More White Wine than Sauvignon, there's lightweight yellow fruit at its core, dressed up with confectioner's sugar and flour. Couple that with pineapple and passion fruit aromas on the nose, and meat-and-sugar flavors on the close, and you've just got a good but confused, varietally vague wine.
This 2005 has the right amount of age in the bottle, but the brickish edges don't do justice to this great wine. In the mouth acid level feels high but is quickly replaced by a ripe, fruity, robust wine that leaves you wanting another sip.
Planting of the Jinks Creek vineyard antedated the building of the winery by 11 years, but all of the wines are made from estate-grown grapes. Perched above the vineyard with an uninterrupted view of the Bunyip State Forest and Black Snake Ranges, a refurbished 100-year-old wool shed has been renovated to house a restaurant, art gallery and cellar door. This venue is constructed entirely from recycled materials sourced from Gippsland, including old lining boards, a kauri pine dance floor and a perfectly preserved pressed-tin ceiling. Exports to the US.
Author: James Halliday
(Four Glasses) 2002 Very light straw-green; the aromatic bouquet has slight signs of reduction alongside the tropical gooseberry fruit; the same jekyll and hyde characteristics come in to play on the palate. Others less intolerant of reduction would doubtless give the wine a higher score.
As with the ten best new wineries, this is a highly subjective list of wineries which have either shown recent but impressive improvement in their wines, or which simply deserve greater recognition. With one exception (Stanton and Killeen) they are all rated 4.5 stars, rather than five. Without wishing to appear presumptuous, a five-star rating is recognition in itself.
Good red-purple; an appealing balance of cherry/plum fruit and integrated oak on the bouquet, then a very powerful ripe palate with an array of berry flavours and even chocolate, relecting the seven different clones planted; the alcohol (13.8%) kick slightly on the finish, but there is every prospect the wine will age well.
Jinks Creek Winery is situated between Gembrook and Bunyip, bordering the evocatively named Bunyip State Park. Whie the winety was not built until 1992, planting of the 2.5 hectare vineyard started back in 1981 and all the wines are estate-grown. The 'sold out' sign goes up every year, small wondr in vintages such as 2000.
"When people buy your wine and say 'That's beautiful' there is satisfaction. Putting the vines, watching them grow and producing wine is a long road."
When he was a boy Andrew Clarke was fascinated with the grapevine growing in the yard of his parents' Sandringham home.
He was intrigued as the vine grew, spawned flowers, bore fruit and then took on the red and golden hues of autumn before the cycle started all over again. The young Andrew also soaked in the smell of oak bottling wine beside his grandfather, Robert Robertson, a wine merchant who ran a liquor store in bustling Flinders Lane. That he should grow up to become one of Gippsland's leading viticulture experts, helping establish new wineries and advising established growers throughout Victoria, should come as no surprise.
"I guess my interest came from my grandfather and also the strong interest I had in the grapevine growing at our house. I was fascinated by it. I liked the way the plant worked, the way it looked." said Andrew.
Today, Andrew tends seven acres of vines at his Tonimbuk winery, Jinks Creek. His family bought the 50 acre property in 1974. Nestled next to the magnificent Bunyip State Forest, it is a picturesque mix of lush green wines and native bush set against the backdrop of the Black Snake Ranges.
Clad in dirty blue jeans and equally well worked white shirt, Andrew walks among his vines, his barrel-like red heeler Trevor at his heels.
His is a boutique production. With the help of former Bunyip orchardist Victor Agnoleto, Andrew produces 10 ro 12 barrels of pinot noir each year and sux to eight barrels of Shiraz from grapes grown in the warmer East Gippsland climate at Longford.
The Jinks Creek label appears on menus at several restaurants in Melbourne and Brisbane, including Walters Wine Bar at Southgate, The George Hotel in St Kilda and All Nations in Richmond.
The label is available locally at the Pakenham Inn. Andrew planted his first acre of pinot noir and Chardonnay in 1979 when he was just 22. He had already completed his viticulture course at Wagga Agricultural College, which he attended on scholarship.
"It was all over the place, pretty messy," he grinned.
"The surveying wasn't spot on, some rows were wider than others but it was a learening experience. You learn a lot from your own mistakes." While the grapes were young, Andrew seized the opportunity to work at established wineries throughout Australia as well as overseas in France and California.
"In France there was a lot happening, still is. It is a very old industry there. I learnt a hell of a lot there about both viticulture and winemaking."
"I remember being sent to a 16th century vineyard in Entredermers to clean it up, organise the harvest and make the wine by myself. I guess you could say I cut my teeth there."
He has also worked at St Huberts in the Yarra Valley, Brown Brothers at Milawa and Fergusons in the Yarra Valley. He filed away the knowledge of people like Giaconda's Rick Krinzbrunner, with whom he worked at Brown Brothers, and Brian Fletcher, who was at St Huberts while Andrew was there. He credits German viticulture lecturer Max Loader as his principal mentor.
Andrew produced his first vintage under his Jinks Creek label in 1988. Before then he sold his grapes to Domain Chandon.
He says he likes the diversity of agriculture and the challenge of growing quality grapes.
"A lot more credit should be given to the growing of grapes as opposed to wine making" he said.
"You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear. Wine making is an adjunct to grape growing. If you get bad grapes delivered to a winery you're not going to make good wine."
"Quality becomes an issue because there are a lot of vineyards and an increase in supply which means a decrease in price and increase in the need for quality."
"More and more people are becoming educated as well as discerning, especially when it comes to different styles of wine. Even though price is still an important factor, people will experiment and taste different things.â€
"There are fads in the Australian wine industry. Three years ago demand dropped off for Chardonnay, but now it's back up there again. The public is fickle, they swap and change."
