Brendon Keys - #007

Brendon Keys - #007

Posted by Ben Gould on

Kirsty and Brendon Keys are the fine people behind BK Wines, established in 2007, and located high in the Adelaide Hills.  BK wines are crafted from single vineyards sourced exclusively from the Adelaide Hills.  The wines are handmade and bottled onsite between dropping in on the skateboard ramp, DJ'ing and raising two boys.

Instagram @bkwines




George De Bouef
Blue Nun
Val d'Isere
Majestic Wines
Montana Wines
Wirra Wirra
Paul Hobbs
Vina Cobos
Lobethal Bierhaus
Blair Guthrie
Mayhem and Co
Revenir - Peter Leske
Jeff Gower
East End Cellars
Basket Range 
Bastian - St Remy Provence
Chardonnay Aligote
Sonoma Stone
Mega Purple
Andrew Neilsen




Please note, transcript not checked for accuracy

-conventional winemaking. There's a lot of shit conventional wines. But there's also some really great, fantastic conventional wines as is with natural ones, a lot of shit natural wine. But somewhere in the middle is harmony for both styles. Yeah, so I think we know where we need to go. I think there's a few people making excuses for shit wine at the moment and using that term as their selling point [inaudible 00:00:30].
Hello and welcome to another episode of Real Wine People. Today my guest is Brendon Keys, also known as BK, from BK Wines in the Adelaide Hills. I've known BK for a few years now and our conversation today over a bottle of wine stretches from how he and Kirsty met, to how they started BK Wines, to where they've been and where they're headed to next. And in between some discussions on French conspiracy theories, a little bit about some wine-making whether it's skin contact, pationt and the differences in concrete and concrete eggs, along with many other things.
Thanks to everyone so far who has rated the podcast and sent me feedback. It's very welcome, especially on how to fix our sound quality, which we're working on pretty hard, and who to interview next. Show notes and links to everything we spoke about are available or is available at Hope you enjoy this episode with BK.
[inaudible 00:01:51] This is me pretending I know what I'm doing.
It's all right.
Okay. Happy with that?
We just got to have it close enough so we can still drink a glass of wine.
Yeah, exactly. Just push it out of the way.
Bring it back in. I feels so professional.
All right.
All right.
I'm loving it.
Cool. So BK's going to open some wine. Here in Basket Range I've done for U-turns again to try and find the driveway. But I'm at BK's house from BK Wines. We're just going to have a chat about stuff and things. How are you tonight, BK?
Yeah. Yeah, I'm good. Yeah, it's a pretty nice morning hanging out with Artcher.
Doing some skidding?
Yeah. And Kristy and Remy have gone down to the friends in Malang at the Lake for the day.
They're going to have a day together and we get to have a day together. It's kind of nice.
I'm just going to wrestle this cork.
All right. What are we drinking?
Some Beaujolais.
Oh, fancy stuff.
I thought Beaujolais was cheap.
It used to be, I think.
Was that just [inaudible 00:02:59]?
Come on, that's the one we used to get. That's right. My guy, cheers.
Thanks man.
I guess we can start talking about maybe a bit about your history, how you got into wine, where you're from originally, et cetera. So from New Zealand?
Yeah, from New Zealand. How did I get into wine? It's funny, because I was thinking about this question the other day and Kirsty's been on that full journey with me since I got into wine. Our journey of drinking wine started with drinking CAS wine with lemonade on the front lawn.
Nice. The light in a boat, the old Coolabah.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What is it? Blue Nun or something like that from New Zealand.
Oh yeah.
Which is [inaudible 00:03:48], I think.
Sweet and [inaudible 00:03:51].
Well, the good stuff. And that was in?
That was in New Zealand in my hometown of [inaudible 00:03:59]. And at that time I was doing like three different jobs. I'd just finished a ski season. I was unemployed, the unemployment, the doll office, gave me a job at Briscoes which is kind of like Bunnings. I was shiffing in a restaurant under the table deejaying and also bartending. So, I had heaps of cash but no real commitment to anything until I met Kirsty.
Right, who whipped you into shape. How did you meet her?
Yeah, at the pub.
Were working behind the bar?
No, no. I just me her one night. Actually, I was helping a friend out in his skate shop and she came in and brought a pair of shoes off me-
-and then happened to be at the pub that weekend and I introduced myself to her.
Was she wearing the shoes?
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Clear black lobes.
Nice. Nice. And Kirsty's from the same hometown?
Yeah, Kirsty is is originally from Rotorua but then grew up in [inaudible 00:05:04] which is kind of known for kiwifruit, so about 40 minutes down the road.
She was a nurse, and she was a student nurse, so I hooked up with a student nurse.
You would have been a hero to all your mates.
But it's funny because, we were together for six months and moved to London together.
We thought we were just going to go for it, if it's going to work it's going to work and it's make or break in a relationship. And, yeah, we moved to London. I didn't have any money so she had to lend me $500 to put in my bank account to prove so I could get in the country.
So I'd get my working visa. And then we got to London and I didn't want to go cooking and Kirsty wasn't sure what we're going to do. And we didn't really want to hang around in London. It was just so hectic and everybody was doing these shit jobs for no money, so we moved to Cambridge.
Okay. Yeah, I've been there.
Kirsty took a job in the hematology ward and I took a job driving tractors.
Really? On what sort of farm?
We had a grain, peas and potatoes.
I think I worked like 13 hours a day for £3.75 an hour. But I think it was also the most money I'd ever saved because we just couldn't get any time off. But from there the owner of the farm, his best mate, had a ski chalet in the French Alps and we wanted to go and do a season in the French Alps. So we took a job working for them and it was a pretty, pretty, pretty sweet deal.
Where was the mountain?
Val d'lsere
Oh, yeah. Cool. And what was your job? Just ski lifts.
They had the three chalets and what it was is it was a chalet for friends and family. But the problem is the friends and family weren't respecting it, so they wanted someone there to look after the place. So I suggested, well, since we were there should we cook and do a set menu and then make it a bit more fun and a bit more structured. And, yeah, the owners thought that was a great idea. So what I would do was write a weekly menu and then we just did theme nights. So one night was Mexican, one was Italian, one was fondue. And it would be like tequila slammers, it'd be fondue and [inaudible 00:07:43] kind of-
Yeah, that sounds awesome.
-[inaudible 00:07:47] French spirit. So it was good. And it turned out that, I think… We were there for six or seven months and we only had six weeks of guests.
Oh, really?
So the rest of the time we just snowballed every day.
And just that you'd be Mexican nights, you'd have to do tequila slammers with Kirsty.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And it was a funny situation because we were cooking the food and they needed to buy our food. And when we had no guests, we got paid more money.
I see.
We used to cover our groceries.
Okay. You just lived like kings.
We lived like kings. And a friend of ours, Monica, was running the bar down the road. Occasionally I'd DJ there so we'd get free drinks.
Why did you ever leave?
I know. Now you look back and you're like, “Fuck, why did we leave back?” But, it's not a real world. But my sister went back the next year and then my God sister went two years after that, so I kind of keeped it in the family for as long as I could so Kirsty and I could still go out and stay.
But they owned Majestic Wines in London.
Oh, okay. The people who own the cello?
Yeah. So they had something like 70 or 90 retail stores. And so they said, “Oh, what are you going to do after the season?” And I said, “I don't know.” And they said, “Would you want to come and work for us?” So I went and worked for them.
