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Andrew Caillard’s Tasting Notes for Grosset Gaia

Jeffrey Grosset established his Gaia vineyard in 1986, just below Mount Horrocks in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Isolated and windswept, at an elevation of 570 metres it is the region’s highest vineyard.

Consisting of two hectares of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, this strikingly beautiful site is extremely challenging and requires careful management. Hard red rock predominates, and the rocky outcrops that break through the earth prevent inter-row cropping and weed control through tillage. Instead, seed is broadcast by hand and grasses and clovers encouraged to regenerate.

Close-planted at 3000 vines per hectare, the yield is about two kilograms per vine; less than two bottles of wine. That vines manage to grow here at all is something of a marvel, let alone the quality and consistency of the fruit they produce.

 

Grosset named the vineyard ‘Gaia’ after scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock’s theory of symbiosis, which posits that the earth is a single living organism of immense complexity; one that depends on the full diversity of its species to remain in balance, sustain its ecological health, and restore itself in the face of the changing environmental conditions precipitated by human activity.

Grosset has absorbed Lovelock’s ecological theories and applied them to his own methods of viticulture so that today, his vineyard is hand-tended and ACO certified organic. The resilience of the vines in such difficult terrain is a testament to the soundness of this philosophy.

 

 

1990: medium deep crimson. Fresh earthy, cassis and herb garden aromas with some chocolate, briary, polished leather notes. well-concentrated palate with cassis, earthy, polished leather flavours, and loose-knit, but slightly leafy tannins. Finishes minerally and long. Still has the richness on the mid palate to age further. 86 points. now – 2020.

 

1991: medium deep crimson. Fragrant herb, blackcurrant, tobacco and coffee aromas with some savoury notes. Delicious wine with blackcurrant, espresso and tobacco flavours, and lovely smooth sweet fruit, fine loose-knit chalky tannins, underlying savoury, paneforte notes. Finishes long and sweet with a tannin plume. very good. 93 points. now – 2025.

 

1992: medium deep crimson. earthy, herb, sage, mint, cassis and red plum aromas. a concentrated but mature palate with earthy, leather flavours with some sweet cassis fruit notes, plentiful sinewy dry tannins. Finishes chalky dry and minerally. 88 points. now – 2025.

 

1993: medium deep colour. lovely cassis, red licorice, slightly leafy and silage aromas. Sweet and savoury palate with black fruits, dark chocolate, apricot, silage and leafy flavours. Plenty of mid-palate richness and fine, chalky, al-dente tannins. to some extent typical of the vintage,but still fresh with considerable vigour. 89 points. now - 2025.

 

1994: medium deep colour. intense blackcurrant, praline, orange peel and clove aromas. lovely rich voluminous and bouyant blackcurrant, tobacco and praline flavours and fine-grained cedar tannins. Finishes chocolaty firm but long and savoury. Has plenty of fruit power but is elegantly structured. Super wine. 96 points. now – 2035.

 

1995: medium deep crimson. Fresh cassis, dark chocolate and vanilla aromas with touch of herb and tobacco. very claret, margaux-like. Fresh and minerally with cassis, praline and herb flavours. Fine, lacy, supple, graphite tannins and underlying tobacco and savoury notes. Beautiful length. 94 points. now – 2025.

 

1996: medium deep crimson. absolutely gorgeous wine with fragrant cassis, lead pencil, praline, earthy, sage aromas. Beautifully smooth and concentrated palate with complex cassis, cedar and black truffle flavours and superb fresh chocolaty tannins. Finishes long with sweet cassis, praline, sage flavours and underlying savoury mocha notes. a hint of brettanomyces? very impressive wine nonetheless. 97 points. now – 2030.

 

1997: medium deep crimson. complex truffle, mint, sage, celery, silage and cassis aromas. well-concentrated wine with cassis, celery, spicy white-pepper flavours and lacy, dry tannins. Plenty of mid-palate buoyancy. Finishes chalky firm and long. Best to drink earlier rather than later.91 points. now – 2020.

 

1998: medium deep colour. Fragrant, ripe cassis, praline, cedar, vanilla and espresso aromas. lovely concentrated palate with pure, ripe blackcurrant and dark chocolate flavours and fine, plentiful, chalky dry tannins. lots of stuffing on the mid-palate, balanced out with lovely mocha and savoury oak. it finishes al-dente, but is long and flavourful. very impressive wine. 95 points. now – 2030.

