Vintage Report 2005 John Gehrig Wines

Ross Gehrig of John Gehrig Wines at Oxley in the King Valley has had a busy vintage, but he has found time to share some of his experience.

We are quite small in production less than 80 tonnes. We hand prune and pick, and do all winemaking packaging inhouse. We process only our own fruit, or if not acknowledge the grower (1% of our production). My father John who is a 4th generation winemaker in the early days did all the winemaking. Since 2001 I have been at the wheel of the winemaking pump at John Gehrig Wines.


Durif in my mind, should be a big alcoholic gutsy red, with powerful colour and plenty of flavour. Greenness should not be present, never in fact. We either make dry red or vintage ports out of our durif, the tannin structure is very good for port and also big dry red styles.

Viticulture plays a big part in good durif, the saying goes, can't make strawberry jam out of.... ever so true here. Experience, low cropping levels and a good warm site (or excellent viticultural practices such as manipulation of canopy are required). Clean fruit is a must (durif can be quite susceptible to disease.) Long dry growing seasons are ideal.

At John Gerig Wines our 2005 Durif actually turned out very well. I only racked this off malo lees the other day (early July). Strong tannins, intense purple hue and lovely mouthfilling palate have eventuated this year. I am quite happy with this wine so far (so early), but it's living in some decent oak now, so 12 months time should tell us whether it'll perform well. Looks promising.

2004 Durif. It's actually sitting in tank waiting patiently to be bottled. Again a strong tannic style, big 'boys' wine, shiraz killer! Large mouthfill, plenty of mouth puckering flavours just waiting for some hearty meat dish or firm cheese.....

Awards to date:
2001 Durif vintage port; silver Cowra, bronze Rutherglen
2002 Durif dry red, written up in Winestate ( 3 star I think)
I don't often show these wines as the wine show conditions (volume required) is usually too large for us. I do have some 04 going in a few shows; so we'll see how that goes.


My baby wine! Totally opposite to durif! A beautifully perfumed and aromatic light red that should be drunk more in oz. Too many big bloke mentality, "awwhhh that's too piss weak, give me a shiraz ( should say durif!!!!!).
Gamay makes it mark in the summer months, slightly chilled if you like. Gamay nearly the only red I drink in summer; it's aromatics, light tannins and general good handling are a winner (doesn't knock you around). Lighter meats, antipasto, are good combos.

I am actually about to jet off to Beaujolias to do their vintage in September, this will be the 4th vintage I've worked there.. needless to say I have learnt a little about Gamay. The Chateaux I work for has a couple of winery sites ( Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly and another village site), I have run the smaller site for 3 consecutive vintages, but this year the owner has asked me to come back and run the largest site (300t)... should be fun, going back to working 90 -100hr weeks!

Again viticulture here is important, Gamay likes to overcrop and thus will produce thin, flavourless wines (only good for quaffing and making industrial alcohol.) The variety is disease prone and a finicky little variety to control, but those aromas just drive me to produce it! This variety as well as vineyard dependant is incredibly dependant on good winemaking, slack off and you'll see the unfortunate results. That's why there's a few pretty average Gamays on the market.

2002 Gamay; 4 star in winestate, written up in the Gourmet Traveller and mentioned as being one of the three best Australian examples.

The wineshow system doesn't like Gamay; the early drinking classes are filled with light grenache with residual sweetness that do well ( sinful stuff...). Needless to say my Gamays are dry, flavoursome food wines.

Chenin Blanc

Fantastic, flavoursome, aromatic little number that is the jewel of the Loire Valley and holds a special place with my taste buds! The aromas' of Chenin fermenting is something to behold; 6am in vintage and the whole winery smell of fresh apples as you open the door! Fanatic wine but is so poorly recognized in the public eyes ( large companies producing example that are insidiously girly sweet - ruins all the flavour ( or masks the lack of fruit flavour)). Seafood, asian spicy numbers, salads and even fruit based desserts are good combos' here. We've made chenin since early eighties, so we have learnt what to do by now. In 2001 when I arrived home, the vineyard saw a huge revamp and thus the quality has lifted up another notch again it was ok before too)

Again hard to grow well, loves to overcrop, loves getting diseased and is very particular to viticulture. Bad viticulture will produce disease, unripeness, sunburn (cooked burnt flavours) and too much crop (lack of varietal flavour). Likes a cool to warm site, with dry ripening conditions (though some botrytis rot is a good thing)

2005 John Gehrig Wines Chenin; just bottled her a few weeks ago, great aromatic, large ripe mouthfill and a reasonably dry palate. If chenin is bone dry it will seem quite hard and tannic, so most of ours have a little residual sweetness to suit the style- still dry by chenin standards though) I have entered this in a few wine shows, we'll see how it goes.

2004 Chenin, good wine, to our style, This wine won bronze in Melbourne and Rutherglen shows.
2003 Chenin bronze in Rutherglen
2002 Chenin ripe succulent style, higher residual sugar due to a hot year, excellent dessert wine.

Many chenins don't do well in the wine shows or press, too bad that as people are missing out some very interesting wines. My results here don't look flash, but keep in mind, I am level with the good chenins around (they didn't do any better in the same shows). Unfortunate, but true.

John Gehrig Wines is a small producer of quality sweet and dry table wines and fortified wines.

See other reports on the 2005 Vintage in Australia.

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