Andrew's consulting work takes him away from Jinks Creek and his young family, as new wineries spring up all over Victoria.
"People think [growing grapes] is the good life, but it is intensive agriculture that is knowledge based. You are always learning both sides of it."
Andrew and his wife Abi relaunched the Jinks Creek label three years ago with new label designs by Melbourne artist Esther Erlich.
Abi's family own the Libby Edwards trio of galleries in Melbourne, Sydney and Portsea. Esther Erlich is one of their most popular artists.
"We wanted them to be light-hearted, so people could pick up a bottle of our wine and not take drinking it too seriously."
"We love her art," added Abi.
The original painting from which the labels were taken hang on the walls of the couples farmhouse.
"Without saying too much about the wine, the bottle says you'll have a good time."
While Andrew's knowledge is now keenly sought, viticulture wasn't always lucrative.
"I was involved before I suppose you could say it was fashionable. For awhile it was really hard to get regular work in the early eighties through to the late eighties. There was a huge renaissance in the early 1990's."
Today vineyards are springing up all over Victoria. Andrew helped Michael Pullar set up his fifteen acre vineyard at Pakenham Upper and advised the Hardiker family when they were setting up Cannibal Creek at Tynon North.
He believes Gippsland has untapped potential to become as recognised a wine reason as the Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula
"Marketing of wine is a real issue in this area. There is no unity. We need to have a few more wineries to say we're a region like the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley. At the moment we're a bit too obscure."
That could be about to change as Gippsland wineries demand notice at industry shows.
Jinks Creek took out a silver medal at the recent
Southern Victorian Wine Show for its 2000 shiraz and bronze for its pinot noir of the same vintage. Cannibal Creek also did well. Andrew hopes professional success will breed more interest in Gippsland as a wine region.
Professional recognition is the end of a long hard road that ends with the release with a cork and the filling of glasses.
"When people buy your wine and say 'that's beautiful', there is satisfaction. Putting in vines, watching them grow and producing wine is a long road."
As he mused on the commitment needed to produce wine, Andrew suddenly said he believed wine reflected something of the personality of those who made it.
What does his wine say about Andrew Clarke?
"Don't know. Hopefully it shows I've put a lot of effort in to it."
Andrew Clarke is a freelance viticulture adviser working throughout southern Victoria. Over the last decade he has been turning his hand to winemaking using fruit from his own Gippsland vineyard and suitably good fruit from Yarra Valley and Longford growers. The quality is surprisingly good, and the flavours are very complex rather than just offering simple fruit and oak driven flavours. They are the most exciting wines to come out of Gippsland since Bass Phillip and Moondarra.
Jinks Creek Pinot Noir 2000
This is one from Andrew's vineyard situated in the foothills of the Black Snake Ranges in west Gippsland. It offers intense fruit, foresty spice and earthy undertones, and beats the pants off most fruit lollyish pinots of similar or higher prices. For the viticulturists out there the clones planted are the faithful mv6 and d5v12, the newer 114 and 115.
Wine lovers can raise their glass to the local viticulture industry as up and coming wineries put Cardinia on the wine map.
Cannibal Creek Winery at Tynong North and Jinks Creek at Tonimbuk have matched it all with the best in the state to take honours at two recent wine shows.
Tonimbuk's Jinks Creek Winery fared well at the Southern Victorian Wine Show picking up a silver for its 2000 shiraz and a bronze for its pinot noir of the same vintage.
2000, Jinks Creek Gippsland Pinot Noir, Shiraz. Feb 25, James Halliday.
The little Jinks Creek winery of Gippsland has come up with three wonderful wines from the 2000 vintage. The first is Gippsland Pinot Noir (90 points, $22), loaded wih ripe fruit reflecting the seven different clones planted; the next is an astonishing Yarra Valley Shiraz, even by the standards of the vintage, super-powerful and concentrated but not over-extracted (94 point $28) and a Gippsland Shiraz, once again with very ripe fruit and multifaceted small berry flavours (92 points, $20).
A warning these wines sell out very quickly and were available at the time of writing, but may have sold out since.
Autumn Issue 2002
Gippsland Rising Star
Impressed with the 2000 offerings from this small family owned vineyard in South-east Gippsland. Armadale Cellars is happy to present 2000 Jinks Creek Sauvignon Blanc and 2000 Jinks Shiraz.
2000 Jinks Sauvignon Blanc
Attractive herbaceous aromas that manage to avoid those tom-cat scents. Riped fruits are evident on the bouquet that follows through on the palate to provide a fresh, taut style.
2000 Jinks Longford Shiraz
Don't let the name lead you astray, this wine will not shutdown. Shiraz provides more savoury, earthy characteristics reminiscent of Northern Rhone. The palate shows those desirable fleshy, dark fruits offset by that trademark peppery Shiraz spice.
The Weekend Australian - Feb 23-24, 2002
2000 Jinks Creek Pinot Noir
Yarra Valley Shiraz and Longford Shiraz
The little Jinks Creek winery of Gippsland has come up with three wonderful wines from the 2000 vintage.The pinot noir (90 points, $22) loaded with ripe fruit, reflects the seven different clones planted; the Yarra Valley shiraz is astonishing, even by the standards of the vintage, super-powerful and concentrated but not over-extracted (94 points, $28) and the Longford Shiraz, once again with very ripe fruit, has multifaceted small berry flavours (92 points, $20). A warning - these wines sell out quickly and were available at the time of writing but may have since sold out.
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