Lark Hill winemaker Chris Carpenter hosted a dinner at Bishop Sessa on Thursday March 8th and, by all accounts, it delivered in spades.The Carpenter family, owners of the Canberra District property since the mid 1970s, have been at the forefront of wine production in the area ever since. The winery's list of pioneering feats are too numerous for this short email but, without doubt, their biodynamic classification since 2006 rates highly among them. Yet, possibly the brightest feather in their cap is Australia's first Grüner
Veltliner. The Austrian varietal, which has gained so much traction in Australia in the last few years, eventually found its feet in the Lark Hill vineyard. Its appearance was due to a casual remark made by global wine industry doyen Jancis Robinson. Whilst visiting the winery in the early 2000's she noted the vineyard soils and aspects and inquired why the Carpenters weren't growing Grüner Veltliner. Chris Carpenter humbly recalls he was barely aware of the variety but, Jancis' word being what it is, took the advice very much to heart.
It turned out there were no Grüner vines available in Australia at the time (or so it seemed) until a Tasmanian nursery piped up about a couple of plants they had. Chris drove down, popped them in the back of the ute and the rest is history. The first vintage in 2009 produced less than 300 bottles but showed enough to confirm Jancis' insightful observations.
The Lark Hill Grüner Veltliner 2017 showed beautifully at the dinner, served in a bracket with the Lark Hill Riesling 2016 and paired with a bright, fresh scallop ceviche. Both wines revelled in the herbal/citrus accented dish. The Grüner displayed a searing acidity alongside opulent tropical fruit notes and a bold textured palate. This wine delivers on all fronts.
Chris' whistle-stop visit to Sydney in the middle of harvest to host this event was appreciated by all who attended. Quite possibly he was kept up later than expected by effusive and enchanted guests keen to discuss wine, bio-dynamics and life's generalities. Luckily Chris made it back to the vineyard in time to continue harvest and, at the time of writing, even found the opportunity to send us this image of 2018 Grüner Veltliner fruit straight from the vines (photo taken March 10, 2018).
Our wine notes from the night:
Lark Hill Riesling 2016 - Rich with integrated acidity, red/orange citrus notes, spice and long on the palate.
Lark Hill Grüner Veltliner 2017 - Boldly textured wine with sherbet and tropical fruit notes, a driving acid line and an almost pith like texture.
Lark Hill Mr V (marsanne, rousanne, viognier) 2015 - Chris Carpenter's food & wine match 'pick of the night', paired with grilled pork jowl. Full, round palate, generous creaminess with fresh stone fruit and white flowers.
Lark Hill Chardonnay 2016 - Not your average Chardonnay. Big flavours and that hallmark Lark Hill white wine texture. This is a wine to get both hands around. Chewy and full flavoured. Figs and melons.
Lark Hill Pinot Noir 2016 - Sweet spices throughout, the bouquet in particular has a warm clove richness. Dense in the mouth, dark cherries, rhubarb compote and some gentle peppery spiciness to finish.
Lark Hill Sangiovese 2017 - A lightly coloured wine with gentle tannins, flavours of cherries and smoked meats. Bright and breezy.
Lark Hill Shiraz Viognier 2015 - Less than 5% viognier in this fragrant peppery cool climate wine. Add to that plums, a little chocolate and some fine tannins and you start to understand why the region is famed for its particular Shiraz styles.
The Lark Hill portfolio of wines exhibits considered wine-making at its best. Chris Carpenter's outlook and sensibilities produce flavourful thought-provoking wines that never bow to convention and stand proudly as examples of their unique time and place.