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The E&E Black Pepper Shiraz Is Born

Stuart Bourne is getting his first glimpse of the 2009 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz.
2009 Southern Harvest Winemakers
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Posted: Mar 30, 2009 2:10pm ET

By Stuart Bourne

Posted by Stuart Bourne

Week 8 down of 2009 vintage at Barossa Valley Estate, and probably only a couple more weeks of picking to see it out to the end. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually not a freight train, but the rapidly approaching date at which the crusher will be closed down, stripped bare, scrubbed with a toothbrush, and put into dust covers for another year! And what do we have to report on, from this magic part of the world we call the Barossa Valley? Easy—wait until you see the picture of our fermented wines.

I went through these samples on Tuesday on the tasting bench, after all the morning pump-over jobs had been finished. The colours of some of these samples contain within them the pure purple pride and purpose for what Barossa Valley Shiraz stands for. The measuring cylinder in the foreground is of somewhat even greater importance to me this week—I think you are getting your first glance of what could go on to become a major part of the 2009 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz. Obviously, given we age in barrel for a minimum of 18 months, then bottle age for two years prior to release, this little beauty is still four years away from a commercial release, but one day when you taste it, you can say that you remember seeing baby photos of it, and didn’t it look cute as a kid! Haha.

This particular vineyard holds a special place in my heart, not that all of the other vineyards and varieties I work with have no place in the heart, but because it has such a history of making top-grade Shiraz, year after year. Vivid purple and black in color, heady and lifted aromas of black and red fruits, mouth-watering acidity and the tannin structure of a wrestler in a gold-sequined frock (bad analogy of masculine and feminine simultaneously, but hopefully conjures up mental pictures, perhaps the iron fist in the velvet glove works better …), long, long fruit flavors that linger for a half a minute in the mouth, with a big dollop of spice and pepper. Now all it needs is time in some beautiful French and American oak barrels, a light fine and filter, and some bottle age and we are good to go! Now really, who’s got the best job in the world?

The BVE E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, in infancy.
The rest of the ferments continue to behave nicely. Yeast is ticking along in its age-old conversion of sugar to alcohol, colors are vibrant, and given the minor heat wave we had just before harvest commenced, we have come off very well and are buoyed up by what we see. We also make a small amount of wine for a couple of other wine producers, some of which have fruit in cooler regions than the Barossa Valley, so next week should see the last of the Barossa fruit picked, but we will still be crushing for a little while after this, as we take in the fruit from these other producers and make some wine for them.

Chris Hahn keeps the BVE finances in order.
But where are the next photos of the crew to introduce to you, I hear you all cyber scream? Well, glad you asked: The next photo to look at is of Chris Hahn, BVE’s general manager. Chris brought a massive wealth of experience to us when she joined BVE, having been in senior roles in the financial world for a wide variety of businesses of varying sizes and from different industries. Chris and her husband, John, are also Barossa Valley vignerons, so she has a very good understanding of all of the processes involved in the wine business, from grapegrowing and winemaking to marketing and sales and the financial and personnel management required by our business. We have come a long way, very positively, with Chris at the helm, and as the world may struggle with the global financial crisis, Chris will help to drive us all into a brighter future than many others may have.

Tom "Fothers" Fotheringham hard at work at BVE's Cellar Door.
The next photo is of Tom Fotheringham, our Cellar Door venue manager. "Fothers," as we call him, runs the Cellar Door facility, providing our customers that come to try our wines with the hospitality one would expect from such a high-class region and producer. Currently, our Cellar Door team not only provide wine tastings and education, but also are putting on wedding receptions and other large functions. Last year, when we were a little short on the ground for staffing during vintage, we dressed Fothers in a new pair of steel-capped boots and made him run around with us pumping reds over. Not just a pretty face, but a multiskilled man of many talents.

Next installment not far away, as will be the end of vintage, but I’ll check in again later during the week with an update. Until then, and as always, be safe, enjoy cold beer with great friends and family, count your blessings both small and large, and only drink good wine.


Stuey B and all the crew at BVE

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