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The Islander Estate Vineyards

News & Reviews

We love sharing our wines and our favourite parts of our beautiful Kangaroo Island.  Our blog shares our team's favourite ways to get the most from your visit when you're exploring Kangaroo Island.  And of course we like to share the latest news and wine reviews with you too!

Cath Williams
 
27 May 2021 | Cath Williams

Close up on Chardonnay

May 27th is International Chardonnay Day.
It’s the most widely planted white grape variety in the world.  And its time has come around again.  So, let’s get reacquainted with Chardonnay.

Chardonnay’s Origins

Chardonnay’s birthplace is the Burgundy region of France, in a small village of the same name.  Chardon being the French name for a thistle, chardonnay’s name originates from “place of thistles”.  Believed to be from the Noirien family of grapes, chardonnay is descended from Pinot Noir and the ancient variety Gouais Blanc.

In Burgundy, where chardonnay is known simply as white Burgundy, it is the most prized white grape variety, seen as truly capturing the region’s incredible terroir. Although it originated in France, chardonnay is now grown in almost every wine region on Earth, mostly because of its ability to adapt to different environments and grow almost anywhere.

Chardonnay down under

Chardonnay was first bought to Australia by James Busby (widely known as the ‘father of Australian wine’) who planted the first cuttings to Australia in the 1830s.  It didn’t become a core Australian variety for almost a hundred years, but by the 1980’s chardonnay became on of the most recognised Australian white wine varieties; flourishing in our climate and mainly produced in robust, rich, ripe and buttery styles.

Over the next several decades Australian wine consumers palates changed as they moved towards the zesty, higher acidity alternatives like Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Australian winemakers began to adapt, taking advantage of chardonnay's ability to take on many different characters guided by the winemaker’s technique. 

Today chardonnay accounts for more than half of Australia’s white wine production, having a renaissance in a more lighter style closer to the Chablis style of France. This contemporary style has inspired The Islander Estate Vineyard’s The White Chardonnay.

Chablis Style Chardonnay

Located in the Burgundy region of France (also famous for Pinot Noir), the Chablis appellation lies in the north, alongside the River Serein with the best vineyards planted along the south facing slopes.  Chardonnay here is all about the terroir.

Forget all your preconceptions of oaky, buttery Chardonnay.  The Chablis style is entirely different, some say this style is the purest form of Chadonnay, fermented in steel, usually with little or no oak so the Chardonna grapes' taste and arome can shine.  The Chablis wine style is dry, lean, light-bodied with higher acidity and green apple, citrus and minteral notes.

At our Tasting Room two of our most common guests comments are "I don't usually really like chardonnay but this is really nice" or "Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to white wine, but this is really delicious". 

Are you a champagne lover? Then you'll like Chardonnay. 

Chardonnay is the main component of most champagne’s (blended with its mother variety, Pinot Noir as it is in our Petiyante sparkling).  And if you’re a fan of Blanc de Blancs you’re drinking a champagne made entirely of chardonnay.

Chardonnay’s food companions

Our The White Chardonnay is designed for everyday drinking, we think it makes a phenomenal sunset glass of wine with friends or with a simple soft cheese, but there are loads of cool weather matches with chardonnay.  Simply, chardonnay prefers subtle spices and creamy or buttery flavours with seafood, chicken or even port. Try it with a few of these classic Autumn dishes:

Vegetable Risotto
Classic Roast Chicken
Garlic Prawns Vegetable Soups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drink now or wait?

Contemporary unoaked styles just like our The White Chardonnay is made in an everyday drink now style but can happily hang out in your wine rack for two years.  More heavily oaked examples offer more cellaring potential.

Get intimate with Islander Estate The White Chardonnay

Priced for everyday drinking, now is great time to get your hands on The White.  Order a case, pay for 11 and we'll add the 12th on us.  Click on the image below to add some to your shopping cart now.

Cath Williams
 
7 May 2021 | Cath Williams

Take a fresh look at Sauvignon Blanc

One of the comments we hear most often at our Tasting Room is "wow, I've never tasted a Sauvignon Blanc like this". 

With its huge rise in popularity in recent years, all Australian white wine drinkers have included Sauvignon Blanc in their wine repertoire.  But we think there's lots more to learn about this variety that can produce such varied characteristics.  Here's some new facts about one of our favourite varieties:
  1. It’s no new kid on the wine-block.  Sauvignon Blanc originated in France in the 1500’s the Loire Valley & Jacque Lurton’s native Bordeaux where is features in famous wines like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
     
  2. Sauvignon Blanc has a wild side.  Its name comes from the French words ‘sauvage’ meaning wild and ‘blanc’ that meaning white.
     
  3. Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux is most known as a major player in the sweet wine Sauternes.
     
  4. Bordeaux’s most famous white blend, Bordeaux Blanc, pairs Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc in the world’s original Sem-Sauv-Blanc blends.
     