In a store?
In a store. I just started off working in the floor and then ended up assistant manager. But it was an awesome introduction into wine.
As in they-
What year was this?
That was 2002. We had the millennium in Val d'lsere and then after the season we moved back to London. So that was mid-start of 2000 and halfway through the year. And then I went back and went back and sold wine. And it was awesome because they had so many good producers and there was so much opportunity and they always had a really good tasting budget. So because I only sold by case at a time, you weren't obliged to open a bottle for people to try before they purchased a case.
Right. Right. Where was this store? In central London.
We were in Bellin.
Oh, okay.
Actually, I started in Notting Hill and then moved to Bellin and [Clayton 00:10:17] junction. So we just lived on one side of the Clayton common and I just walked across the common area to work, which was great.
Yeah. Cool. And so, okay… You were there for how many years with Majestic?
I think, on and off, it was for like a year and a half-
Yeah, cool.
-so by then I'd done my working visa. And then Kirsty and I decided we were going to go to Canada. So we both got our one year working visas in Canada.
That's the under 30 one?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. To my 25th birthday I was in Val d'lsere, walk to Italy for the day to snowboard in Italy [crosstalk 00:10:58]-
Yeah. You get your lunch back, espresso and a [inaudible 00:11:00].
-back in the Val d'lsere.
So good.
So we got to Canada and Kirsty's auntie and uncle had been living on a yacht, so they'd sailed around the world for close to 20 years-
-then finished in Vancouver Island. And we had an opportunity to stay on the yacht and it was just so cold. We were just like, “Oh, fuck this. We're out of here.” And the other thing that happened is that I said, “All right, I'll get a job at a liquor store or work out something in wine.” But it was all government run, so it was-
Oh, of course.
-pretty hard and pretty uninteresting. And also Kirsty's registration, they needed at twice a year and the paperwork from London didn't show up for the first time. So we were going to have to wait six more months before she could apply again.
So we just said, “Oh fuck that. Let's just go snowboarding, have a holiday and then head back to New Zealand.” So we just went for a couple of months.
So up there with black whistler?
Now we went up to Calgary, did Fanny. We did like six or seven resorts over that period of time, which was just awesome. And then, yeah, then we are back to New Zealand. Shit, we're spending all our money. What are we going to do? And similar I thought I'll try and find a wine retail and couldn't really find anything interesting. So I did a bit of research and found a viticulture and wine making course in Gisbon in the North Ireland and then went back to school and study wine making.
And how long did that take?
That was like full-time for a year, which is pretty intense. I managed vineyard at the same time. Before it started, I was there a little bit early so I did vintage for Montana Wines and then the large factory [inaudible 00:13:08]. My job was inoculation.
Right, the infector.
So all I did all day was mix that beast. And it's funny because it it was such a big complex that it took 9,000 liters of water to get it to one tank on the other side of the winery.
So I pumped 9,000 liters of water through to clear the lines. I put the 200 liters of yeast culture through and then the 9,000 liters to clear it through. It was insane.
And you're on walkie talkies to someone at the other end-
Yeah. It was insane.
-waiting to look like-
But it was exciting. I learned a lot of it so it was fun. But what I really fell in love was Sharez at the time out of McLaren Vale. Tatachilla was doing all those really cool interesting wines and I was like, “Wow, these are red.” So when I finished studying I was like, “All right, let's go back to Australia.” There wasn't really any jobs in New Zealand unless I wanted to move down South and make Savignin Blanc. I wasn't really interested in that, so we moved to moved to McLaren Vale.
And how did that decision go down with Kirsty?
Awesome. She was into it. She was like, “Yeah, yeah. There's not enough work.” She wasn't really enjoying her job. She was at accident and emergency in Brisbane hospital, so it was a pretty fucking heavy scene. There's one story one night where some guys in one of the local gangs had tried to get their other mate to buy the beers and he wouldn't give the money over. So they smashed his head with a hammer.
Oh God.
So Kristy had him and [inaudible 00:14:52] kind of brain dead wandering around. She was like, “Fuck this. I need to get out of here. I don't want to be here doing this.”
So to clear about the decision, did you have a job before [crosstalk 00:15:02]
We moved to Adelaide. We thought maybe the Bourassa and then we thought McLaren Vale. I didn't want to live in the Bourassa, it was too far away. There wasn't enough nightlife or nothing's happening.
So Kirsty took a job at Flinders Hospital and I could just drive to McLaren Vale every day.
Great. And when you were driving there, where were you working first?
The first job I took was with [inaudible 00:15:27] straight away.
Oh, nice. And that was a vintage position or…?
No, it was outside of vintage. It was a cellar hands, which turned into cellar manager assistant wine maker.
Great. But that place is pretty big, isn't it?
Yeah. It was, maybe, 2000, 3000 tons.
So in the scheme of things, not very big. It's still seen as, and they [inaudible 00:15:54] still see themselves as a boutique winery.
Right. And they'd be again it?
No. That's small in Lindenberg, or similar size. But it was great, so much. And I employed a few friends of mine from New Zealand to come and do harvest. One of them was a friend of mine, Phil Bob, that I'd studied with. And then he had gone and worked in California. I said, “Look, I need to do a California vintage.” So he got me a job working for Paul Hobbs in Russian River.
Oh, cool.
So, from there… Jeez, it's getting on. Hope we don't have to stand, right? I can tell I'm getting old now.
This is my 95th vintage.
Desire, isn't it?
Well, yeah, so I went to California for a vintage. I stayed there a little bit longer than I should have. My boss was like, “Come back. You need to come back.” And I was like, “Oh, fuck.” And in the U.S. were like, “We can offer you a position.” i said, “All right. Well, I need to go home, sought out some things.” And I got home and then I think I went straight into harvest again because [inaudible 00:17:14] California November. And then, yeah, it was home for a little bit then went into harvest. Did harvest, California offered me a job to go to Argentina-
Really? I didn't know any of this.
-to set up a new winery in Argentina for them.
That was in Mendoza or [inaudible 00:17:31]?
Yeah. They had a really big project going ahead Mendoza-
-in Lujan De Cuyo for a project called Vina Cobos.
Okay. And that's South, isn't it, of Mendoza. Is that right?
It's closer. I don't know if it's South. It always felt kind of East to me. But the winery was to basically looking North, I thought, and then out to the East was the Andes.
Yeah. Cool.
But it was a pretty amazing place. It was bizarre. I didn't get paid. I didn't get paid. I'd been there for six months, I hadn't been paid.
It was an oversight.
They'd give me a couple of hundred dollars. They said I was still sorting out your visa, we can't really pay you properly. So I was ringing my boss in California saying, “Dude, I haven't been paid.” And they were like, “Well, right. We'll get onto this. We'll get it sorted.” And then now a couple of weeks would go by, and they'd drip feed me a bit of money. And I was supposed to be there for a two year contract and after I'd been there for that six months Kirsty came up and she tried to get a job as a nurse. And she said, “Oh man, this is chaotic.” And then she was stuck out in the middle of nowhere while was working like 13 1415 hours a day. And she said, “Oh man, we got to get out of here.”
And then you came back to Adelaide?
Came back to New Zealand.
Oh really?
Yeah. And then we were mucking around trying to find a job. We almost brought this really rickety vineyard property in [inaudible 00:19:13]. And, again, my friend Phil said, “Man. Adelaide I was awesome. Why do you guys go back to Adelaide? I loved hanging out with you guys over there.” And the next day Kirsty and I were like, “Yeah, fuck it. Let's just go back to Adelaide.” So I came back here and I took a job for a small winery up in Lobethal. Two months later, we brought a house.
This house?
No. A little cottage in Lobethal. And then I worked for him for one vintage and then he turned out to be a fucking lunatic. And he had 110 license and under 300 ton from-
Oh, wow.
-with all VCs, a half ton press and no proper refrigeration. What I would do is I had this beautiful girl Mazzie. Now, Jim and Shawty had just passed away. She was just about 15, so she's been with us through all of it. We got married when we were working at where we are at. We got here three weeks after we got married. So when we went to Argentina the dog breeder said, “Look, I'll take you back for a year, but after a year you've got to rehouse it.” We got back inside the year. Mazzie was so excited to see us. And they said, “Oh, look, while Mazzie's he's been here she's met this great friend. His name's sparks.”
So Kirsty's like, “Oh, we can't have another dog. I just finally rocked out with this dog.” And she was like, “What are we going to do with two dogs?” And we've got the base thing because they were best buddies. When you leave the dogs at home, they can entertain each other. And they just came to work with me every day anyway, so it was fine.
But, yeah. So I took that job and then their go was crazy so I was like, “Oh fuck it. I'm sick of wine.” So I went to work for wine equip really for six or eight months selling winery equipment [crosstalk 00:21:22]equipment was this stuff.
Which was all in a shit load.
Of stuff while I was there. But it also put me in a position to buy a couple of tanks, buy a pump and buy all the bits and pieces. And another friend of mine had a winery just down the road so I could press my grapes there. I rented a space behind the Lobethal Bierhaus and I did the second vintage of BK Wines.
And what year was that?
That was ‘08.
‘07 I made two barrels of Pinon while I was working for that other guy and we've always taken the logo… established in 2007 but it was only two barrels.
Two barrels. Oh, yeah. That's establishing something.
Yeah. But then near the ‘08 while I was working for wine equip we did four tons. So one ton of gri, one ton of pino, one of Chardonnay, one ton of Seraph.
Wow. Big time.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well I thought it. And then the next year after that the, this guy approached me about building a new winery over at [Nian 00:22:36].
Is that far from here?
it's kind of over by Mount Barker, at the other side of the Hills here kind of just down the road… kind of five minutes down the road for [inaudible 00:22:47].
Yeah. Cool.
And there, they wanted to buy a 3,000 ton winery and they said that that's what the Adelaide Hills needs. And I was just like, “Adelaide Hills does not need A 3,000 ton winery,” so I managed to get them to downsize it and we were going to try and build it in four stages. So the first stage was like a 200 ton stage. And then I'd looked for an assistant wine maker from the course that I'd studied in New Zealand, so friend Blair Guthrie came to worked for me as the assistant. And, yeah, we did a couple of hundred ton there that first year and it was insane, man. And we just-
In what way?
Just the volume coming in. We kind of underestimated what we we're going to work and we're taking fruit from multiple different regions. And I was trying to try to emulate the equipment and the stall and the way we'd made wine in California but we were taking light machine harvested fruit from Langhorne Creek.
And we took some really good fruit from the Hills. They had a beautiful Savignin Blanc vineyard there. And, well, I realized pretty quickly when I'd made like nine [coolays 00:24:18] close to 300 tons with the grapes they had no marketing. They had no brand, and had not thought about it. So one of the business partners who was supposed to be head of marketing said, “What's the plan?” And he said, “Don't worry, you just focus on wine making I'll worry about the marketing.” So I keep hammering him about it saying what-
Because he had a bottle of the stuff.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And he was actually an 82 year old real estate agent who was supposed to be in charge of marketing.
And I managed to go to a meeting and get it out of him what was the business plan? And it was to make a place mat that we were going to take all over town, and that's how we were going to market the wines.
And, what? Restaurants would have the placement on the table.
Yes, that was the extent of it.
Did it work?
We never got to that style.
Oh, right.
So I was like, “Right, I've got to think of a name.” So I called it Mayhem & Co. because that's exactly what it was.
And so he put this brand together called Mayhem & Co. I just went on to 99 Designs, gave them the concept and they put the label together. And then I just managed to bottle this wine and I was like, “Fuck, we need to employ and invest in a marketing person.” So we invested into a marketing person, started to really get the ball rolling. IT turned out that the business partner sold 20 liters of wine in total to the local golf club.
That's pretty good.
But it also turned out that every time he wrote my check for wages, he wrote himself one and he hadn't invested any money into the business at all. So, I had to tell the other business partner this is what had happened so you can imagine. And we're just supposed to be his best mate.
Which is hard. Yeah, I know.
So it was just getting more and more poisonous. And then the other guy just said, “Oh, I need to need to sell this.” The good thing is that I'd continued to be doing BK Wines and then I always made sure it was in my contract that I could continue to make my own wines.
And you were doing [inaudible 00:26:59] at that point?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And it was a beautiful winery.
And Is BK Brendon Keys, or is it Brendon and Kirsty?
It's both. I've always been BK and, yeah, it's Brendan and Kirsty.
Yeah. She's not here, but she will listen to this one day, I think.
Yeah, it doesn't matter. She kind of doesn't want it sometimes. She's like, “Don't say that.” But, yeah, it's 100 her and I.
None of this works without each other. She's pretty good at doing all the shit stuff in the background. She's definitely better at chasing debt that I am.
Yeah. It's good cop, bad cop.
That's good, man. Letting all your secrets out.
But, yeah, she's definitely a big part of it and we've been together this year, I think, 22 years.
Wow. Wow.
So we can tell each other when we're dickheads and we piss each other off, but I think we're pretty open with conversation about that stuff. And I think you need to be, especially because we work really well together. But when you're in a working relationship like that you need to have that open dialogue.
Oh, absolutely.
Otherwise adjusting relationships you just keep talking. It just applies pressure, which is unnecessary. And you know as well as I do, it's a stressful industry.
Yeah, lots of points of failure that's for sure.
Yeah. And a lot of people with the idea of how it works but no idea about how it really works. So from there, that situation, one of the guys and one of the other guys I'd been making wine for said, “Look, let's do this other project.” And I was like-
What was the other project, sorry.
There was another guy I don't really want to talk about, another brand, called-
But you would get… the other project was leave my Mayhem &Co. because they put their winery on the market. And then I was like, “What am I going to do now?”
Sure. And at that time you were selling BK Wines that had made yourself?>
Yeah. I started to find distribution, a bit of export and stuff like that. Still really hadn't taken a wage from BK Wines. I think it was year seven I took a wage.
Yeah, wow.
So then we wrestled together some money with these other two guys, purchased some equipment and started renting a shed to make our wines over at Revenir with Peter Lisky.
And Terrace was here at the time. And, yeah, we just started and started making the wines there. When [inaudible 00:30:06] was doing a ride and then the other guys, one didn't have any idea about wine whatsoever. Again, like the idea of it.
The other one, similar. So 2015… When did we buy this place? So first harvest here was 2017.
Wow. That's a cool little shed you've got down there.
Yeah. It's-
This skate room, all sorts of stuff happening. How many skateboards are down there? How many skateboard decks.
There's a few.
But it's… Again, I've worked in wineries and it's a sterile lab or a sterile environment and I'm like, “Fuck, I never drink wine in this environment. Why am I trying to work in this environment?” So when we got to do our own project here it was like, “Right, this is how I want it to be.”