 

1999: medium colour. intense and classical cassis, vanilla and tobacco
leaf aromas. elegant and powerful with saturated cassis flavours, plentiful chocolaty dry tannins, superb mid-palate richness and fruit complexity. underlying paneforte notes. minerally and fruit sweet at the finish. not as plush as 1998, but in some ways more classically and sinuously structured. will last forever. 96 points. now – 2040.

 

2000: under screwcap. medium deep crimson. Fresh blackcurrant and herb garden aromas with some chocolate and vanilla notes. medium-concentrated but generous blackcurrant, leafy herb-garden flavours and plentiful, chalky dry tannins. Finishes long and chocolaty. a savoury wine with emphasis on structure.86 points. now – 2020.

 

2001: medium deep crimson. intense blackcurrant, cranberry, tobacco and sage aromas with some savoury notes. well- concentrated wine with blackcurrant, dusty oak and tobacco flavours. Fine, loose-knit, chalky tannins. Finishes quite gravelly and long. Some leafy notes.87 points. now – 2030.

 

2002: Deep colour. lovely complex cassis, grilled nut and vanilla aromas with some herb and leafy notes. Deep-set cassis, praline and cedar flavours with underlying savoury and mocha oak. tannins are fine grained and slightly al dente. lovely freshness, complexity and vinosity at the finish. 97 points. now – 2040.

 

2003: Deep colour. intense dark chocolate, silage and mocha aromas with some floral notes. rich coffee and silage flavours, with muddy, chalky tannins and underlying savoury nuances. Finishes chocolaty and thick. lacks the refinement of style but has the stuffing to last a while. 83 points. now – 2025.

 

2004: medium deep colour. very fresh aromatic wine with scented cassis and rose petal aromas and underlying vanilla and mocha notes. classical with ripe cassis and musky plum flavours with herb garden notes, fine-grained cedar tannins and roasted-chestnut oak notes. Finishes firm and long. 98 points. now – 2040.

 

2005: Deep colour. Fresh and fragrant cassis, herb garden and praline aromas with hints of mint. well concentrated cassis and herb garden flavours, with fine-grained, leafy, sappy tannins and underlying mocha notes. Finishes chalky firm. 91 points. now – 2030.

 

2006: Deep colour. Blackcurrant, violet, toast and graphite aromas with some espresso notes. lovely pure cassis and roasted-chestnut flavours, with fine- grained, al-dente tannins and underlying chocolaty notes. Finishes long and sweet. Bloody good. 98 points. now – 2040.

 

2007: medium deep colour. intense plum, rhubarb, stewed fruit and apricot aromas. Fresh rhubarb, contrived fruit flavours of plum and sweet fruit, and supple, savoury tannins. Finishes firm and chalky. 84 points. now – 2035.

 

2008: Deep colour. Pure cassis aromas with underlying savoury, vanilla and herb notes. Still elemental but almost perfect. Superb cassis, grilled almond, paneforte, roasted chestnut and vanilla flavours, and loose-knit sweet tannins. Finishes long and sweet-fruited with plenty of roasted chestnut, vanilla and marzipan notes. utterly australian. 99 points. now – 2040.

 

2009: medium deep colour. Fresh blackcurrant and herb garden aromas
with a hint of spearmint. Beautifully concentrated blackcurrant, herb and sage aromas, with fine-grained, slightly gritty tannins and some roasted chestnut notes. Finishes quite minerally. tannin plume.
94 points. now – 2035. 

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History

“We aim to produce the best examples of variety and place. This is self-explanatory really; riesling from the Clare Valley, expressing the dramatic differences between soft rock and hard rock sites and then differences within those broad categories; uniquely sited Semillon and fiano, cabernet from the coolest site in the region and of course, chardonnay and pinot noir from an even cooler sub-region of the Adelaide Hills. Purity of fruit and optimum ripeness are crucial to us, and we are not afraid to use different wine making approaches to bring the best out of each vineyard. Each is a testament to this philosophy.” Jeffrey Grosset.

 

Grosset Wines is an independently owned winery producing seven highly regarded premium wines each vintage. Established in 1981, the winery is situated in the historic township of Auburn at the southern tip of the Clare Valley, 100 kilometres north of Adelaide.

