Oct 21: Michael Fragos and Jeremy Gordon, the young highly regarded and awarded winemakers from Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale and Amelia Park in Margaret River, Western Australia were in India last week when Subhash Arora met them at Cirrus 9 Bar at the Oberoi, New Delhi at an evening of tête-à-tête with them by Le Cave and the importer Brindco and tasted the four wines being currently imported
Wines from Michael Fragos and Jeremy Gordon have been on the shelves of La Cave for one year. The Duo made their first whirlwind visit to India last week and visited Delhi and Mumbai before promising to return every year. Coincidentally they also met for the first time as the visit was planned for them to jointly meet stalwarts of the industry and customers in Delhi and Mumbai.
Chapel Hill and Michael Fragos
Chapel Hill Winery is named after the iconic ironstone Chapel built in 1865 and shut after a special commemorative service in December 5, 1965 to officially close the Chapel after 100 years. Planting of the vineyard commenced in 1972 and the first vintage was in 1975. Michael has been working at Chapel Hill as a winemaker since 2004.
The growth of Chapel Hill Winery into a world-renowned wine producer was led initially by one of pioneer women winemakers of South Australia- Pam Dunsford. Several excellent wines from the 1990’s are still drinking beautifully today. With 40+ years experience almost half of which was in the Chapel Hill Winery, she became earlier this month the first woman Legend of the Vine in South Australia.
Michael Fragos, CEO and Chief Winemaker follows the legacy left by her. He began his career at Chapel Hill in winemaking capacity and now mentors and guides the team through both winemaking and business management. He was on his first tour of India, showcasing the Parson Shiraz 2016 and McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.
Shiraz was a medium bodied wine with dark ruby colour and spicy perfumes mingling with red fruits. Full on the mouthfeel, it was elegant, fruity with a juicy end that makes you want to sip more and more. At Rs. 2100 a bottle MRP, it is an excellent value-for-money quality wine and in fact recommendable. By spending a few hundred bucks, you can get a delicious drinking wine than the ubiquitous plonk available in the market.
Cabernet Sauvignon on the other hand, was more serious and structured wine with blackberry aromas, silky tannins and long end-definitely a food wine with red meats or mushroom or aubergine vegetarian dishes. At Rs. 3300 a bottle, it has restricted market.
The purity and balance expressed in our wines is inspired by a deep respect for our land and vines,” says Michael who was accompanied by his wife on the visit. Incidentally, he does no fining or filteration of his wines.
Jeremy Gordon of Amelia Park
Jeremy Gordon is one of Australia's most highly regarded winemakers. He has won some of the industry's most prestigious awards, including Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy and James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge. He was named one of the 50 Stars of 2008 by a respected wine journal Wine Business Monthly He believes that success starts in the vineyards and works closely with a select group of premium vineyards to achieve superior and consistent fruit quality.
Jeremy started Amelia Park Wines in 2009 with his wife Daniela and a business partner Peter Walsh. He is dedicated to produce wines of very good quality, showcasing the terroir of Margaret River. James Halliday hailed Jeremy's skills with a "Ten of the Best New Wineries" entry in his 2010 Wine Companion.
A man of modest demeanour he believes that his success lies in a hands-on approach to every step of the process, attention to detail and an unquenchable passion for making consistently outstanding wines.
Margaret River and in fact Western Australia is known to be one of the fine wine producing region and his wines show it on the palate. Jeremy says ‘We combine leading edge techniques with traditional winemaking values and practices- elegant, fruit-driven varietals, complex in structure yet easily and irresistibly enjoyable.’
Amelia Park makes three labels- Amelia Park Selection, Reserve Selection and the entry level Trellis Selection which is exported to Brindco and retailed at La Cave. The white Bordeaux blend with 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon was a fresh, crispy and vivacious wine with live acidity. The pale straw coloured wine in a transparent bottle, was full of tropical fruit flavours which were persistent with long after-taste. At Rs. 2800 it is a tad too expensive. Ideally,, if it were Rs. 2100, it would have formed an ideal mate with Michael’s Shiraz and the box of 2 would have made a perfect gift or a purchase of a white and red wine together. Alas, the difference in price is a bit too much to ask for reduction.
The Cab Merlot 2016 with 40% Merlot is a well integrated blend that has good structure and intense perfumes of red fruits and a shade of coffee and chocolate. The medium bodied wine is soft on the palate with shades of red fruit and is juicy enough to drink more than one ought to in one sitting.
Besides the passion the two winemakers had one more thing in common- they were down to earth and very humble and enjoyed talking to everyone. But for the snacks that seemed to come at slower pace than the wine, it was a fun meeting, what with the fantastic ambience in the alfresco area outside the bar, buzzing with people, drinking mostly wine. If one could see such sights more often and with more people, one could say with certainty that the wine culture in Delhi had arrived.
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