  5. Believe it or not Sauvignon Blanc is the mother of the robust tannic red wine variety Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Franc is the father).
     
  6. Sauvignon Blanc grows best in cool or maritime climates (both Bordeaux & Kangaroo Island feature maritime climates) where long even growing conditions balance its crisp acidity with fresh fruit character. 
     
  7. Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first varieties to be described in terms of one of its dominant flavour compounds, methoxypyrazines. This compound is responsible for the Sauvignon Blanc’s herbaceous nature, including characters like asparagus, cut grass, capsicum, dried herbs and gooseberries. Next time you taste wine with friends, drop this term!
     
  8. Not all Sauvignon Blancs are the same.  It can vary wildly based on where its grown & wine making techniques, so try a wide range of regions & styles.
     
  9. It has an alias. Fumé Blanc –coined in California in the 1960s and popularized by Robert Mondavi. Fumé Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc. Sometimes it is aged in oak, giving it smoky  notes (fumé means smoke), but it is not required that it be aged in oak.
     
  10. Looking for foods that pair beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc?  Easy, if the dish would be enhanced by a squeeze of lemon, you’ll be on a winner serving them together.

We have very limited quantities of our 2019 Sauvignon Blanc left online & at our Tasting Room, order yours now:

Yale Norris
 
17 April 2021 | Yale Norris

Demystifying Malbec

Let's get intimate with stunning Malbec

Malbec's Provenance

Malbec originated in Jacques' native Bordeaux (and also Cahors) where it primarily played a bit-part in classic Bordeaux blends, never really getting the chance to shine in the spotlight in France.  In the late-19th century, phylloxera nearly destroyed the Malbec wine business. The vines eventually recovered, before being later hit by the deadly frosts in the mid-1950s. The variety struggled to return in France until the mid 1970's.

Luckily then, that a French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget had introduced the variety South America in the mid-1800's, where the variety found its day in the sun in the hot high-altitude Argentinian climate around Mendoza.  Malbec finally found its place centre stage as a single varietal, becoming the shining star of Argentinian wine. 

In modern day wine, Malbec has travelled all over the world, but Argentina still produces 75% of the world's Malbec & Cahors in France’s south-west the second largest producer. 

It found its way to Australia in 1860 where is grows particularly well in South Australia, production is still selective, Malbec represents less than 0.5% of Aussie grape and wine production.  In Australia Malbec’s beginnings were as a blending grape, these days a small but growing number of producers are taking inspiration from South America and showing Malbec’s potential as a single varietal.

A Malbec love affair spanning 3 continents

Jacques Lurton’s relationship with Malbec began in his native France where the variety originated, the love affair really took off when he spent extensive time in South America establishing vineyards in partnership with his brother Francois in Argentina & Chile, experiencing Malbec as the powerhouse of the wine industry there.

As a flying winemaker, he had also spent time in Austalia, seeing how well the variety transferred from the hot high-latitude climate of Argentina to South Australia’s moderate Mediterranean climate.  When Jacques set up his own Australian business, The Islander Estate Vineyards on Kangaroo Island he had it planted to use as a blending wine with flagship varieties. 

Those plans changed from almost the first vintage, when the quality of his Malbec on Kangaroo Island impressed Jacques so much, he saw it deserved to shine on its own. The Majestic Plough was born as the region’s only single variety Malbec.

The quality continued increase vintage to vintage.  Jacques was determined to show the true potential of Malbec on Kangaroo Island, so in 2015 The Islander Estate's flagship wine range was joined by The Independence Malbec – rated as one of the country’s best single variety Malbecs (96 points James Halliday's 2021 Wine Companion). 

The Islander Estate Vineyards is the only winery commercially producing Malbec on Kangaroo Island.

So, what's so special about Malbec anyway?

Often considered as an alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, Malbec is a powerhouse wine in its own accord, the most structured and tannic wine we produce on Kangaroo Island.

Malbec is a thick-skinned, purple grape variety with an inky red hue.  On Kangaroo Island the vines are low yielding and always the first red variety to be picked at vintage.

In the glass, it has an intense deep red colour, magenta-tinged at the rim.  On the nose you’ll find savoury aromas of leather, tobacco, blackberry, dried herbs and spices with plenty of toasty oak.

In the mouth expect big, juicy and plush flavours of dark fruit with a robust structure and moderately firm tannins with natural acidity and a longer finish than you expect from overseas examples.

Malbec’s best food friends

Malbec loves a lean protein like a good quality steak barbecued over coals (even better with a herb or chimichurri sauce on the side), roast lamb with robust stuffing, roast game like duck or pheasant. 

It also loves hard or blue cheeses and sits beautifully alongside charcuterie.

Drink now or wait?

Malbec has great cellaring potential 15+ years if you have the patience!

