Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bloodwood Wines and the 2006 Maurice (Orange)


In his 1980 thesis on site selection, Stephen Doyle identified Orange as the site in NSW with the greatest potential for cool climate winemaking. The thesis, which he did while at Roseworthy college, focused on the central tablelands. During my visit to the winery, Doyle showed me the actual document itself, which demonstrated a fantastic level of detail in researching many potential sites in NSW. Produced on a typewriter and with a myriad of hand drawn graphs and charts, it was from a different age, and yet remains highly relevant today. His ultimate conclusion was that the area to the immediate west and north-west of Orange offered the greatest potential in the Central Tablelands, and that Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay would likely be the star varieties.

With his thesis done, Doyle and wife Rhonda decided to make the dream a reality. They found the site they were looking for on sloping gravel soils. These ancient soils were what Doyle was after, in particular because he believed they would ensure that the vines didn’t grow with too much vigour. Having found the right site, the Doyle's planted the first vineyard in Orange in 1983 and Bloodwood was born. Looking at the photos from 1983 it looked a very tough and Spartan beginning. A genuine pioneering adventure, but one that has blossomed beautifully in the ensuing 30 years.

The first vines planted were red Bordeaux varieties. As part of his thesis, Doyle looked at historical patterns in terms of temperature and rainfall across numerous sites in the Central Tablelands. Not only did Orange look to be the best site in NSW from this perspective, but there were also striking parallels with Bordeaux in these patterns, with the one point of difference being a drier autumn for Orange. Gravel soils and a similar weather patterns to Bordeaux don’t of course inherently mean Orange will make great wine. The proof ultimately is in the bottle, but 30 years of refinement at Bloodwood has I believe proven Doyle's orginal thesis correct. There is some impressive Cabernet to be had here.

Upon arriving at Bloodwood, my wife and I got to help Doyle pump over his Cab Sav and Cab Franc that he had picked about a week earlier. He lets indigenous yeast do its work, and the pump over is
meant to try and keep that yeast healthy. Having had a taste of both varieties they looked excellent. Great colour, lovely ripeness, and none of the greenness I might have presupposed with this wet 2012 vintage. As it turns out the later ripening Cabernet grapes were not overly affected by the deluge in February, and the beautiful weather in late March/early April has seen some very nice fruit come in.

While there I also tasted the Merlot Noir (Doyle insists on Merlot being called by its proper name), Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2006 Maurice. All these bordeaux varieties were impressive wines, with a savoury bent, and the tannin and structure to age nicely. There was also a very impressive 2008 Shiraz, which if tasted blind I would have picked as being from the Northern Rhone. The highlight, however, was the Maurice.



2006 Bloodwood Maurice ($36)

This wine comes from a selection of the best barrels of red from the vintage, and hence the blend is always somewhat different. The name is a tribute to legendary Hunter winemaker, Maurice O’shea, who made a wonderful habit of blending the best barrels from not only his vineyards, but also from further afield. Doyle simply looks amongst his own 8 hectares.

The 2006 is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit of Cab Franc, and also a touch of Shiraz and Malbec I believe. It’s a savoury, medium-bodied Cabernet that drinks beautifully. It opens with an appealing nose of cedar, tobacco, dark berries, and a hint of eucalypt. To drink it presents a refined line and length of flavour that starts with lovely fruit before turning predominantly savoury. Acidity and fine tannins provide a nice sense of texture and grip. The sense of balance to this wine and the fact that it drank increasingly well over 3 days should see it age gracefully for the next decade. I love the fact that this is the current release of this wine. It is more than affordable as well, given the time and care that has gone into it. 4 Stars +

ABV: 14.0%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.bloodwood.biz/
 
 
Red

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