When it comes to wine, imbibing and creating are two very different beasts. But for writer, media maven and all-round babeface Sheridan Wright, the two are coalescing beautifully in one bright pink package for Wine: Baptism of Fire.
Now in its second year, Wine: Baptism of Fire pits six pairs of vinous enthusiasts against one another, each crafting their own wine under the watchful eye of an experienced winemaker. L’Babeface has buddied up with Ketel One ambassador Chris Hysted, who “basically gets to have parties and get pissed for living”, guided by Matt Harrop from New Zealand.
Oh, and did I mention they’re making their wine at Bindi in the Macedon Ranges using grapes from Mount Langi Ghiran in the Grampians. Yep, that’s some serious pedigree right there.
We caught up over a glass of wine (or three) to find out how their creation is fairing.
Why put yourself through the effort of making wine when you can simply nip down to the bottle’o? While I’ve been working for the James Halliday Wine Companion Magazine, I’ve experienced an aggressive learning curve – I’ve gone from knowing absolutely nothing to ‘just a little bit’, and I wanted to understand the magical process that turns grapes into goon.
Why a rosé? Or ‘Rosie’ as she’s affectionately known around the office? Chris and I spent a decent portion of last summer abusing Melbourne’s rooftop bars, and rosé was our drink of choice, so we have an appreciation for it, even though it’s not always in vogue. We also took the competition timeframe and release date into account. Decent shiraz needs a decent amount of time in the barrel to build complexity and balance out. For rosé, it’s a short and sweet process, and you can nail the style much more quickly. The wine’s going to be released in October, so we like to think of it as a ‘ready to wear’ collection.
What have you learnt during the process? The most embarrassing thing is that I used to think the only way you could make rosé was by mixing red and white wine together. Thankfully I did a class with Clare Burder at the Humble Tumbler, and she set me straight!
Tell us about Matt, your winemaking swami. Matt is a chilled out Kiwi who just floats through with this effortless sense of letting things be. He told us:
“Winemaking isn’t about what you do, but what you choose not to do.”
How often do you check in on Rosie? Initially, a lot – she was like a new born baby in that she required a lot of attention. We’d visit her every five to seven days for the first month, now it’s every two to three weeks. During the ferment process, she was quite needy: we’d have to check her levels and make sure she wasn’t too hot or too cold, or needed to be fed more yeast. The good girl put herself through malo (malolactic fermentation) – the process that converts tart malic acid into lactic acid to give it a softer mouthfeel.
“I like to think it gives her a bit of a booty, less like a skinny pointy girl and more like a Monica Bellucci!”
How does she taste? She’s fairly traditional on the nose, with hints of strawberries and roses, so we’re not reinventing the wheel there. And she’s super dry and fresh, so you can enjoy her with or without food. We want you to start sipping Rosie at an afternoon barbecue and end up with her on a rooftop at dawn.
And what have you called the wine? Guns & Rosé – and there’s a suggested listening soundtrack with every bottle. She’s slightly boozier than is popular for a rosé, sitting close to 14%, which is slightly risqué for this style, but it’s the ultimate date wine – if there’s not at least one illegitimate child conceived after a night of Guns & Rose, then we’ve failed in our duties.
The first cases of Guns & Rosé go under the hammer next Monday night, with general release to the public in October. We’re steeling ourselves for a rush of babies named Axl around July next year.