While in its fourth decade, annual production is capped at 11,000 cases (dozens), predominantly produced from twenty hectares of estate vineyards. Remaining small and focused has allowed Grosset Wines to preserve the character and individuality of the wines, developing a significant international profile by producing wines deemed consistently outstanding, benchmarks in their class.

Jeffrey Grosset, owner and founder, has always been an innovator, challenging tradition and questioning accepted practices. He campaigned to institute the legal integrity of the riesling grape in Australia, was a leading proponent for the introduction of screwcap closures and privately funded research into the subject.

Grosset Wines’ philosophy has remained steadfast over thirty years. The emphasis is on purity of fruit. The estate vineyards, which are ACO certified organic, are hand tended and each bunch of grapes is harvested at optimum ripeness. The winemaking process is gentle and uncomplicated. With dedication, discipline and the application of knowledge garnered through decades of experience, the result is the finest expression of variety and place.

Jeffrey Grosset was voted the inaugural Australian Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE in 1998, and is internationally recognised as one of the ‘Top 10 White Winemakers’ (Decanter, UK) and one of the ‘50 Most Influential Winemakers’ (Wine & Spirits, USA) in the world today.

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Vineyards

Jeffrey Grosset established his Gaia vineyard in 1986, just below Mount Horrocks in the Clare Valley, South Australia. Isolated and windswept, at an elevation of 570 metres it is the region’s highest vineyard.

Consisting of two hectares of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, this strikingly beautiful site is extremely challenging and requires careful management. Hard red rock predominates, and the rocky outcrops that break through the earth prevent inter-row cropping and weed control through tillage. Instead, seed is broadcast by hand and grasses and clovers encouraged to regenerate.

Close-planted at 3000 vines per hectare, the yield is about two kilograms per vine; less than two bottles of wine. That vines manage to grow here at all is something of a marvel, let alone the quality and consistency of the fruit they produce.

Grosset named the vineyard ‘Gaia’ after scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock’s theory of symbiosis, which posits that the earth is a single living organism of immense complexity; one that depends on the full diversity of its species to remain in balance, sustain its ecological health, and restore itself in the face of the changing environmental conditions precipitated by human activity.

Grosset has absorbed Lovelock’s ecological theories and applied them to his own methods of viticulture so that today, his vineyard is hand-tended and ACO certified organic. The resilience of the vines in such difficult terrain is a testament to the soundness of this philosophy.

First released in 1990, Grosset practices very straightforward winemaking techniques, believing this to be the best approach. The wine is fermented in small, inert containers with the skins plunged gently and regularly over a seven day period to fully extract flavour and tannins. It is then matured in a combination of new and seasoned French oak for sixteen months before being bottled without fining. After that, the wine is further cellared for one year before its release.

Grosset Gaia is an elegant, savoury blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, with the cabernet making up 75 to 80 percent of the blend, depending on the year. It is the vineyard’s altitude that drives this wine’s unique characters; powerful, with concentrated briary and blackcurrant fruits, it has a tight structure, firm underlying tannins and impressive balance and length.

Grosset Polish Hill is produced exclusively from the eight-hectare estate-owned Polish Hill Vineyard in the Clare Valley. The gently sloping site is comprised of silt and shallow shales over a thin crust of clay and gravel. This overlays a bed of blue slate, estimated to be around 500-million-years old.

This ‘hard rock’ site was originally part of a larger estate but was considered to be of limited agricultural value and so was sold off. The vines here struggle to draw nutrients from the soil, so the bunches and berries are small, and the fruit flavours lean and austere. Indeed, this vineyard exemplifies how old-rock profiles can contribute to a wine’s character.

Relatively close-planted to three clones (two German and one local), this ACO Certified Organic vineyard is completely tended by hand; hand-pruning, shoot and crop adjustment and hand harvesting ensures the delivery of pristine quality fruit.

No tillage is employed and no fertilisers are introduced: a mix of natural and introduced clovers and grasses are maintained between the vines and allowed to self-seed.

Since the first striking example of Polish Hill Riesling in 1981, Grosset has maintained a gentle and uncomplicated winemaking approach which focuses on the purity of the fruit. After harvest, the stems are removed and the thick-skinned yellow-tinged berries are lightly split, with only the free run (first cut) juice being used.

This, combined with the challenging rocky profile of the site and consequent low yields, results in an average of two bottles of wine per vine being produced. The must is cold-settled before being decanted off.  Fermentation and settling on yeast lees occurs over a period of months.

Multiple small scale ferments proceed according to clone and vine age, and occur exclusively in inert containers, guaranteeing a purity of fruit expression. They are later assessed and the final blend assembled. Wines from this vineyard are never fined, nor is oak used.

The result is the purest possible example of varietal character composed from this unique site: concentrated aromatic wines of great structure, with intense citrus flavours and cool slate characters, finishing long and dry.

 

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  12 wines 

A great tasting was hold by the Institute of Masters of Wine and Vinexpo on the topic of Riesling around the World. Debra Meiburg MW moderated this prestigious event featuring a number of Master of Wine for Rieslings from different countries. Gerard Basset MW presented Alsace, Markus Del Monego MW presented Germany, Roman Horvath MW was explaining Austrian Riesling, Justin Howard-Sneyd MW represented Australia and Matthew Deller North America. 

1m 21d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  20 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Grosset Gaia 2008 / 99 points / Deep colour. Pure cassis aromas with underlying savoury, vanilla and herb notes. Still elemental but almost perfect. Superb cassis, grilled almond, paneforte, roasted chestnut and vanilla flavours, and loose-knit sweet tannins. Finishes long and sweet-fruited with plenty of roasted chestnut, vanilla and marzipan notes. utterly australian. now – 2040

10m 2d ago

 Jasmin Foster / Sommelier, Pro (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  23 wines 

“Torbreck's RunRig is the estate's flagship wine, made from extremely old vines from eight separate premium Barossa plots.

The RunRig 1996 combines the sheer fruit intensity of some of the finest Shiraz vines of the Barossa with European elegance - the small percentage of Viognier adding real vitality - and hence the best of both worlds.

Torbreck is named after a forest in Scotland where winemaker David Powell once worked as a lumberjack.

1y 6m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  4 wines 

“Jeff Grosset about 2002 and 2012 vintages– “2002 was a cool year early, making the season later than normal but then from mid-February it was warm (but not hot, so no heat wave conditions) and even weather conditions, pretty much ideal. The nights were cooler than average maintaining higher acidities. That is why often it is quoted as cool but sometimes moderate and relatively dry - depends which end you look at as March and April were thankfully warmer than average.
It was late and so sometimes the wines seemed a little Sauvignon Blanc-ish as in perfumed, lifted and powerful in flavour but not generous early (as in not generous in weight). In that respect 2012, for example, is a more ‘typical’ year than 2002 but the relatively lean palates with perfume and backbone or structure in 2002 made everyone confident that it was a year to put down. 2012 by comparison is a ‘put down or drink’ year in my view.
I like 2012 and years like it. These show what can be done in typical heat years, thereby challenging the theory that the cool years are always the best. They can be stand-outs like 2002. It always depends on how they unfold. Cool on its own is not necessarily a positive. The joys of primary production; if only it were that simple we could all just move to Tasmania, but it’s not.”

1y 9m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  18 wines 

“Musar 1960/ The 1960 was the first vintage made with new philosophy brought by Serge Hochar to the wine making process: no additives, no fining, no treatment and no filtration applied to the wines.
This forty-year old bottle looked like new, and had excellent by the neck level. Very dark, and deep, mature-looking appearance. Sound and clean bouquet with wonderful scented flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry fruit. Surprisingly full-bodied and complex wine. Still very sweet on the palate with soft, melted tannins and has a long and lingering, smooth aftertaste – Vau, this one was a lot enhanced and more youthful than the previous two bottles I have tasted. The old saying “there are no great wines, only great bottles” rings a bell again! For me Chateau Musar is the best wine of the 1960 vintage. Grand effort Serge! 92 points

2y 5m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  45 wines 

“My results from the Fine 'Best of Australia' competition (still to add the William Downie Pinot to the system). A fascinating event and huge thanks to Pekka for instigating it. Look for the full story in a forthcooming isssue of the magazine.”

4y 1m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Grosset Wines . In a tasting of  13 wines 

“From one of the very best Coonawarra producers, this is always fabulous value. 2006 was a tough act to follow but the latest offers a mix of flavours including old leather, dark berries and black jelly beans. A joy.”

4y 9m ago

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