It’s almost impossible to not get excited when you’re uncovering a new Yarra Valley winery. After all, this is undeniably one of Australia’s finest wine regions, and home to many of our all-time favourite producers. Blackwood Hill is no exception - the small-scale, homely and down-to-earth way the vintners of this winery go about their business means their wines pack in everything we love about this part of the country.
There’s been plenty of noise made about ‘natural’ wineries in Australia over the past couple of years, and it would be easy to discredit much of it as bandwagon-hopping. However, when you’re working with land as wonderfully rich and fascinating as that which surrounds Blackwood Hill in the heart of the beautiful Steels Creek Valley, it all starts making perfect sense. Made in small batches with indigenous yeasts, and with no fining, filtering, chemical nasties or other interventions, the Calder family of Blackwood Hill are on a mission to bottle the very essence of their land.
The health and care of the vineyard are intimately interconnected with the management of the rest of the property. Sheep and cattle are fed the used grape skins from wine ferments, the lees are used as compost....everything is used in a cycle and nothing is wasted. Organic viticulture is not taken for granted here - it is recognised as the only sustainable way forward for the production of quality wine.The cool climate of the Yarra Valley ensures the wines are fresh, fragrant and purely fruited. The hands-off approach taken by the Calders further enhances this style and results in wines of great vibrancy.
Using amphorae, terracotta and a range of other mostly-forgotten winemaking methods, Blackwood Hill specialises in a no-nonsense kind of viticulture, with a clear link to the ancestral past of our favourite tipple... and the results are as captivating as they are delicious. The Calders have been at this game for some time, too - they started out as grape growers in 1988, when Yarra Valley was first beginning to really find its voice as a wine region. Over the past three decades, they’ve helped shape the identity not just of the valley itself, but of the booming natural wine scene in Australia as a whole.
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