Illawarra Mercury

Putting the boot in

Author: with KERRY SKINNER
Date: 09/06/2012
Words: 472
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Weekender
Page: 20
When it comes to winemaking, Stuart Olsen likes to put his foot in it.

The Mudgee winemaker is a keen exponent of the ancient art of foot treading whereby winemakers crush their harvest using their feet.

It's a tradition that's been around since the beginning of winemaking and according to the purists it helps to produce highly perfumed wines.

Olsen, a qualified scientist, is a traditionalist in the true sense and apart from a few tanks and barrels he has very little machinery or modern equipment in his winery.

He has no formal winemaking training, having learned his craft at Torbreck, Crillo Estate, Mudgee's Lowe Family Wines and on his travels throughout Europe.

"In the vineyard I rely heavily on the taste of the berries to determine when to pick," Olsen says.

" After I dropped and broke my refractometer in 2009, I went back to what I had learnt in my travels - the ripeness of the fruit is all about seed ripeness, along with soft tannins. This has since become the backbone to harvesting my fruit. I spend a lot of my time in the vineyards tasting the seeds, and even the stems, in the lead up to harvest."

Olsen works on the philosophy that Mudgee reds need longer, cooler ferments and has recently released two new wines under his Eloquesta label, one each from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Both are blends of shiraz, petit verdot and viognier and both wines received three days of foot treading treatment before maturation on champagne lees in a combination of French, Hungarian and Russian oak in a refrigerated shipping container.

(Eloquesta wines are available through Stuart Olsen at

Eloquesta 2009 Mudgee Shiraz Petit Verdot $28: Ex-scientist Stuart Olsen is not your conventional winemaker and uses the 'sur-lie' method of maturation on champagne yeast in a combination of French, Hungarian and Russian oak. Intriguing wine, soft and supple , cherry and berry, integrated spice, lovely balance.

Shaw Vineyard Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon $25: Graeme Shaw and his family run an impressive outfit at Murrumbateman near Canberra where they have 34ha under vine. Nicely weighted, cool climate cabernet with intense black fruit on the nose and palate, choc-mint characters, juicy tannins and plenty of length.

Grant Burge 2010 Filsell Old Vine Shiraz $39.95: The quintessential Barossa Valley shiraz, winning trophies or gold medals every year for the past decade. From the outstanding 2010 vintage it is right on song, bold and brassy with lashings of black and red fruit that melds seamlessly with the oak, sweetish spice, chocolate characters and supple tannins.

Lillypilly Estate Tramillon $13.50: This tried and tested table wine blend won the Royal Sydney Wine Show's trophy for best NSW white wine almost 30 years ago. Crafted from gewurztraminer and semillon it's fragrant and refreshing with musky notes on the nose, sweetish citrus fruit flavours, bright acidity and a clean finish.

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