 

Get up close The Islander Estate’s Malbec

The Independence Malbec from our Flagship range has just been rated as one of the best in the country by James Halliday with a 96pt rating in the 2020 Wine Companion.  Pop this one away and try not to think about it for a few years – it will pay off.

Our Estate Range Majestic Plough Malbec has a huge following. While it's sold out for now due to the impact on our Malbec vines in the 2020 bushfires, jump onto our mailing list to be the first to get your hands on our 2021 vintage Majestic Plough.

Cath Williams
 
21 May 2020 | Cath Williams

What's (So Far) So Good about preservative free wines?

Every day in our Tasting Room we chat to guests interested in our preservative free wines.  These days we’re all a little more aware of ensuring we know what’s in our food and wine, so join us for a closer look at preservative free wine.

Why make a preservative free range?

Our owner Jacques Lurton introduced the SoFar SoGood range around 4 years ago.  After he found himself developing a reaction to the sulphites we find in many everyday foods and drinks.  Chatting to friends and customers, he identified a growing trend in seeking out products with less preservatives and decided that his vineyard on Kangaroo Island was the ideal place to trial a no-added preservative wine range.

What is preservative free wine?

A small amount sulphur dioxide is released naturally by the grapes during fermentation (nature’s own preservative) so all wine contains trace amounts of naturally produced preservative.

Wines labelled preservative free mean the winemaker has not added any preservatives during the winemaking process.

What preservatives are added to wine?

Wines generally contained sulphur dioxide (SO2), or you may see “sulphites added” on the label, this can mean S02 or HS03 (bisulphites) and H2SO3 (sulphurous acid).  In Australia strict restrictions on the amount of sulphites are in place and where they exist in the wine labelling laws require it to be declared.  This is not the case with wines from many countries outside Australia.

You will find these same preservatives in higher concentrations in many supermarket products including dried fruit, jams, candy, processed meats and many packaged foods.  So if you react to these foods it may be an indication of a sulphite sensitivity.

Why are they used?

Sulphites have been used in wine since the early 1900s to help preserve the wine and slow down the deterioration process.  It is used to get the wine into the bottle and to the drinker in the best condition.

Generally low or preservative free wines require pristine grapes in the best possible condition, handled carefully in the winery.  Less faults with the grapes mean less (or no) sulphites are required.

Do Sulphites give you a headache?

Lots of guests our feel they can drink more of our preservative free wines without getting a hangover. Science indicates this is not the case but people with asthma are thought to be more likely to have a sulphite sensitivity and if you feel you react to any of other foods listed above it may be worthwhile giving a preservative free wine a try.

What’s different about how we make preservative free wine?

The goal in producing preservative free wines is to use the utmost care and keep intervention to a minimum.  For our SoFar SoGood range, nature does much of the winemaking with the winemaker playing supervisor.

The first step is to start with pristine grapes free of disease or bird damage.  Then the grapes are handled carefully in the winery, kept cool and away from air as much as possible.

At The Islander Estate Vineyard, we pick by hand, destem and send the wine to tanks for ferment (by wild yeast for our Shiraz).  We use temperature control and soft extraction during ferment phase, pressing the skins off early.

As soon as fermentation is complete, the wine is clarified, filtered and into the bottle within around 8 weeks of picking (even earlier for our preservative free Sauvignon Blanc).

Our SoFar SoGood range is designed to be enjoyed young as are most preservative free wines. 

How are preservative free wines different to drink?

Because of the minimal intervention approach, we find our preservative free wines tend to tell a pure story of the fruit and vineyard.  They are easy drinking, vibrant and packed with fruit flavours.

As well as people with sulphite allergies, we find the SoFar SoGood range appeals to wine lovers who enjoy fruit forward and well balanced but less tannic or structured wines (think Pinot Noir or Merlot lovers). 

Why not try our 2019 SoFar SoGood preservative free range?

 

Cath Williams
 
1 February 2019 | Cath Williams

A Year In The Vineyard

September/October:  Inflorescence – Also known as 'Budburst' signals the official start of the new growing season.

November:  Floraison – the buds begin to flower before producing tiny bunches.

Late November/December: Fruit set – now we begin to get a good idea of bunch development and quality on the vine with an insight into how vintage may shape up if the god’s are kind.

Late January: ‘Veraison' – the beginning of ripening where berries turn from green and begin to turn purple, red and golden.  A tipping point when the vine begins to focus its energy on development sweetness in the grapes.

March to May: Harvest! Can begin from late February but most often in March. We will pick for six to eight weeks, checking the vineyard daily and hand-picking only what is perfectly ready. From early May, the focus of the winemaking crew turns away from the vineyard and into the winery.

June - September: Even as the grapes are harvested, the green foliage begins the yellow and leaves drop. As the weather turns cold, the vine withdraws its energy to the roots and returns to their dormant state. The vineyard slows but doesn’t stop as our pruning crew methodically work their way through the vineyard hand-pruning.