As stated elsewhere, all our vines are hand-pruned and hand-picked by human beings and Stephen. This is an expensive and painstaking business requiring quite a lot of knowledge of each vineyard, (indeed each vine in the case of annual pruning) and a sound idea of the style of wine we are attempting to make in the winery. We want the wine to express the Bloodwood style, the vineyard, the environment and the variety within the limitations and vagaries of each season as it evolves. When we open a bottle, of, say Bloodwood Cabernet Sauvignon, we want that bottle to remind us the evolution of the wine and the year from which it was produced.
Bloodwood wines are made entirely from grapes grown on our Griffin Road Vineyards, Orange. Although each vintage in this cool area presents its own natural challenges our aim is to produce wines which are of a consistently high quality and which are identifiably Bloodwood in style. During the processing and maturation of each wine, every effort is made to ensure that the innate regional characteristics of the fruit are protected. To this end, sulfur additions are kept to a necessary minimum and great care is taken to protect each wine from unnecessary oxidation and handling during its sometimes Slow maturation.
The Bloodwood Maurice appears from time to time to confuse the wine drinking public, and have to say, delight those in the know within the industry. The Maurice represents the best half dozen or so barrels from the vintage concerned. It may be a single variety as with the stunning 1998 Merlot Noir, or a blend of several varieties. Currently it seems to be a Cabernet base with a little Shiraz and Cabernet Franc or Merlot sneaking through. As a winemaker you top-up and taste barrels throughout the year, and you get to know some of the better ones on an on-going and quite personal basis. If they make up a parcel of wine which holds together with continuing interest, then we will release them as Bloodwood Maurice. So in effect, I travel around my world (the cellar at 231 Griffin Road, Orange) and select the best barrels for this wine..quite like that under-sung giant of the Australian wine industry Maurice O'Shea. The story was in the Hunter and wider afield that if Maurice had been through a winery post-vintage on a buying trip, then there wasn't much of exceptional quality left in the cellar. While that's not the case at Bloodwood, the Maurice is a wine which takes Rhonda's and my fancy from a particular vintage. And it is named with pride to honour the memory of Maurice O'Shea.
Rhonda recommends roast veal stuffed with spinach and walnuts to accompany the Maurice.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grow exceptionally well in Orange. Some would say they grow too well in this soft, cool, moist and sunny climate, particularly on the richer red mountain earths on the slopes of Mt Canobolas. Get away from these fresh, fertile young volcanic soils into the ancient mean gravelly seabed through which the volcano arose millions of years ago and it is a different picture. In effect, what's known as the Orange-Shadforth association of soils, on the northern sheltered edge of the basalt plateau of the volcano provide near ideal environments for the production of high quality Cabernet, provided the vigneron isn't too greedy for yield. Grown at around 6 tonnes per hectare at Bloodwood, we see violets, black berries and subtle black currants in the fruit of properly ripened Cabernet Sauvignon. Add a dash of raspberry and some higher floral notes with the earlier ripening Cabernet Franc and you have the basis for some very fine Cabernet based wines. They are generally deep crimson in colour with the usual fine structured tannin backbone supporting very fine classic ripe red fruit aromatics.
Rhonda recommends two favourite matches with our Cabernet, French Beaufort cheese and roast lamb. The more mature the Cabernet the less you adorn your lamb. Youthful fruit can cope with richer spicing eg middle eastern spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, sumac ) or if you're vegetarian, similarly spiced lentils topped with a creamy fetta.
We have two small Shiraz vineyards at Bloodwood. The top vineyard at the front gate is growing in laminated siltstones while the bottom Shiraz near the exit is growing on volcanoclastics. These two vineyards produce distinct but more often than not complimentary fruit. The warmer, sheltered west facing heat trap Top Shiraz vineyard provides some very open juicy aromatic shiraz fruit at considerably lower alcohol levels than the Bottom block. The Bottom Block usually ripens a few days later than the top block, and has more high white pepper notes and some licorice in drier seasons. As a wine maker, this gives me the ability to fine, (and I mean fine) -tune our Shiraz and the flexibility to work around vintage variation in this latest of all maturing varieties at Bloodwood.
Rhonda recommends enjoying our Shiraz with fresh Parmesan (broken with a fork not cut with a knife) and a peppered steak (either European or Asian version.) I recommend a good solid chair and a silky soft pillow.
Australian Pinot Noir usually falls into three camps. There's the prissy anemic strawberry brigade with its onion skin hues and ever so delicate aromas masquerading as effete Antipodean moonshine in a bottle; then there's the much more complex, scrotal even, cherry beetroot plum crowd with its more velvety colours, more overall extract and weight on a textured forest floor toned sometimes earthy palate which delights in pH's as low as their prices are high; and then there's the dry red in a bottle with a Pinot Noir label on it. Bloodwood, just to be Bloodwood falls in between the first lot of lady-men and the blokes with 'tude in the second category..sort of aromatic cherry scrotal..if you get our drift. And with all proper Pinot Noirs, it is twice what you want to pay for it and half what it actually costs us to produce.
Rhonda recommends baked beetroot with Meredith goat's cheese creamy fetta on olive bread and of course you can't beat the standard duck breast with cherry sauce.