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Here is a copy of our last release letter.
Another year has gone by …..and then some!
Emma and I are still making changes. Some changes we have a little more say in, others a little less.
This year we have made the decision to release our wines well before the Spring. A few years experience has taught us how important it is to be in our vineyard at that time of year. It seemed logical to change, plus the idea of sending our wine around the country during the cooler months definitely appeals to us. A string of low yielding vintages has been added to. Previously we spoke about 2019 and 2020 being extremely low yielding. For us, 2022 and 2023 can be added to that. In 2022 it was due to a freak hailstorm, cutting a line from west to east across the Barossa and Eden valleys – unfortunately, our little block was in the path of that storm. Leading into 2023 an unusually late budburst was followed by difficult weather around flowering, resulting in fewer bunches. Further cool moist weather, in the run up to the harvest made it difficult for those bunches to ripen. My father gave me some very good advice a long time ago – “wine is agriculture, in agriculture it is best to create a business able to navigate a zero income year”. This has stuck with me and as a consequence we always try to make decisions that add to our resilience. This resilience allows us to continue exploring the edges of what is possible with our endeavour. This tricky period has helped us respect how lucky we were to have such a good start to Ruggabellus! We remain very grateful for that!
We are heading into winter here in the Eden valley. We have had good early rains. The soil ecology is happy with new growth and good amounts of carbon (in the form of last year’s dried grasses). We continue working to promote a diversity of plants within our blocks. Our children keep us relatively young. Their growth relentlessly hits new stages and Emma and I encourage each other to remain present! Our creative livelihood has taught us that good things happen when a little youthful vitality is added to experience. Similarly, good things happen when a little experience contributes to the energetic nature of youth. I officially reached the ‘middle ages’ last year, turning 50 in August – a good time to reflect. We’ve come a long way. The vision is still much the same – to make small amounts of thoughtful, age worthy wine – to be enjoyed in their youth with friends at a dinner table, and as they age, evoke a sort of sense of wonder for those who have made the effort to cellar them.
We are very proud of this release. They are quite a powerful group. We have worked hard to make them. For example, the 2019 Quomodo – early on it didn’t look like it would get there. It simply lacked the balance we seek. I grappled with the reds from 2019 also. If you recall, we only released an Efferus in that year with the seriously dry Spring – thankfully the Mataro enjoyed those conditions. Many hours of thought and blending trials has resulted in us using a little bit of our ‘special aged’ home block Riesling in this Quomodo blend. Since 2012 we have been carefully building a reserve of long aged Riesling as a base to draw upon for a sparkling wine (yet to be released). This small addition (from the same vineyard – about 11%) has lifted the 2019 Quomodo into a zone that we are extremely proud of. As with Solumodo, Efferus, Timaeus and Archaeus, our hope is to capture layers, length and balance. Each of these vineyards has great character. We are committed to understanding this character as best we can and expressing it in a way that will stand the test of time. Considered extraction is followed by thoughtful elevage and if we are in sync with the season, we have an opportunity to build layers, length and balance in these very special (to us) wines.
This release has the following single vineyard wines from home;
2019 Quomodo, single vineyard Flaxman Riesling, 310 bottles made, 0.33Ha, $75 bottle
2021 Archaeus, single vineyard Flaxman Syrah, 520 bottles made, 0.47Ha, $75 bottle
And from two great little old Grenache bush vine blocks on the Barossa valley floor;
2022 Timaeus, Altona & Rowland flat, Grenache, 670 bottles made, 0.33Ha, $75 bottle
This year sees the return of Fluus, albeit not quite as it used to be. With the reality of low yielding harvests sinking in, our good friend Dave offered us the opportunity to purchase some small parcels of Syrah and Gamay from the Adelaide hills. We gave it a go. I’m glad we did. It was a real treat to guide some Gamay grapes into wine (it is one of our favourite varieties to drink here at home). The decision to go with a multiple vintage wine for Sallio and Fluus was something I have fought off for a while. After these low yielding years, it just made too much sense. The flexibility to select carefully from a wider range of barrels will help us improve both of these wines and give us the best chance of releasing them year after year.
The Fluus is a blend of 71% barrels from 2021 and 29% from 2022. It is a blend of Adelaide hills Syrah 43%, Barossa Grenache 22%, Barossa Cinsault 18% and Adelaide hills Gamay 17%. It’s important to us that the Fluus is aromatic, succulent and a food friendly red. The inclusion of Syrah and Gamay from the hills (for this release only) has helped us achieve that.
This year the Sallio is a blend of Riesling 52%, Muscat (field blend) 40% and Semillon 8%, all of these from beautifully old vines, the oldest believed to have been planted in the 1850’s. This Sallio comprises three vintages, 46% barrels from 2019, 30% from 2021 and 24% from 2022. The Muscat portion is higher this year and it shows. In a similar fashion to Fluus, we choose to use wine making techniques that showcase aromatics and succulence. The Sallio continues to be “….a wonderful introduction to the textural style of white wine that we make”.
We have all of our fingers crossed for a reasonable growing season ahead of the 2024 harvest! We haven’t made much wine for a few years now and that will show in the next few releases! We are trying to offer these limited wines to as many people on our mailing list as possible whilst respecting those who have been buying from us the longest. This is not easy and we have worked hard to give as many people as we can the opportunity to purchase at least one bottle of Timaeus or Archaeus, but there isn’t much Quomodo so that will go quickly. Please reply promptly to give us the best chance of fulfilling your order. Once it is received we will generate an invoice and email it to you. Payment of this invoice will secure your wines. You will be notified with a tracking number when they are sent – this may take a week or so as we are very busy during this time. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send us a message, we’ll do our best to reply as quickly as we can.
Wishing you all the best
Abel, Emma, Bailin & Rouille