Saturday, February 12, 2011

Knock, knock, knocking on Heaven’s Door – Part 2

This blog post was originally written for, and published on "Barossa Dirt - True tales and twisted vines" in February 2011.

From left: James Linke, Andrew Graham, Bob McLean, Colin Sheppard, Chris Ringland.

During the past few months, we have had the pleasure of the company of some wonderful visitors to our home. It’s so much fun to sit at the kitchen table in our old cottage, sharing fine wines and food, and getting to know each other face to face as opposed to electronic or phone conversations.

Each of these people has their own special reason for arriving on our doorstep, or indeed, in our neighbourhood, and it’s their own diverse reasons that will create my next few Barossa Dirt posts. The four subjects are all very interesting people – two are in the wine business in the USA, the other two are from Sydney – one involved with the wine business and the other with journalism.

My second interview is with Andrew Graham, who is a Sydney-based wine-writer ( and an enthusiastic and passionate wine-lover.

ML – What was the initial reason for your first ever trip, or contact, with the Barossa, and what year was it?

AG – Interestingly enough my first ever ‘serious’ wine was a Barossa Shiraz – it was the year 2000, and up until then I’d really just been a beer and spirit drinker. Wine had always been around my house, and cask wine had been a friend on more than one occasion, but I’d never really taken wine seriously. This wine was different though. It had the most luscious silky texture that I really loved. That wine was a 1998 St Hallett Faith Shiraz, and looking back I can understand exactly why I would have liked it – lots of flavour, lots of simple Barossan goodness.

ML – Which Barossan personalities have made a lasting impression on you?

AG – Charlie Melton is one person who first made an impression on me, with his sometimes laconic but always honest personality – and excellent moustache – epitomising of what I imagined great Australian winemakers to be. I like his wines, too. Bob McLean is another ‘larger than life’ character whom I very much respect due to his almost unrivalled knowledge of the area.

ML – What are some other interesting places you have been to in your travels, and/or which interesting people have you met elsewhere in the world?

AG – That’s an interesting question! Perhaps the best way to answer this would be to talk about the more interesting winemakers I have met, such as some Indian vignerons whom are working on one of the larger Indian vineyards. Their enthusiasm was unbridled, happily admitting that whilst their wines were still not quite there yet, that India would eventually become renown for it’s wines.

ML – Compared to some of these places, what makes the Barossa an appealing place to visit?

AG – One of the appealing things about the Barossa is simply how unlike most other Australian wine regions it seems to be. I’m sure it’s a cultural thing, driven by the old German heritage, but grape-growing and winemaking seems to carry even more significance in the Barossa, more respect even.

ML – What are your favourite Barossan places to visit and why?

AG – That’s an easy one. Flaxmans Valley is the most attractive part of the Barossa. It’s the extra lushness and greenery, that comes courtesy of Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park in part, that makes it feel that much more natural and peaceful. It’s colder though, which I’m no fan of as I’m a warm blooded Sydney man who doesn’t deal well with cold!

ML – Do you have any favourite Barossa foods or wines?

AG – Did someone say Linke’s bacon? Barossan smallgoods are the picks in the food department. Eden Valley Riesling is not the ideal smoked meats match, but it does refresh…

It was a pleasure having Andrew visit, and we look forward to his next trip to the Barossa. My next post will feature a very interesting couple from the United States. Stay tuned.

Cheers for now,

Marie Linke

Tiny URL for this post:

No comments: