Recently a few of my fellow wine blogger friends around the world have been writing about biodynamic wine (see links at the bottom of this post). After reading some of their posts it got me thinking about biodynamic wine in Australia and what the TC readership thinks about it.
If you follow the TC social channels then you may have seen me sparking up conversations on the topic. It’s a topic that people have positive and negative opinions about. Continue reading →
It’s not often I indulge in fortified wine, however, it’s safe to say this Freehand Natural Wine 2017 ‘Ruby Ruby’ Shiraz fortified went down a treat! Naomi picked it up at the BeauVine wine festival in Perth to enjoy while we were in Sydney.
Organic wines are becoming more and more popular by the day. In the wine aisles of our local bottle shops we are now seeing the terms; organic, biodynamic, preservative free and natural wine floating around. But what do they mean?
Here are some simple definitions to get you started:
Organic wine: Means the wine is made by the principle of organic farming, which typically means the exclusion of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and artificial chemical fertilizers.
Biodynamic wine: Biodynamic farming treats the vineyard as a living system. It’s the ideal of ever-increasing ecological self-sufficiency and ethical-spiritual considerations. Think soil fertility, healthy plant growth and working with the rhythms of the cosmos.
Preservative free wine: Preservative free wine, means that no preservatives were added during the winemaking process. However the term doesn’t really acknowledge that during the winemaking process sulphur dioxide is released which is a natural preservative. So we really should say ‘No preservatives added’ – for more information, check out my preservative free wine guide
Natural wine: This has different meanings to everyone and I’ll be getting an experts opinion below….
Recently I was gifted 2 bottles of Freehand Wines from Western Australia’s Great Southern region. Matt Eastwell is a young innovative winemaker who has created preservative free wine from biodynamic grapes out of their small, family-owned boutique winery.
As Matt coins it, his wines under the label “Freehand Wines” are classed as ‘natural wines’. I really wanted to find out from Matt, what his definition of natural wines is, here is what he said..
“The definition of Natural Wine is a contentious issue. My personal definition of Natural wine is 100% biodynamic/organic grapes ideally grown by the vigneron/winemaker, made using zero additions of sulfites in the winery”.
There are 4 different wines in the Freehand range which includes 1 white, a Semillon and 3 reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a Shiraz. There are various vintages available at the moment, even a Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to 2002. You can check them out on the Freehand Wines website.
Matt was a lead guitarist in original Perth bands when he decided to combine his love of creativity with his passion for drinking wine. in 2000 his wine journey began when he enrolled in a Winemaking & Grapegrowing Bachelors Degree course at Curtin University in the Margaret River Wine Region.
After finishing his degree he went halves with his parents in a small vineyard with great promise in the Great Southern region of WA. The idea was to grow the grapes, sell them off until a point where the Eastwell’s could start-up a winery of their own. However push came to shove and the unpredictability of grape contracts lead the family to start-up the winery sooner than they had planned. Eastwell Estate was born.
The winery slowly made their way towards becoming a biodynamic grower to making their wine with the addition of zero sulfites a process Matt picked up from a good friend who owns a small winery in the Porongorups.
Soon enough Matt become a natural wine convert and even now he finds it hard to drink wine which has had sulphite additions. I love this quote from Matt, “the purity of what we can make with exceptional organic/biodynamic grown fruit, and minimal intervention and maximum attention in the winery constantly amazes me”.
They’re young, innovative and are producing some great wines. Here are my tasting notes for the Freehand Wines I’ve tasted:
Freehand 2013 Semillon
It’s such a pretty colour this one, it’s a tangerine golden colour on the eye. On the nose I picked up whiffs of mandarins, peaches, white chocolate and an undertone of wet stones and some baking spice. It busts onto the palate with flavours of a tropical fruit salad, think lychee, dragon fruit and ripe peach. There’s a lot of flavour upfront and then it dies fairly quickly but leaves an itch in the back of your throat which leaves you salivating for the next mouthful.
Freehand 2011 Merlot
On the eye the colour of this drop is virtually opaque, it’s a deep red burgundy velvet colour. On the nose I picked up aromas of tar, black jelly beans and dark stewed plums. In the mouth it is juicy, delicious and well-balanced with a bitter dark chocolate finish. Such a full-bodied goddess of a Merlot this is. I need to get some more asap!
I’m your steak sandwich and fries kinda girl, I basically love everything that is bad for me. It’s not a talent I’m proud of but it does keep me happy at times!
I was on my way for a massage at the Brookleigh Health Spa (awesome deal by the way, they were having a 50% off all treatments, so keep an eye on their Facebook page here) however I was a little early so I thought I’d grab a bite to eat. I’d heard about the Swan Valley Cafe but I have to admit despite enjoying their fabulous foodie pictures on their Facebook page I didn’t feel their vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free cafe would be for me since I don’t really fall into one of those categories.
Since it’s just down the road from Brookleigh on the Great Northern Highway, I thought why not thinking I could grab a super healthy green juice and a bite to eat before my massage. The cafe is nothing fancy, but it is cozy and the brown and green colour scheme make it feel very ‘natural’. The outside setting is very pretty with the big wooden rustic tables however if you are drinking alcohol only the tables directly outside are under the license (you’ll see little signs on the tables were you can’t enjoy your wee tipple).
I couldn’t believe it when I opened the menu (aca-believe it!! Pitch Perfect movie reference for ya there!) and saw a wine list. I shouldn’t have been so surprised however I guess I just associate healthy eating with no alcohol (hence why I’m so bad at it!).
What I really enjoyed about the page long wine menu at the Swan Valley Cafe is that all the wines were obviously carefully hand-picked for the cafe. At the top of the wine list was a key to help denote what wines were biodynamic, organic, vegan-friendly and which ones were made locally.
The list consisted of sparkling wines, white, rosé, red and non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice from Canada. Harris Organic Wines and Talijancich Wines dominate the list. However there are a few extra interesting ones in there such as a few of the organic and preservative free Wild Fox range from Adelaide. Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is also included as well as the Yelland & Papps Vermentino. The Battle of Bosworth Shiraz from McLaren Vale is also on there. Check out my guide on preservative free wines for more information.
Not all the wines are available by the glass, some are bottles only. Glass prices start from about $8.50 and most of the bottle prices are around the $35 mark. There is also a vegan friendly pear cider and vegan friendly beers on offer. Who knew Corona was vegan friendly!!
The cafe is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Breakfast is served up until 11am, check out the menu here (doesn’t it look divine!). And lunch is served from 11:30am – 3:30pm. Alongside the standard menu there are the daily lunch, cake and drink specials. I also must mention they are tea specialists, so if you like the odd cuppa or two you should definitely check out the range they have on offer.
Naturally I opted for a glass of wine over a pot of tea, so I decided to go for the Talijancich Ebony 2011 Rose from the Swan Valley for $8.50 per glass.
On this visit I went for the raw pasta with veggie spirals & nut balls. This raw, vegan and gluten-free dish was $20.50. It was a huge portion, presented beautifully and afterwards I have to admit I felt a lot better than after finishing a bucket of KFC chicken! However I saw a few of the panini’s and dhal’s going out which looked soooo good and probably more up my alley. Looks like it’s not just the wine list that’ll have me going back for more. Ohh and the cakes… I want to go back and make friends with that cake fridge!
The cafe also offers personalised high teas as well as having a takeaway menu and products to buy to take home such as crunchy granola, gluten-free bread, chia seeds, quinoa and more! Not only do they cater for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free and raw diets but they can also specially cater for any other dietary requirements you may have, just let the staff know when you book!