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Launching Wine Decoded!

11 Mar

Wine Decoded Home Screen

Filthy Good Vino is simply not enough for us!

We’ve launched WINE DECODED to fully satisfy our wine gland!

We’re Building the Ultimate Wine Playground!

Because Yumminess Has No Limits!

Check out Wine Decoded Now!

*Get $20 off your first order! Use the Coupon “Bring Me Wine” at checkout!

Wanna talk Vino? Call us on 1300 811 066

An Afternoon with Gaia Gaja

4 Dec

An Afternoon with Gaia Gaja 2015

Finally I’ve managed to share my thoughts on a very special & intimate afternoon with Gaia Gaja at Boccaccio Cellars earlier this year. A big shout out to Anthony D’Anna for organising such a delicious event and Gaia Gaja for being such a human hostess.

An Afternoon with Gaia Gaja 2015

Gaja is at once both one of the world’s wine icons and a controversial winery bucking “traditional wisdom” often being the trend setter rather than the follower.  For me, it’s a sign that the Gaja’s have passion, focus, and, that they are pushing the boundaries.

Over the last six months I’ve drunk Gaja’s wines from over 5 decades of production. One thing has been clear, they are evolving and pushing to make the best wines they can. This evolution has not been insulated from changes in the wine world. Historically, across the world’s greatest wine regions, think Barolo, Barbaresco, Burgundy, Tuscany, traditional winemaking has been interrupted by curiosity with the potential of new world winemaking techniques. Gaja has not been immune from this trend, use of high levels of new oak has being the most obvious example. Something I’m glad to say has been tempered in recent times.


Gaja has a long history stretching back to it’s very beginnings in 1859. The transformation from an largely unknown winery in a region, not valued by consumers to one of the worlds most famous wineries in a very special region certainly didn’t happen overnight.

Gaia Gaja shared with us the history of Barbaresco, the Gaja winery, the challenge of establishing recognition for the region and what the future holds. One thing is certain, the Gaja’s aren’t afraid of pushing against the rules, some rules are meant to be broken. They have had to declassify their Barbaresco from DOCG status simply because the rules don’t fit what they believe is the best way to make their wine. With a nifty slight of tongue, Gaia, refers to this as a reclassification. A simple example being that they tend to pick early before the permitted time for a DOCG to pick. Why because higher vine density, lower yield per vine, flavour ripeness earlier, better natural acid etc. If they waited they could have DOCG, but, they would not be giving their fruit the best opportunity to shine.

Below is a 20 minute video exert from the discussion.

What Separates Exceptional Wineries?

When you look at the great wine producers of the world they often have many things in common. Two of those being passion and continuity.

Passion just makes sense. Continuity well that’s a challenge. Good vignerons are always looking at their wines and vineyards, trying to make them yummier, healthier, more balanced, often by doing less, but, doing it better. Having the knowledge of the past, interrogating trends to find often simple ways to improve is critical. Seeing a vineyard in a cool years, hot years, observing the little patch of vineyard that is not performing and nurturing it. Some wineries employ precision agriculture with high tech imaging of vineyards, others, the eyes of trusted colleagues who have worked with them for decades. These eyes come to know each site, each vine and tend to them like they would a child. This philosophy has given them an intimate understanding of their terroir.

This is precisely the reason Gaja only employ permanent staff. Like many of the world’s great estates Gaja shifted from buying fruit to supplement production to buying and controlling great sites. In the early years as the Gaja Estate expanded, they were forced to purchase old run down houses with vineyards. Over time these have been restored and are now offered rent free to their staff. One of Gaja's Staff Houses Offered Rent Free

The Challenges for the Future

There’s one trend that everyone in the wine world has had to address recently. Every time I catch up with a grape grower or winemaker I always ask what are you working on. Increasingly the response is “Managing climate change”.

Gaia explains the impact of climate change as helping them achieve greater consistency from year to year. The challenge being resultant higher alcohol and pH, with lower acids, fuller riper wines. Now instead of worrying about getting fruit ripe, they worry about sugar accumulation racing ahead of flavour and tannin development producing out of balance wine. On the upside it has opened up opportunities, the grape bunch stalks are now ripening allowing their incorporation into wine, adding tannin, spice and perfume.