I like to drink wine with loud music. I like it to feel cozy or tactile, it needs to be visually stimulating. I think all those things is… And when we first start winemaking, and I've only realized this in 2018 vintage, you're trying to understand what great wine. I was lucky enough along the way to pick up some pretty awesome vineyards through contract winemaking for other people. I kind of picked the bits and pieces out that I really like. Chardonnay vineyard, that was that 2008 vintage, so I've had that vineyard since then.
And what's that one called?
That's called Swaby?
Yeah. So I've had that vineyard ever since. 2010 Jeff Gower came to me and said, “Did you want to make [inaudible 00:32:06] from my vineyard?” So I've had that since then, so that's the [inaudible 00:32:11].
That's the [inaudible 00:32:12], yeah.
So I've to continue with that vineyard, and it hasn't really been a lot of change in between. I've pretty much stuck with the same guys because I also believe that if you're swapping and changing you're not really understanding the site, the place. You're constantly trying to readapt for the new grapes rather than understanding or getting better what you're doing.
Yeah. That's right.
Because Mother Nature, as you know, throws so much at us anyway. So imagine trying to see some sort of consistency with a new brand if you're constantly changing. Then you have to do that with your winemaking rather than letting the vineyard do its own thing.
And making incremental improvements and then learning from the season. Yeah, coming from the same, the same baseline. So working in all the big places, I mean your wine making was single site, most of it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
From regions ranging?
It has been from Adelaide Hills, Blewitt Springs and McLaren Vale. Now it's 100% Adelaide Hills.
I think it was starting to lose the story. We were always doing about Adelaide Hills and then there was these wines on the side.
And the wines were, I think, were always stunning, beautiful wines, 50 year old dry ground, biodynamic fruit out of Blewitt Springs. You can't go wrong. I always think if you can't make sure you should change fucking jobs itself, especially with quality of fruit like that. You've just got to be the vessel to get it to the bottle.
That's right. You have to shepherd it to where it needs to go.
And it was a good friend's vineyard and I always loved dealing with them. Their relationship was awesome. I just think going in a bit of a different direction now with BK Wines as a brand.
Sure. So all the fruits are Adelaide Hills?
Everything's wild fermented.
Yeah. Yeah, We've never inoculated since we started with BK Wines. Only Paul Hobbs was a real advocate of making wine that way, so I learned those techniques from him right from the beginning.
Great. Yeah, you mentioned that. You said he, when you were trying to make wine like the California winery, so that was-
Yeah. It was in that kind of style.
He was wild ferment. What other sort of things did he [inaudible 00:34:46]?
I like Chardonnay. I used way too much Oak and I picked it at 14 [inaudible 00:34:53].
But I guess that was my own way and passion for Chardonnay started, I think. I just loved Chardonnay and it's evolved since then.
But I think it'll continue to, you never know. In 10 years you won't be back there.
I think what we need to remember is it's agricultural, it's art, but it is still a portion of fashion, Like we are victims of fashion really in some ways.
Especially with that new cool hat you gave me.
Yeah. But-
It's the coolest hat I've ever had.
And the wines that we drink, it's exactly the same. It's like, “Oh, what's this? It's new.” And it's because, I guess, we're always searching for something a little bit different, a bit new and we do take influence from our environment, all the wines we're drinking.
And there's certainly an environment now here in the Hills with all of that, a lot of natural producers.
Yeah. And that, for me, is a personal journey. I got really sick in 2016 so I've been battling that for the last couple of years. And I'd already used some organic fruit but I think I've also made a lifestyle change for all of us, for Kirsty, myself and the boys. I think it's important to know where we're eating out our food from. I think a good butcher down the road is essential. We're lucky enough to get all of our fruit and vegetables from Noringa.
Oh, yeah. There he's a legend here.
Then we get out our veggie basket once a week. And then now it's my journey to make wines that way and understand them and do it to it for personal just as much as I like those wines. I don't really want to use the term natural wine because I think it's like saying craft beer. It's just a term that people can catch onto so that they can understand something. But conventional wine-making, there's a lot of shit conventional wines. But there's also some really great, fantastic conventional wines as is with natural wines. There's a lot of shit natural wine.
But somewhere in the middle is harmony for both styles. But, yeah, I think we know we need to go. I think there's a few people making excuses for shit wine at the moment and using that term as the selling point rather than the quality of wine.
Sure. Yeah. No, and I agree with you there. I think there's an evolution for all of this. It's one as you're talking people want to know how their grapes or wine is grown, what goes in it and who makes it, where is it from. And then there's some times extremes to that, but then it doesn't move very far away from that. But, yeah, the answers are in the middle. Everything's informing everything else.
And my old shooter, Anita, told me that it's all about balance. And then as we get a little bit older and a bit wiser we've realized all of that's about balance. It's balance in the vineyard, it's balanced in the winery, it's balance in your marriage, is balance in your whole life. It's balancing all of that. You can get wrecked one night, but then you have a few nights off to get balance.
Ying and yang.
Yeah, exactly. And I don't think too much of me there. So, I don't know. I think it's we're pretty lucky about the industry working and, yeah, I don't know how… I learnt a lot, as I said, over the last couple of years. Before, maybe I was trying too hard or maybe I was a try hard. I don't know. I was trying to push wines into a direction I thought they wanted to go. And now I'm more confident with the vineyards and I'm stepping back more and more to let them… Because it was like a light bulb moment. I've found great vineyards, I have great fruit, so why am I trying to manipulate it with Oak and try and manipulate the fermentation for temperature and stuff and try and pick up really early because I'm stressing out about pH.
Now I'm like, “Okay, pH is a bit higher. It makes the wines a bit more open when they're young. They don't seem to deteriorate any quicker.” But, again, that's what we're taught.
Yeah, that's right.
Your mindset is-
But that's part of what you need to know. I think you need to know the rules before you can bend them [inaudible 00:40:05].
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Yeah. Cool. So you make it like lots of different styles. What was the first year you were doing the Petnet? Is Petnet yours or just petty on nitro? What's the-
Yeah, petty on nitro. I think I was monitoring ‘13.
Oh, okay.
‘13 was the first vintage. Yeah, I drank fordaine and ‘15 in Japan last week.
Oh, nice.
They were pretty damn cloudy, but they seem to hold up really well. There's still fruit profile there and their Lee's is kind of built texture and a scavenging bit of oxygen along the way as well.
Sure. And has your technique changed over?
Rapidly and massively, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse because it is such a unpredictable product. So I'm trying to eliminate some of those parts of it. But I think ‘18 vintage, we disgorged. It was just kind of a cloudy ruffed disgorge.
You did it here yourself?
No. Okay, so I'm a believer in get it to where I like with the sugar level and then cool it down.
I sent the samples down to the AWRI and they sent it back and told me it was 15 grams. I'm like, “Bang, let's cool it down and start bottling.” So I started bottling, because I'd already set up that diner and [inaudible 00:41:57] and hopefully that's ready to go. And two days later they just sent back to me and said, “Oh, sorry. We gave you a wrong number. You actually had 25 grams of sugar in there.”
Ooh, okay. So you're looking at more, sort of champagne CaroMont levels for [inaudible 00:42:18].
So I think it was four and a half but I'm not 100% sure. But the bottles I was using were only for four, so I was lucky it hadn't exploded. But we had to open them all and drop the middle leaves out and then just recap them.
Sure. Great.
