Coonawarra is set to wrap up the 2018 Vintage very soon and Brand’s Laira chief winemaker Peter Weinberg is confident that this season will produce some excellent wines that represent the very best of Coonawarra.
Although it wasn’t the best start to the season with a black frost event last November, 2018 is shaping up to be a magnificent vintage for the region.
The warmer days and cool nights over recent weeks has helped produce exceptional looking grapes with intense colours, flavours and aromas. Stand-out varietals include Cabernet and Merlot as well as a pretty solid Chardonnay.
Once harvest is done and dusted, our team will turn their attention to the winemaking process. We are all looking forward to tasting our finished wines and reminiscing on all the hard work and long hours that went in to each and every drop!
Every year, international winemakers and cellar hands descend on Coonawarra to gain valuable experience in the vineyards and wineries. Meet Leonore Salancon from Bordeaux, France. Leonore joins the Brand’s Laira team as assistant winemaker for the 2018 Coonawarra Vintage.
Q. What initially attracted you to Coonawarra?
I’ve always wanted to work in Coonawarra as the region is internationally renowned for producing amazing cabernet - my favourite grape to work with!
Q. Where else have you worked in the wine industry?
I have worked in numerous wine regions in the past including Bordeaux in France, Marlborough in New Zealand and the Napa Valley in California. In 2016 I also worked for a family winery in the Ferguson Valley in Western Australia.
Q. What do you love about working at Brand’s Laira?
I really enjoy Brand’s Laira’s approach of combining traditional winemaking techniques with modern methods. It can be challenging at times to adapt your winemaking style between the two; however it’s been a fantastic experience learning new skills from the team. My favourite part of my role is being able to follow the ferment and being aware of what’s happening in the tank – the aromas and the taste. For me, that’s the most exciting part of winemaking!
Q. What’s your favourite Brand’s Laira wine and why?
Definitely Stentiford’s. I love this wine’s choc-berry taste and how incredibly smooth the tannins are. It’s well balanced and delivers good harmony between nose and mouth.
Q. Where to after you finish Vintage 2018 in Coonawarra?
Hmmm…good question! I’m not really sure. I’m not ready to go home yet and I’m hoping to find a permanent winemaking position in Australia.
Although Coonawarra’s annual end-of-vintage festival After Dark had to contend with some dark and stormy skies, the event was still a huge success with hundreds of locals and region visitors joining in the festivities filled with food, wine, live music and fun activities.
In addition to Brand’s Laira, three other local wineries participated in Coonawarra After Dark - Digiorgio Family Wines, Zema Estate and Raidis Estate – all hosting unique events.
The After Dark weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon at Digiorgio Family Wines with their traditional vintage stomp where teams rolled up their sleeves and got amongst the grapes. After they were all stomped out, locals and visitors descended on Zema Estate, where Francesca Zema served up her famous family style pizzas for everyone to enjoy.
Later that evening, more than 300 revellers headed to Brand's Laira to relax to reggae beats by popular local musician Rhys Crimmin and tuck into delicious fish and chips, homemade brownies and a glass or two of Brand’s Laira wines. Not perturbed by the weather in the slightest, the crowd danced the night away.
To round off Coonawarra After Dark, on Saturday evening Chris Raidis showcased his famous charcoal grill at Raidis Estate, while live band Kingsley George kept the crowd entertained and on their toes.
Coming up next month is the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival (17-20 May). It’s one of regional Australia’s leading arts festivals and features exhibitions, workshops, tours and other events – many of which are hosted by Coonawarra’s cellar door wineries, including Brand’s Laira. For more details, visit www.artfestival.com.au.
The perfect age means everything in winemaking.