The focus has been on rebalancing in the vineyard to meet this challenge. They’ve put money behind their beliefs and are adapting to change by experimenting. They’ve hired half a entomologists (insect gurus) & horticulturist (plant gurus and more) seeking to disrupt their thinking. Not necessarily taking direction from them, but, pushing themselves to use this knowledge combined with their wisdom, gleaned from over 150 years of tending the land to develop their own approach.

Biodiversity – Flowers, Bees, Trees

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Looking after soil health, moisture levels and temperature.

They have replaced direct fertilising using manures, with composting. Composting stalks, vine cuttings, used grape skins and manures allows the worms they’ve imported from America to further process organic waste and add nutrients through their microflora. An approach that has been used world wide with success. Just like your very own garden they’re mulching to cover crops to insulate the soil from the heat of the sun and retain moisture.

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They’re looking to take a natural, yet, pragmatic. Considering technology, balanced with minimal intervention.  Perhaps one of the most radical changes at least in terms of effort has been changing the row orientation at some sites in order to reduce direct impact of sun on the vines.

Nebbiolo Rossato – Not Nebbiolo.


My lasting though was that it takes for a vigneron to understand their sites. Sometimes it takes just as long to convince the consumer of what the vigneron is trying to achieve.

A couple of Wines from the Session

Gaja Wine Tasting at Boccaccio Cellars by Paul Kaan

Costa Rusi had a real elegance vs the masculine Sori Tilden masculinity. Again highlighting the difference small differences in vineyard location can make to the personality of a wine. Both sites are in the image below. Sori Tildin top right. Costa Rusi lower left.

Gaja Vineyards Sori Tildin Costa Rusi Barbaresco Italy

Next Up: Roberto Voerzio

A bit of Rhône on the bench over the last week!

19 Jul

Chateau Pegau & Mont Redon Chateau Neuf du Papes 2012 by Paul Kaan

Two whites to kick off…

2013 Guigal Côtes du Rhône – Viognier, Roussane, Marsanne blend. Fun every day drinker with plenty of personality. Bargain for under $20 a tube.

2013 La Font du Vent Côtes du Rhône Viognier. Some succulent acid & spice with an edge of that oily texture typical of Viognier and resting beautifully in this wine. Lots of intrigue. Again great value at less than $20 a tube.

Overall lots of yumminess and plenty of bang for your buck!

Next up 3 x sub $20 Côte du Rhône Reds!

2011 Guigal Blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Grenache & 5% Mouvèrdre. Year in year out this is a great value wine, particularly given the volume they make. Insane that they manage to age it for 18 months in foundres (massive old oak barrels) and have an average vine age of 35years!

Mont-Redon 2012 Grenache, Syrah fun booze intriguing, layered, yummy!

Château Pégau 2012 Grenache, Syrah, Mouvèrdre Stepped it up with greater depth & a real lift. Bags of personality and a refined texture! Wine of the bracket.

Overall great value, complexity, yumminess. Get one of each and go back for the one you like.

Last up 2 x 2012 Châteauneuf du Papes!

Mont-Redon Little hit of new oak. Almost only density. Solid booze. Needs some time to settle into it’s skin and reveal full potential $65.

Pégau had an edge of the pox (brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast) it was at a level that you could say added to complexity. The challenge being that it could dominate more over time. Some great fruit and texture behind it. $120.

Keep on the Rhône theme with a Rhône inspired red.

Yarra Yering Dry Red No2 a Shiraz Viognier Marsanne plus secret ingredients blend. A cheeky Dolcetto on the side.

YY Beautiful core of juicy fruit. A rawness that comes from not getting enough air time during oak ageing. May have been a result of the first time the winery has bottled under screw cap.

Benevelli Dolcetto an animal, well developed, a bit of animal. Serious structure that just asks for a bit of cow on your plate! Bargain at $25.

Making Wine is Just Like Raising Kids … You Gotta Put in the Time!

13 Jul

Racking the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernert 2015 by Paul Kaan

“Bon élévage”

The French use this term with reference to both wine and children! It translates to “A good upbringing” or “Being well raised”.

For kids this covers life before adult hood begins. For wine the period of time following the initial alcoholic fermentation right up until the point of bottling.

Every week I taste the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernet, just like every day I read my daughter, Genevieve, stories. I listen to the wine to see if it needs something from me. Sure I’ll look to see if there are problems, has it contracted Wine Flu AKA Brettanomyces or did the Flu Shot I gave it early in life help. Is it reduced, smelling of rotten egg gas? Is it oxidised, needing a sulphur addition?