So this year, I think we're pretty good.
Okay. nice.
We're back with it being pretty rough rack, pretty cloudy, but cold stabilize. So, hopefully, we shouldn't have any nucleation points in there.
Oh, all those big, fancy words.
Yeah, we changed ours. We call it stabilize. Ours is just called pation. I mean, we have evolved. We did just bottle a Thurman at one point, but now we get through fem and get through Milo and cold stabilize - rough, cold stabilize. So you just put them outside or whatever. And then, meanwhile, we've frozen juice and then we add the juice back at the level we want and then re-bottle or just bottle it and that's it. We don't really [inaudible 00:43:26]. Because we're dealing with clear juice we don't get as much deposit so we don't have to disgorge, but there's not as much food in there and the yeast really struggle. And I think last year's took four or five months to ferment.
Yeah. I had a real stinky one last year too.
It got really reductive. Similarly, I think it had too much sugar. Sugar and not enough food.
Okay. What do you do in that situation?
Just hope it goes away.
Yeah, sure.
I don't mind reduction. I'm a fan of reduction in my wines because I always think reduction is better than how to hide.
True. Reduction can also protect from oxygen as well.
Exactly. And I like the wines to be a little bit shy. You kind of open up and there's not much to there and you got to hold onto them and look at them and throughout the bottle of wine you start to more and more. And then it starts to really show itself when the bottle is finished.
And you're like, “Fuck.” So you're always on that-
So then get everyone to buy another bottle.
Yeah. Well, you're always on that kind of… you're a little bit pissed off like, “Fuck, I wish that bottle was bigger,” or, “I just want a bit more.” And it sits in your mind. You're always like, “Ah, I want to have that again.”
Sure. Yeah, I guess you see it evolving in the glass. So at the beginning, let's say 2008, you had the full varieties, did you?
So 2009, were you selling those to distributors or were you going out in any markets yourself?
No, we did it all ourselves.
Right. You could just knock on doors. And then you started in Adelaide and-
Oh, yeah. And it was so funny because you forget about it now. We were so excited just to sell your booze you would sell it to anybody.
Yeah, at any price.
Yeah. And then you started realizing that most of the people that were buying it were because no one else would supply them.
Our whole brand, nice.
So they'd keep taking and you're like, “Ah, sweet. They love it.” And you hadn't been paid for any of it. You know? Fuck, that's why. No one else would supply them anymore because their debt was so-
Sure. Yeah.
And you had these little goals, you want to get into this market and I think as I've kind of learnt it you don't really push it. But if you apply pressure to certain things, eventually it'll come to fruition.
But I always remember selling it to East End Cellars. It was like, “Yes.”
Doing high fives to yourself.
Yeah, you kind of feel like you've made it because that was the one of the places in Adelaide you went for wine.
It still is.
If you went in there and Gus liked your wines, you'd made the big time. In all reality, it didn't really change much. I still wasn't making a wage.
Sure. Yeah. Yeah, so seven years till you made a wage. Was there any point that you'd gone out somewhere , not for work, say a restaurant or a bottle store, and you've seen someone either pick your wine up or have it served at the table? I know it would have happened, but is there any of the early points that you were just like, “Yeah, that sounds…”
Yeah, there definitely was. I just can't remember one right now. Shit, it's funny.
Everyone was buying it. It was just such a blur.
Wow. No, they were. That was such a challenge. Somewhere in there we tried to do a sell a door.
Really? Where? Here?
Yeah. No, no. And so when I stayed with the guys AT Mayhem &Co., because we didn't have a lot of distribution over in Charleston just down the road from our house, we rented a cellar door over there and it was an old chocolate factory. And the guy just sat around chocolate and watched porn, so it was pretty weird going in there. But we cleaned it out.
Got rid of him?
Right, because he owned the building. So we cleaned it out, did it all up and it was awesome. And then once we did it all out, the fucker put it on the market. And this girl, Nicki, she wanted to set it up as a knick-knack kind of clothing store but she didn't want us not to be there. She said let's go 50-50.
Right. So half knick-knacks half wines?
Yeah. Which is cool because we had a lot of cool events there, we had the turn tables set up there. It was great. And it had a really big lawn. It was really good. But then we had Archer and then Kirsty was pregnant with Remy and we were spending every weekend there. Yeah, great, we're selling wine direct but that's the point in time we decided we needed to find distribution.
That's my phone, it will stop in a second.
Oh, it's your phone? [Inaudible 00:48:37] tapping drumsticks.
But, again, it was a business because we weren't making a lot of money and we were like, “Ah, we've got to give up like 30%.” And then you're like, “Right, okay, for the next few years see how it goes. Give up 30% so we can spend time with the kids.” And Hunter Gumboots and whatever else was slowly encroaching more and more. And when we started to have a Vince, it was harder and harder so all things were leading for that to happen.
Yeah. I think it's evolving too. For the longest time, I was doing all the sales in Perth and then when… I've already had a wholesaler for two years now and I was like, “Oh, we can't give up the 30%. We don't need to keep going if we're not making profit, whatever.” And pretty soon it was obvious that I was really bad at what I was doing for all those years and we didn't lose 30% at all.
No. Well, I think that's because you've got so many balls in the year at all times. You're like, “Oh shit, I got to get there, got to do this, got to do that.” And then we are trying to maintain a good family life. I've got my children because I want to spend time with them. I have my wife because I want to spend time with her.
Well I had kids mainly for pruners. They're a little bit cheaper.
Yeah, eventually.
No, that's right. You do. And the idea of where the places that we live in the country and it's a great place to bring up a family. But, yeah, that 30% things is hard. I've also realized that I'm probably not that good at selling BK Wines in Adelaide, which we're doing again now.
Yeah. So we went back to doing it ourselves because at one stage I was making wine for seven brands.
Oh, okay.
So we just do BK Wines at home now. I make some bubbles for one other person and a couple of bits and pieces for them but it's not really taking any attention away from what I do.
And then I was like, well, we're just doing the small amount of wine at home. Maybe I'll have more time to go out and sell it. I'm definitely spending more time on the road again, which I really enjoy the travel side of it.
That's great.
But as far as… I'm not really finding any new accounts in Adelaide. I just got to be exited [inaudible 00:51:07]. I just go to the same people all the time, “Oh, please take our wine.”
At least it's only half an hour, or 20 minutes down the road.
Yeah, 25 minutes, which is awesome.
Three hours from Perth.
Yeah, it's commitment.
Yeah. I used to do day trips all the time and I had the whole thing nailed. I'd leave at quarter to seven so by the time I hit the freeway the peak hour was gone and then hit your first appointment at 10 when someone wants to see you. And then at about quarter to three, before the school run, I'd hit the highway South so that I'd only smash and grab four or five appointments and I'd be home for dinner.
But that's kind of, I think… Four or five is good for a day. I think you work out one hour each appointment because of a bit of flexibility if somebody else wants to see something or you want to spend a bit longer somewhere. And then you kind of stay focused. I think any more than that you lose it a bit.
Yeah. Yeah. Records alone and that killed me.
Oh, man. I tasted it in Chicago. I'd missed my flights so I had miss my whole day and then the next day they had me to try and do all the same appointments that I'd missed plus that day's appointment. I think I arrived at like seven in the morning. They said, “Go and have a sleep for half an hour and then let's go.” And I went and the last appointment was 11:30 at night. And as I say, not… But Chicago in the summertime. Yeah, what a beautiful place.
