Monday, May 14, 2018


Lethbridge Wines

Australia is dry.

But it has amazing surf :

And even more amazing wine!
I first tried the Lethbridge Pinot Noir 2014 at the Langham hotel in downtown Melbourne. They have a very nice selection of wines with a gas system which allows them to serve you by the glass unique expensive wines. I was so pleased that I decided to go visit the winery.

At the winery, I was welcomed by the wine marker's themselves Maree and Ray. Both have PhDs, one in biology and one in chemistry. And you can tell from the wines.
It turns out that the wines are among the best in Australia. They are served at the most prestigious restaurants and hotels. And they are far from cheap.

I had an idea that Australian wines, because of the lack of regulation, are mostly made in stainless steel vats with wooden chips, at industrial scale. This is quite the opposite: Ray gave me a tour of the back room and we sampled wines from the barrels and even the fermentation barrels (yes, he ferments them in oak vats or barrels depending on the size of the harvest).

Also, I was very impressed with the variety of grapes they make wine from: I would say at least about 20 different grapes. And the styles go from Ripasso to Amphora Aged! I don't think I have ever seen such a diversity in grapes, and winemaking techniques. I would typically be afraid that a winemaker can't possibly excel at such a diversity of grapes and techniques but everything I tried made me think that they, in fact, do excel at all of them. Not to mention that they nearly always have about half a dozen young winemakers or interns from Europe and other parts of the world visiting to learn their art.

Anyway, I sampled all their production. And I strongly recommend trying the aged Chardonnays. They are unbelievable. I really loved, as expected, the Pinot Noirs. The single vineyard pack made from 4 different soils were extremely interesting but it is the blend of the 4 that I like the most.
I discovered the Aglianico. Very impressive as well.
And last but not least their Syrah was also very unique, a little salty.

I left with a case, via Indonesia, on the way home. And guess what? In the Bali airport, they threatened to confiscate my entire case after I properly declared it. Luckily, but still very sad, I managed to negotiate to leave 3 bottles only and keep 9. I am sure the customs officers "destroyed" the wine as soon as practicable.

Helen & Joey

While I didn't have time to visit more wineries around Lethbridge, the following day we went to Healesville Animal Reserve and on the way back home we had to stop at some wineries. There were so many of them! We picked the one with an interesting name and, we were told, a beautiful view. And indeed the view was really fun.

We were served a variety of wines by the charming front desk girls. The winery has 3 levels of wines:
1. Entry level. Inara. Un-oaked, very young. And honestly, I really don't like this style of wine. Very acid.
2. A mid-level that turned out to be our favorite. Layla.
3. The Alena, their high end.

And they also make a "unique wine every year", a wine that is made as experiments by the winemaking team. Each year a different experiment.

And we left with 12 bottles, which were shipped home. But honestly, I don't remember what we bought, lets see what arrives in the mail.

And the obligatory Australian picture: