Archie Rose is preparing to release Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit, an eau de vie distilled from salvaged smoke tainted grapes.
The spirit is the first product in a three-part series to support the Hunter Valley wine community following the devastating 2019/2020 bushfires.
The eau de vie is Archie Rose’s first experimentation with wine made from 50 plus tonnes of smoke-tainted Hunter Valley 2020 shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes, with the majority of spirit to be aged for release as a brandy in coming years.
The initiative was conceived to assist growers who suffered significant crop and income write-off as a result of bushfire smoke taint. It includes the support of fourth generation Tulloch Wines along with winemakers First Creek Wines, who worked with the Archie Rose team to identify eight smaller growers in the Pokolbin, Broke Fordwich and Upper Hunter sub-regions of the Hunter Valley who needed support.
Will Edwards, Archie Rose Founder, said: “While watching the January bushfires this year we immediately began looking at how we could help growers only two hours up the road with the eventual result a series of brandy related spirits.
“As eau de vie is a spirit very few people have tried, we’re really excited to share this Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit and looking forward to seeing how the smoke taint eventually plays into a brandy, currently laid down in casks to age for a minimum of two years.”
Liz Silkman, chief winemaker at First Creek Wines, coordinated the winemaking process at the Pokolbin winery, before delivery to Archie Rose for experimentation.
“We’ve really enjoyed working with Liz and the First Creek winemaking team on the winemaking process,” said senior distiller Trynt Xavier, “and we were really happy with how the wine turned out thanks to their efforts building the fermentation profile. They considered things like using a type of yeast that would accentuate the fruitiness of the wine, decreasing alcohol, and getting it off skins quite early to avoid too much smoke taint seeping in.”
The spirit has notes of shortbread, icing sugar and vine leaves and then with air yielding pineapple, guava, honeydew and old campfire. On the palate, it shows a round and oily texture with mango, raspberry jam and wafers. It resolves with a grassy and saline persistence that echoes the balanced fruit and savoury elements.
“It’s unusual at first in taste, but excellent with the simple addition of fresh-pressed apple juice or even Coca-Cola and freshly squeezed lime juice, in our twist on a Batanga,” said Archie Rose Head of Hospitality, Harriet Leigh.
“We’ve also used the youthful eau de vie with vibrant, zingy flavours, in a version of a Paloma – The Pokolbin – the eau de vie effortlessly replacing tequila in the knock-out grapefruit highball.”
There will be 1000 bottles of Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit on sale from May 25 via takeaway at the Archie Rose Bar in Rosebery, Sydney along with the www.archierose.com.au and bottle shops. RRP: $99