Feb 18, 2013

Balnaves, Coonawarra South Australia.

What is one to do when finding oneself in the magic kingdom of Coonawarra. Among other things, go and have a taste and a glass or three at Balnaves of Coonawarra. Better yet try to get some time with winemaker Peter Bissell. But don’t forget to taste the wares. Peter had been expecting us and upon arrival had us jump in the car and off for a whirlwind historical tour of Coonawarra. Peter’s knowledge and passion for the area was very apparent as he drove us all over the area sharing the history and explaining the unique terroir and the intricacies of each and every vineyard we passed. It was a varied tour with Peter even pointing out with pride the original railroad station, RSL hall, the local Coonawarra store and the park (with its own tribute to local wine dignitaries). Once done with the tour around the area it was back to Balnaves to check out their award winning winery and wines.

The winery started the construction process in 1995 and was operational for the 2006 vintage. To quote Balnaves on their winery “To build an expandable winery and barrel storage facility, designed to be in harmony with the surrounding Viticulture envelope through seasonal change. The winery was to complement the cellar door and had to be a striking visual element of deliberate form and colour as an enhancement to the landscape. The "bell tower" acts as a local beacon for visitors as well as offering an unprecedented panorama over the Coonawarra Vineyards. What we achieved was all of that and more, and as a result a number of awards have been won for the winery design.” 
The facility is very impressive in its use of space, with a very efficient design and the inclusion of a number of round open top fermenters.

Peter has quite a history and to make sure the facts are straight this is an excerpt from his bio “Pete was appointed Wynns winemaker in 1989 working at Wynns Coonawarra Estate with Peter Douglas until 1995. Peter did vintages as a flying winemaker for Penfolds in Russia (1993), for the Laperouse project in the South of France (1994), worked in the Coteaux de Languedoc and visited Bordeaux in 2000. Pete visited Tuscany and in particular Bolgheri in 2006. Pete joined Balnaves in 1995 to design and oversee construction of the winery and take over wine making. In 2005 Pete was named the Qantas / Gourmet traveller Winemaker of the Year.”
Coonawarra has developed an enviable reputation as a producer of premium table wines, particularly Cabernet, and Balnaves is up there with the best. Check this validation of their efforts. (http://www.balnaves.com.au/our-wines/awards/ )Then there is this small accolade. (http://www.balnaves.com.au/assets/assets/James-Halliday-Results-2013.pdf )

We purchased and took back to California a bottle of the Talley as he believes not only is it great now, but give it a few years rest and it could/should be amazing. In the meantime we are working on perfecting our Rack-O-lamb so we are ready with a worthy meal to pair it with. This brings us to an interesting thing about the Balnaves wine making philosophy. They make their wines to show complex fruit, oak and tannin aromas, rich yet fine structures, with noticeable texture as well as flavour on the finish. They do this so their wines accompany food and highlight the mouth feel qualities their wines produce. Now we love to have a drink at just about any time but great wine with great food enjoyed with great company is what makes it all, well, just magic!

Balnaves has a great selection of wines with more diversity than we have discussed. So do yourself a huge favor and go on by and check their wines in their very comfortable cellar door, we give it a Recommend’. Say high to Peter from WineWalkabout and enjoy a wine tasting like few others.

Happy Tasting Adventures,
Kiwi & Koala

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