What is Crothers Wine?
A boutique Yarra Valley wine producer.
Wine made by a sommelier playing at being a winemaker.
I just got tired of seeing wines from amazing vineyards that were made with sensible compromises. Brilliance tempered by reason to the point where it's just another wine.
These wines are, to the best of my ability, made without those compromises.
There is an ethereal brilliance in this fruit, and all I do is let it develop.
What makes it different?
The same thing anyone would say, I suppose: a commitment to quality.
But for me, this might as well be my religion. There's something amazing in wine's ability to portray truths that words fall inadequate for.
And ability to inspire; a taste can make a difference.
As such, there's nothing ordinary being released. I'll tip it down the drain, before that happens.
Vine age is crucial.
A young vine (less than 4 years) doesn't produce much fruit, and often doesn't get used at all.
Between about 4-7 years the quantity of fruit increases to optimal levels, but quality remains sporadic.
After about 10 years vines are where wineries really want them. Quality is high and production is too.
Quality keeps improving with age, and production starts dropping to the point where at 20 years, a lot of people will start thinking about ripping them out.
Some of the best vines in the world are over a hundred years old.
I have so far been working with vines in the 15-18 year range. But
in 2016 I'm playing with some Pinot Noir from 40 year old vines; and the experience is always the same. The depth of flavour is something that you can't get any other way; before you've done anything, it's already the best wine you've ever made.
Next is crop yields.
They need to be low. Less fruit means less wine, means less money.
But the best way to describe it, is that the more fruit you have on a vine, the less concentrated the flavour is. It becomes watery, and the finer intricacies get lost along the way.
Similarly, and this is mostly down to luck, is a dry finish to the ripening season.
Rainful before picking will inflate the berries with water. This means more juice, which means more money. But quality drops.
This is a common theme: more is less.
Once we get into the winery, it's about three things. Having a gentle touch, and constantly seeking ways of being more and more gentle. Such as using gravity rather than pumps to move the wine around, and not interfering with anything the wine wants to do.
Second is backbone. The wine is going to want to do things that you can control, and maybe don't want it to do... you need to trust it. Those aren't my words, they're the words of better winemakers than me. Start with good fruit, and trust it. It's scary, and you wont sleep properly for months. Trust it.
Third, is time. Give it time. In the vineyard we want a slow ripening process (usually granted by cold nights), in the winery we want a slow ferment (for quality... for peace of mind we want it to be fast). Then, we need to let it rest for as long as it needs to.
It's not on our schedule, we're on its. Patience doesn't even come into it. This extends to not releasing wines before they're ready. That might be years.
I suppose that's it in a nutshell.