Oh yeah. Yeah, it is. Isn't it?
It's got a good vibe too.
So where to from here? So this beautiful property you've got now in Basket Range with the winery in the house, is there a space to plant some vines?
I've looked at spacing. I'll probably do two meter rows of one meter spacings. The variety changes daily.
Right. What's the latest? [inaudible 00:53:03].
Just about. When we were in our SAS a couple years ago, when I walked away from the other wines, I found the most exciting was Pinot Blanc and it's pretty early ripening. It's pretty cool up here, so we could probably get away with it. I just don't know how thick skinned it is. Pinot Blanc could be kind of cool.
And you'd make a dry still white?
Still white, probably, concrete it for 10 months. That would be kind of the style, Again, to show purity of fruit. But then again a little lot this year. So my good friend, Best Ian, he's got ClaudiaStino wines in St. Remy Provence. Best Ian had an awesome story. Best Ian worked for me at that first vintage in Lobethal with the crazy guy.
Oh really?
He was just familiar Paris at the time. And Best Ian can be a bit… I don't want him meant to take offense [inaudible 00:54:08] but here's this, but he can be a bit of a conspiracy theorists so the whole world's against him at all times. But, he's a beautiful person. And if I could spend more time with him and his family, with my family there together, it's such a pleasure to go there. But I learned, and I don't know how true this is, but in my mind I think it's true and I think it's a good idea, it's that we always look at Burgundy and these other regions and we think, “Okay, I want to make this Chardonnay that looks like that.”
But there's always multiple varieties inside of those vineyards, so it's never single varietals in that vineyard. And Best Ian told me that in his new vineyard he's just planted every 10th vine is a different variety. And I like the idea and I think it works. I'm one of these people that I need to put it in action for me to understand it. It's like people that ask, “So why are you fermenting with concrete eggs? Is it trendy?” And I'm like, “Well no. Because I've made Pinot gri since I was a student, I've made it every single way, and I liked the texture in the white of barrel ferment but I don't like the addition of Oak.”
Yes. A friend of mine in California was making Savignin blanc and these concrete egg and I was like, “Cool, purity of fruit, texture, weight, no Oak influence.”
And some breathability.
Exactly. The permeability is what I think helps with that texture and the weight and gives it character. So I was like, “Right, I'm going to buy them for pinot gri.” So I solely went out and brought them for Pinot gri.
Really? Wow.
We did the Petnet and in it now, so I fermented in there and then when it's just about finished blend it in tank before bottling.
Are you just doing full dirty juice into the…?
Yeah, dirty press. Full solar's third press. Press trays got big holes in it so quite often there's a lot of fruit in there as well.
All right. Nice.
I could say it's skin contact as well if I wanted to. If I want to.
0.5% skin contact?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. I'd just take a photo of it and put it on Instagram. Well, when we got the new vineyard we'd already had the non blot eggs and… Wait, this is what you were saying about… Who is it? Best Ian?
So we had the Chardonnay block… And speaking of burgundy, it was at this big playground when we bought the new vineyard. We couldn't honestly believe the bank would lend us the money to buy it. So we started grafting things and we wanted and one of the things we did was start grafting [inaudible 00:56:57] onto the Chardonnay. Our Chardonnay is the blend of the two, and we do use the concrete egg. Again, we've-
Was it bottled down there for me?
Oh, no, it's sold out at one. I'll send you one. Have you not tried it?
Oh, Reggie's got some. We'll get one up to you. And then yet dirty juice into barrel. A mixture of old Oak. I think the newest Oak we have ever had is three year old white Oak because we buy barrels every year. Yeah. And so just opened concrete egg. But, yeah, the eggs are amazing and it's amazing for texture too. So we've put in, aside from the Chardonnay, that whole conviction current thing, we've made some wines that are so textural that you can't drink them.
But when you blend them back, sort of, 2010 20%, it just adds a completely different texture than what you'd expect until you do that bench trial or your blend it. But beautiful sleepiness and white but you drink it by yourself and you're just like, “This is the grossest thing in the world.”
So if you only got non bloc?
We've only got two non-bloc eggs. Yeah. So I went for Sonoma Stone, I went and visited the factory.
Oh cool. Yeah.
And then I brought non bloc.
Yeah, you have one of each, don't you?
One of each, which is amazing because-
Painted pool black as well.
-they look completely different. Every time the wines. And it's when their components come together you get a complete wine. It's bizarre.
So do you just fermenting them and bring them out and push something else through them or?
No, I just ferment, end them and leave there. [crosstalk 00:58:29], don't touch them for 10 months.
Right. For the Petnet?
Petnet comes in earlier than the pinot gri so I leave the pinot gri about 121/2 13 [inaudible 00:58:39]. So by the end the pitnet's gone to bottle. And also I pull the pinot gri out in December, so I'm trying not to have them empty for too long.
Because what I've learned is now I don't really clean them.
Yeah. And they're very hard to clean.
They're really hard to clean. And the attach rate is probably helping to neutralize the pH of their concrete.
Yeah. Well I certainly know the first year that we filled them you could almost hear the sizzling from the acid reacting with the concrete.
Well, someone told me that the best way to clean them was bicarb soda.
Oh, okay. We were just using tartaric.
Yeah, okay.
But we meant to season them at the start, which we did.
Which I do.
But I guess whatever we put in was a lot more acidic than the mixture we'd made up to clean them.
Yeah. Well, because all of our main [inaudible 00:59:31] now is all in concrete.
Right. Of course, you've got those big tanks down there.
And those, we'd just make a really strong tartaric mix and we just pump it over in there and then just watch the pH-
Oh, right.
-and the solution just to see if it's changing.
If it changes.
Yeah. So then when I think if it's not changing then we've obviously saturated it.
So what you're trying to do with the eggs is empty them and refill them immediately?
Yeah, pretty much.
We've got a similar problem. We bought some… I can never say this right. Kvevri, Georgian Kvevri, and we buried them in the bush next to… So you've just got the winery and then surrounded by vineyard and then at the edge of the vineyard is like six days of Marion, Jarrah, et cetera. We've buried these two Kvevri. Want to say that right again, do I?
Say it again?
Yeah, I can't.
No, I can't remember.
Okay, that's locked away. So we've buried these two.
[inaudible 01:00:37].
It would be more boujuley to say [inaudible 01:00:40], right? So we filled some with pinot gri and the other ones with Shannon on the spent [inaudible 01:00:48] skins, fermented them, lock them up, et cetera. They're now buried. We have got these glass leads and we sealed them with clay and we buried them. And I want to pull them out after six months because it's six months skin contact.
Yeah. But it's also good because you can't fucking wait.
Yeah, I know. But then they sit there for another six months, in the bush with perhaps a cover on them, but what's happening in… you can't clean them. There's no drain at the bottom. They're buried clay vessels.
So much you need to pull them out the day before you're going to refill them.
Well, that is the plan too. Well, that is one of the many plans. We haven't decided. Or we have to pull it out and then just chuck something else in there, just a still white or something that's finished, and then pull that out and I don't know. Have you had an experience leaving stuff in skins for a year?
Yeah. We do skin and bones Pinot and the first vintage that was 300 days on skins.
And there was an experimentation and me trying to understand by not working the ferment and getting that really fine tenant to create balance. But it was like a really old Barolo at the end.
Yeah. Oh, okay. Yeah, right.
It was brown. Beautifully [inaudible 01:02:07], awesome, fine tunnel line. But I'm always constantly trying to say people, “Don't look at it. Just fucking drink it.”
