How different?

A wine afficionado and journalist wrote back to me after seeing our homepage and asked in what way arakoon wines taste different from other South Australian wines (as stated in the winemaking philosophy section)? It depends on what you expect. McLaren Vale in particular is now famous for big and fruity wines that are influenced by new american oak. Not all wines are that way of course, but, it could be argued that this is somewhat of a South Australian style. As I wrote in the winemaking section, I think it comes down to our consistent employment of post-ferment maceration and choice of oak. Blending also plays a role. The only way to really find out for yourself is not only to read, but to try it out in practice!

We did it our style

Like Frank Sinatra, we like things our way! From our current red wine product range we can group our wines into a big and a light or elegant group. The big group contains the 1999 Big, fat & gutsy (BFG), the 2000 Sellicks Beach and the 2000 Doyen. The remainder are more on the lighter side, although the 2000 reserve Shiraz sit’s somewhere in the middle.

Our Sellicks Beach/BFG blend is based on little new wood and wines that have a porty, jammy element in them, whilst our reserve Shiraz and the doyen are more stamped by subtle new French oak and varietal aromas. The Lighthouse/DBB blend is our attempt at producing an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend modeled after the likes of Dom. du Trevallon in Provence.

Notably, wines change after bottling, and our “predicted” wine styles don’t always fall in place. For example, the BFG turned out to be quite elegant rather than rough and gutsy, whilst the 2000 Lighthouse is a touch too soft on the palate to be elegantly restrained. Nevertheless, if you taste our entire range, you should be able to appreciate clear differences in wine styles. If two blends appear very similar, we have failed! To learn, though, one must sometimes falter, and we are still learning!
Single still?

Our single vineyard wines, the doyen and Pinot Black, are worthy of mention. Pinot noir often yields a wine of a unique style on it’s own, dictated very much by the grape variety. What differs between the Sellicks Beach and the doyen if both are big? The doyen simply stood out in the crowd due to it’s flavour and structural intensity. If something else outstanding comes our way in the future, we won’t be afraid of once again departing from our style blending philosophy!

Bottling and Blending

During vintage we produce a large range of different wine batches that differ in grape variety, geographical origin and winemaking treatments. We even harvest some vineyards at two ripeness-levels! The different batches are kept separate all the way until blending. For being such a tiny winery we end up with a substantial number of different batches, varying between 10-20 so far depending on vintage!

Subsequently we group all batches according to their wine style, or potential influence on wine style in a blend. Not only structure, but also flavour styles are considered.

In essence, we wish to bottle wine styles, as opposed to grape varieties and origin. However, we acknowledge both grape varieties and origin on all our blends.

Style or Trend?

What is wine style, what are our wine styles and how does this relate to the blends that we bottle?

How does one define wine style? Wines differ from each other in many subtle ways. Most red wines contain roughly 85% water, 12 to 15% ethanol, a few inorganic substances and a myriad of carbon-containing compounds including acids and phenolics. In addition to ethanol, it is the small components that make all the difference in determining wine style!

We can break down wine style into palate structure (influenced by ethanol, acids and phenolic compounds), flavour quality and flavour quantity. The interaction between these components affects the overall “balance” of a wine. In a more consumer-friendly nomenclature, we can define wines as big or light, elegant and rough, intensive vs. anonymous, etc..

Structurally speaking, big red wines generally have alot of alcohol (ethanol predominantly), prominent tannins (phenolics) and intense flavour. At the other end of the scale, elegance, is often associated with the opposite, low alcohol, higher acid levels and subtle, balanced flavours.
Wine can also have different flavour styles, for example, the Barossa is famous for it’s porty and jammy Shirazes, whilst some “cool” climate Shirazes from Victoria are known for their white pepper aroma!