’s ‘ugly sister’, with Sydney and Melbourne being the glamorous, older siblings. I can’t help but think of the ugly duckling analogy, as clichéd as it may seem. It may not have the glamour of Sydney or the cosmopolitan hue of Melbourne, but it had soul. While I was there I experienced wine street festivals, exciting cuisine including tribal African dishes, hip wine bars without pretension and an East End filled with dive bars. But no one in tight trousers donning a beard was in sight.

As Col handed me a glass of one of his wines, ‘Passion has Red Lips’, I couldn’t help thinking that this was the perfect setting to enjoy his wine. It’s a spicy, sensual drink that tastes as much fun as the provocative wine label. It could also compete with the funkiness of the punk rock pool players.

Australia is going through a really exciting period, with more and more boutique wine producers making their mark in cutting-edge wine regions. Col McBryde, with his down to earth winery in Clare Valley, is definitely one of them. As Claret echoes the tradition and heritage of Bordeaux, Col’s funky and exciting wines are just as memorable as their creator.

The Wine Show

For more information on all the wines featured in the show, as well as the stories that surround them, check out The Wine Show website: www.thewineshow.com. The show is broadcast on Sundays at 6.55pm on ITV4 and then repeated on Saturdays at 4.25pm on ITV.

 
 

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