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Details for Berton Vineyard, 'The Vermentino', Metal Label

South Eastern Australia
(click to find out more)
AppellationSouth Eastern Australia
Berton Vineyard
(click to find out more)

South Eastern Australia

South Eastern Australia is a catch-all covering pretty much everything that isn’t Western Australia, so any wine from the states of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania casn be labelled as such.
It’s usually a sign that the wine has been blended from grapes grown in different states. The westernmost vineyards of Victoria and New South Wales are contiguous with the easternmost ones of South Australia, so cross-border blending is commonplace.  In any case, it’s quite normal in vast, high-tech Australia to truck refrigerated grapes hundreds of miles to the winery.

Berton Vineyard

Berton Vineyard began in 1996 when Bob and Cherie Berton sold their house and bought a 30-acre plot of land in the High Eden subregion of the Barossa Valley, planting it initially with Shiraz and Chardonnay, followed later by Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
In 2005 they decided to buy their own winery to crush the 150 or so tons that the High Eden vineyard produced. They were looking for somewhere that could handle up to 2000 tons to allow for substantial expansion, but this proved hard to find. Then the former Penfolds winery at Yenda in the Riverina region of New South Wales came up for sale. Even though it was ten times the size they were looking for, the price was keen, so Bob and Cherie went into partnership with Jamie Bennett, Paul Bartholomaeus and James Ceccato to form Berton Vineyards, the company.
Initially they did a lot of contract winemaking for other labels to utilise the excess capacity, but their own output has grown to match the space.  Their top wines, labelled Berton Vineyard, still come from the original High Eden site, but they have added several other ranges.  The Reserve range uses fruit from High Eden and other premium South Australia subregions like Coonawarra, while the more value-oriented ranges like Metal Label are mostly sourced locally from Riverina.

about this wine About this wine

I’m not sure that intro video was any less embarrassing than letting me do the singing.  But Mr. Crowley is my favourite Ozzy Osbourne track.  Hopefully I have better taste in wine.
Italian grape varieties are the latest trend in Australia.  It’s not just about the novelty factor; canny winemakers have realised that they are generally better suited to the Australian climate than French ones.
Vermentino shines in Sardinia, where it produces the island’s best whites.  Despite the baking Mediterranean summers, Sardinian Vermentino always retains crisp, refreshing acidity, suggesting that it might be well suited to the warmer vineyards of Australia.
And they don’t come much warmer than the vast inland regions of Riverina and Riverland.  They’re a couple of hundred miles apart, with Riverina in New South Wales and Riverland in South Australia, but they have a lot in common.  The clue is in their names; both owe their existence to the Murray river and its tributaries, because they have so little rainfall that all the vineyards have to be irrigated.
And those vineyards are vast.  Riverland produces more wine than any other Australian region; Riverina comes in third.  Between the two (literally and figuratively) is the Murray Darling region.  Between them they account for 60% of all Australian wine production.
Much of it is bulk, bag-in-box wine – Aussies call them “bladder packs”.  But it doesn’t have to be: Riverina produces world-class botytised sweet Semillons, for example, and the potential is certainly there to produce excellent dry wines at moderate prices, given the right winemaker and the right grape variety.
Bob Berton is that winemaker, and Vermentino is one of those varieties.  Berton Vineyards started out in the prestigious High Eden subregion of South Australia, but moved their centre of operations to Riverina when they bought the old Penfolds winery at Yenda.  Regular award-winners, they’re one of the stars of the New South Wales wine scene.
Vermentino is sufficiently uncommon in Australia that this wine comes from two vineyards far apart, one in Riverina and the other in Riverland.  As a cross-border blend it carries the catch-all South Eastern Australia appellation.  Riverina provides the majority of the grapes, which were picked early in 2016 due to rain in late January (something almost unheard of here).  The Riverland grapes escaped the rain and were harvested later.
Riverina also supplied the other grapes in this blend, which isn’t quite a pure Vermentino.  It also contains 5% of Fiano (another aromatic Italian well-suited to Australia) and 2% each of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
The grapes were gently pressed with the juice being run immediately off the skins and allowed to settle at low temperature.  Each parcel was fermented separately in stainless steel for around 14 days at a low 14°C, using cultured yeasts.
They were then clarified by filtration.  Not all the parcels had fermented completely to dryness, so a touch of residual sugar remained once the yeasts had been removed by the filters – just 9 grams per litre.  The parcels were then blended and bottled.  Low temperatures and careful exclusion of oxygen were maintained throughout in order to maximise freshness and aromas in the wine.

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