Yeah. Yeah, it's a Mega Purple mint.
But, we've come a long way back there. And it's also I've learned… because that was in barrel. I handy steamed the fruit into the barrels.
And just dropped the berries in?
Yeah, right.
And then that was [crosstalk 01:02:32]. But then from there, I tried doing it on skins and tank and I found stainless steel being so inert and reductive. It took a long, long time to get that fineness.
And now that we have that softness and that permeability in concrete, I can get the same kind of thing after a couple of weeks.
Yeah. Okay.
It's awesome. Because, again-
And then you keep the freshness as well.
This is the most important thing. I find pinot wine, especially Adelaide who's pinot wine why becomes very dry red really quickly, so I try to do everything to catch her aromatics. So I try not to work it. Because every time you plunge them or pump them over or macerate you're essentially blowing aromatic off. So we try and we'll do like a two minute pump over in the morning and then keep it sealed up for seven days. So that's the amount of cap action. And, again, I'm learning more about… Oxygen is kind of the enemy because if you lose that CO2 that's when they start to go volatile. But if you could maintain that CO2 and keep the air away from them completely it doesn't happen.
Yeah. Okay. Okay, that makes sense.
And so I've done the Mazzie and then there was the sparks which became the Shiraz and the grenish. And those are 100% hundred percent whole bunch Shiraz and grenish. But I just chucked them in a tank, locked them up and didn't touch them for one month.
Yeah. Right.
And that was trying to prove another point because I could never work it out. Well, I could work it out now that I understand it now. In a larger winery, they need to turn the vessel over three or four times a vintage because of the volume coming in versus the amount of vessels they had. So we had one vessel per variety, which is kind of the joy of having a small winery as you know. I'd leave it in there and not touch it and people would go, “Oh, it'll be really stalky. It'll have no color.” It's completely the opposite because you're not shifting out immediately when it's-
Well, because what you would do… when you work them a lot, you get that really big tendon, those chunky tendons which are hard, but they seem to collapse real quickly. When I first started learning how to make Shiraz, it was seven day ferment, two to three punch down or pump overs a day, and then go to barrel for 18 months to try and remove all that hard tendon.
Yeah. Ah, okay. I understand what you're saying.
Yeah. So by locking in a tank and not touching it, letting the fruit break down naturally, you get a fine pretty tendon. So after 10 months in barrel, you can release them into the market. They're really approachable. But that real fine tendon, I think, ages beautifully so you get the best of both worlds. Primary bright fruit, still approachable, but there's longevity in it.
They get prettier and that secondary character comes in after time.
So is that the extended macerations stuff that you…?
That's the extended maceration?
Yeah. So then all the tendons combined [inaudible 01:06:06] peak and get super tannic and then they all combine and level out.
Yeah. And also if you have a whole bunch and you worked that a lot, even if you do 10% whole bunch and the rest is stemmed, if you're doing that much cap action on it you're extracting from the stalk all the time so they become stalky.
But if you leave them and don't touch them, the juice is sitting in the bottom. It's not getting passed through that stalk, so it's not stalky. So it can look less stalky than a wine that's got 90% whole berry [inaudible 01:06:48] steamed.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, we've played with that extended maceration stuff a bit. We do a Cabernet, it's obviously tan and central, and we air dry the grapes first. So then we're evaporating 30% or 40% of the water, so they're just the concentration factors.
Kind of Amarone?
Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. But we can't use that though. It's a trademark.
Oh, okay.
Yes. It's not like a GI or a protected, it's a trademark owned by the Italian government or the DOCG or something.
I found that out pretty quick. So, did you try and put that Amarone in cans?
No. [Crosstalk 01:07:25]. I learned that was not allowed as well. So what we do now with it is, because we're dealing with such immense amounts of tendons and it can be, again, quite aggressive so everything's open pot and plunge just to try and extract what… That's across all our red, sorry. And then we hold the wine on air dried skins locked up for 100 days and you see… Because I think extended maceration really only takes about 40, but what you see is this gigantic amount of tendon all-star to combined up into a smoother tendon by the end of it.
But because we've air dried it, it's like a monster amount of smooth tendons. So it's still quite a big one. But what we find with the air drying is it goes through a carbonic maceration first, so it starts with trapping a lot of fruit flavors and then we're just fruit crushing. It's all a whole bunch. It's pretty crispy by that point. And then so we're trapping this fruit flavor and getting this real intensity, because we've dried all that out, and then the tendons… So you can drink it now. But I'm thinking it's still going to go for 50 years.
But the tendons, they're all long chain so there's none of that taught tonic water stuff. It's all that sort of 14, 15 chain long stuff. Yeah, just because it wasn't crazy enough we thought we'd do 100 days.
Yeah, so going back to Best Ian.
Oh yeah, yeah. So, what Best Ian does is every 10th vine he's planting a different variety and it's to reduce disease pressure. So if you had the same variety and disease comes on, it's like a blancet. But if you've got a couple of-
Like buffers.
-vines that are buffers that are either at different stages, either thicker skin or earlier ripening or later ripening, it's like just hitting a wall. It slows it down or constrains it to a certain part of the vineyard.
At least until you can get in there and sort it.
Yeah. Rather than that 24 or 48 hour wipe you out kind of thing.
So what's the 10th variety you're putting with your pinot blanc?
[inaudible 01:09:41] maybe.
I see you've thought all these through.
I don't know, maybe Pinoir, maybe some [inaudible 01:09:50]. I don't know. But then I thought maybe should I do Trousseau.
Well, the sky is the limit.
It's a funny thing right now. I'm not doing Geme, although I love the variety.
We're drinking it right now, aren't we?
Yeah. And Adelaide Hills is really jumping on it. I think that the climate is perfect here to do it. As you know wine regions always do, they always find what's the next thing and then they want to… They just listen less now. I'm being too harsh by saying that. But it was almost a broad acre farming approach, like what is new? Let's all do that.
And as you've seen just from driving around here, I think the beauty and what's going to make the Adelaide Hills a place to remember is the diversity not the single variety.
Because it's such a diverse environment, climate. It's such a long wine region. It goes all the way down to McLaren Vale and then finishes Eden Valley.
Yeah, and [inaudible 01:11:00]. Of course a lots of different heights and [crosstalk 01:11:03] altitudes, little pockets. And with climate change, whether Trump thinks it's real or not, I feel it's very much fucking real.
How do you see that? Do you see it as Walmart in what you're trying to pick? I asked that because the way that I see changes like in [inaudible 01:11:25] from 20 something years is that we're getting more extreme events.
Extreme is what it is.
Yeah. Whether it's more cyclones moving down South and getting more rain where we are and out of seasonal stuff. Or we've got a frost this year. We're 4Ks from the ocean. We've got a frost in the last week of November, so the week before summer. And frosts in growing season in [inaudible 01:11:52] was a very rare, and to get it then. It's crazy.
Yeah. We can get them here light spring, but it's going to always be a worry. But more of the sorts we're dealing up here with are pretty steep now so that seems to be less of a problem.
But, I agree. It's more the extremes so, therefore, do we need to have vineyards with varieties that are more flexible, more adaptable? There's also another theory about why we have the main varieties we do. It's that because the French government was in cahoots with the herbicide insecticide companies, so a lot of the varieties they planted were dependent upon herbicide insecticide.
No, in France.