More importantly I focus on the little things that I can do to help it grow up into a well rounded kid. After the last taste, I thought:

It needs to get out! It needed a little oxygen!

Why? To help the aromas and flavours develop, shift them away from primary fruity characters to more intriguing complex characters and allow the tannins to see a little air soften and lengthen.

So, it’s racking time …

Doing QC before racking the #FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Cabernet!

You can see a layer of pink lease at the bottom of the glass container at front.

Racking will take the clear wine from the top and we’ll get rid of tge sediment. It will introduce oxygen to help the wine develop & blend the new oak, old oak & glass stored components together.

If you’re interested in being a part of the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project let me know. We’ll be locking in fruit for next year shortly.

Here’s the lees from racking a glass storage vessel.

It’s mostly dead yeast & bacteria coloured by the wine. Depending on what wine you’re making you can choose to keep the lees with the wine to get flavour and texture fromthe autolysis, break down of the cells. Lees is “reductive” it chews up oxygen too and can help keep the wine fresh. One the best examples of the potential impact of lees is in the production of Champagne. After the second fermentation in bottle the wine is left in contact with the yeast lees. Over time as they break down the impart patisserie characteristics & a creamy mouthfeel. Same principles apply to white wines in barrel.

The #FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Cabernet is looking good and I perceive that it won’t benefit from further lees contact. Admittedly the wine has already been racked so most of the lees have already been removed.

Interestingly Gaia Gaja mentioned that they keep their lees and use them to top their barrels.

Syphoning off lees from our Demijon – Clear hose makes it easy to see if you’re sucking up the lees!

Racking the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernert 2015 by Paul Kaan

Squishing Time! Firing Up the Basket Press for the FGV Bathtub Cabernet

3 May

The Press Cake from the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project Makes a Great Birthday Cake by Paul Kaan

The first and only press for Vintage 2015 is done and dusted! The Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Cabernet was squished a few weeks ago, after 24 days on skins. The perfume and earthiness I was looking for have arrived. The texture has lengthened, developed beautifully and is looking good.

It’s been 10 years between Vintages. Winemaking again has brought delight and pleasure, not just for me, for everyone involved in the project. The garage has been lit up with smiles, laughter, shared magnums of Filth, just a whole lot of fun!

By the time this post is published the wine will be resting safely in barrel, to begin it’s long journey to the bottle.

The Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project will return in 2016!

We’ve had so much fun playing with grapes and friends that we could resist doing it all again. If you’re interested in joining us, hit me up via the Contact Page and I’ll get in touch when we start preparing for more action in the garage!

Check out the smiles, laughs and all the action from our day pressing! Read on to find out more about pressing.

Pressing is another chance to guide a wine.

How fast do you press?

How much pressure to you apply?

What machine do you use?

All of these factors can impact the extraction of particularly tannins from the skins and dramatically impact the texture of the final wine. Press too fast, too hard and you risk extracting bitter, hard tannins.

Taste is critical!

Wines separated into two basic components:

Free Run: The liquid you can drain out of the vat full of skins and seeds without doing any squashing.

Pressings: The liquid extracted by applying pressure to the grape skins using a press. Sometimes these are separated further into first and second pressings.

Throughout the pressing process we constantly taste the wine coming from the press. In the Yarra Valley the tannins tend to be pretty supple, particularly using a basket press. In general the pressings are mixed straight back into the free run. Ours went straight back in adding to the structure and texture of the wine & it’s overall yumminess!

In some regions tannins from pressings can be hard, sappy and bitter and need to be kept separate from the free run. Think McLaren Vale.

Vintage Lunch Went Back to Basics!

Fuel for the pressing of the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernet. 
Fish, chips, a dimmi & bottle of Chardonnay. Good Friday lunch break.

Fish, Chips, a dimmi and a bottle of Yarra Yering Chardonnay for Vintage 2015 Pressing Day

Another Ghetto Winemaking solution! Cable ties & duct tape are a winemaker’s best friends!

When G heard us saying the Cake looked amazing she assumed we meant birthday cake, not, cake from pressing the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Projects Cabernet. So we put a candle in it & sang happy birthday …. 4 times!

The Press Cake from the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project Makes a Great Birthday Cake by Paul Kaan