Oh, right. Is this Best Ian talking to you? He sounds like a conspiracy theorist.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The noble varieties are all very… Disease pressure is high in them. And some of these other varieties like… what is it called? Lambrusco?
Really? Is that tough.
No, not Lambrusco. Lambrusco is kind of like the [inaudible 01:13:20]. They were told that those varieties produced too much methanol, so they were poisonous to drink. that's why those varieties disappeared.
There you go. Maybe you should be planting some fetus Lambrusco.
Fuck. It's a lot of shit.
That's a great one.
And it's a bit like why there's no Geme and Burgundy.
What's [inaudible 01:13:50]?
Whoever was.
More Geme?
Was it a King? I don't know. What was it King of Burgundy or…?
Yeah, I'm not sure.
Whatever he said. It was a peasant's grape and banned it from burgundy, so that's why it's hard to find Geme. And in saying that, in Fordaine I did a collaboration with Andrew Nielsen, an English Australian guy who's a burgundy producer, and we got two ton of 90 year old [inaudible 01:14:24] Geme from [inaudible 01:14:27].
But you had to pay that, cash behind the pub in a paper bag.
Aha. It was funny actually. I saw Andrew root stock and said, “Can we do it?” He was like, “Yes.” So I'm like, “ Great idea,” whatever number of drinks we had had. And then I just applied a bit of pressure and followed it through. And it was going to be too hard and too unpredictable to do Pinoir and this Geme came up. So I was like, “Wow, cool. I kind of like that variety. Let's go for it.”
So you have made it?
Yeah, I did it in Fordaine. And what we did was… So I helped Andrew, we fermented it on skins for a month, pressed it off and shipped it to Australia and matured it in my barrels here and bottled it here and then released it. And because the nature of the industry, there's so much history and so much reading, so we've all read about it. We've all drunk the wines, but we never experienced making wine there. And multiple vintages here I was like, “Well, what's it like to actually make one in burgundy?” I wanted to kind of understand the politics, the chemistry, the climate, the people, how you went about it. And I think that was the only way to do it.
And I feel better for doing it. I want to do a few more of these projects.
Yep. Where is next?
Fuck, I don't know. Maybe the back in this.
That was you, somewhere around there.
Yeah, maybe. Yeah, I thought about that too. A lot of game area in there too. Yeah. But then I thought maybe Biola, I'd like to make new Biola and in their late Hills I think.
And the idea has been a fight there again but bring it back as [crosstalk 01:16:21] matured here.
So because I was paranoid. I shipped it door to door at 13 degrees. That cost more than the fruit. So it was definitely a passion project rather than any money tree Valley whatsoever.
And how did it turn out?
It was great. It was awesome.
It's pretty fine. Pretty lean, yeah, but I think it's held together. Like I drank a bottle just recently and it looks really cool.
Yeah. Just, I don't know how we end up doing these things we do, they do-
Yeah, sort of get caught into some sort of new projects. Keeps it interesting. Oh, that's cool. Right. So nah, subpoena blocked vineyard. Can you get those cuttings here?
Yeah. Yeah. I think we can. I haven't looked at clone and material or what the quality of it is, but then I'm like fuck, “I love poo side, but I should do it poo side.” Because I'm on that a little bit of that as training at the moment.
Oh nice. I can sell you some cheap Albariño which is really seven years, you'd like.
Yeah. Yeah. It's funny. I like him. It's only this year that I really understood the one I'd be making. I've done it on skins since 2013 Savignin, because it's a thick skin variety and I think if you direct press, it would be pretty an uninteresting wine.
Sure. Makes sense.
[inaudible 01:17:51] kind of generic kind of white wine. But what I also learned, and it was only looking at the 17 to 18 release, if it had been Albariño, ‘17 would have been a great outreach.
Yeah. Right.
And 18 now look to me looks more Savignin as we know it, as place of reference bean of Europe. And they're slightly out of headache, oxidized. And again, to say that that's a weird statement because it's oxidative wine-making, not oxidized wine. That kind of makes sense.
Do you have a floor on-
No, no. We released our second vintage of floor as its own separate wine, but 18 Savignin as it is there's no floor on it. We keep that topped.
Yep. Cool.
But again, I think me thinking I want to preserve it, look after it. So using their kind of phenolic weight from skin contact is helping to protect it.
Yeah. Yep. The antioxidants.
Yeah. Yeah. And in a weird kind of way, but yeah, I think Savignin is pretty cool. I think it's a shame. It was a knee jerk reaction that it was ripped out. I think Australia could have started to understand Savignin as a variety sooner rather than later if people are pursued. But again, was Albariño a larger market variety that appealed to more people kind of thing.
Yeah. I wonder that too. And like from a marketing perspective, there was a big rise of Tempranillo to a certain extent to Reagan National, and then there was not many Watts to go with it. So maybe that was the little pigeon pair that went with it. You can go, “Oh, here's my Tempranillo. It's my Spanish wine and my Spanish [crosstalk 01:20:04].”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd never thought of that. I find most Australian Tempranillo looks very Australian. That real kind of punchy fruit that's not shy and we can't shy away from either.
Sure. Too much sunshine.
Yes, exactly. And I think that's always a good conversation about why you pick your grapes and when you put your grapes.
Yeah, that's true. That's what I'm learning now. We've put some Sangiovese decent clones in and I do remember making a Sangiovese in a winery and there was this… back in conventional days and there's all this tan and going in with it. You're like, “Okay, are going to be building a structure.” That's what you split it says on the seller sheet that I was handed, so.
That's what it says on the back of the bag.
Yeah, yeah. You get your instructions from the winemaker and you mix it up, and you chuck it in. and then so to me, Sangiovese from trying it from these wineries was like, “Okay, sure.” It's just like a structured red with a slightly different flavor profile. But now playing with it, we're doing a little bit of what food crushing and all open pots, and obviously no ads where we are. And it's the tenants that's there's great flavors looking at one bricks or whatever, but it's the tenants and the structure, and those that makes that wine. And I'm not saying that all Tempranillo, what you're talking about is that's the reason why. But I think letting their varieties that have Rato character that can be expressed if you're not trying to hide it between underneath other things.
Yeah. I think I took an approach and I made it a few years ago, and it was like to handle it as oxidatively as I could. Just soften and lose their primary fruit, and try and make it more [inaudible 01:22:05]. Because I always think they handle things pretty oxidatively. So, yeah, I think we can do that.
Go for siesta.
Yeah. Go for siesta kind of leave it open ferment long time on skins, not plunging too much and letting that kind of outer heel build in the cap before we pressed it off, so that it would use as a softening agent. It's all fun.
Nice. Well thanks Bren. Thanks for the chat. Anything… So I guess people can find you. Not Salvador anymore but Instagram's at BK Wines?
Yeah. And we've got a new website, so-
Have you?
No, [inaudible 01:22:44].
New skateboard decks too.
Sell some shit.
Yeah, do it.
New skateboard decks.
For all the seven people that end up downloading this year. It doesn't matter that, man.
It's okay.
It's just good to sit down and chat. I don't get to see anyone as like we used to.
I know and it's always good to drink a bottle of foyer.
Yeah, thanks for that. Awesome. Thanks dude. Cheers. Well, I hope you enjoyed that episode with BK of BK Wines. Please head to the website, where you'll find show notes and links to what we spoke about. I hope everyone has a great Christmas. There should be another episode dropping just before the New Year and we'll be speaking to you soon. Cheers. Bye.

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