Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Victoria, just outside the picturesque town of Beechworth, lays the SAVATERRE vineyard. The site was “discovered“ in 1996 by Keppell Smith, owner and winemaker, after an expansive search through Australia’s quality wine regions. The mild summer days, cool climate elevation combined with the rolling foothills of the Victorian Alps was the magic “terroir” combination sought by Keppell.
Intensely focused on the creation of outstanding, individualistic wines far removed from the mainstream, Keppell looks more to the wines, winemaking and viticulture of the Old World as his inspiration. Ranging from vineyard aspect through to the use of natural yeasts and the finest French barriques, he combines the art and the science of winemaking in his drive to produce the finest of wines.
The region itself is blessed with beautiful views, fantastic local produce, outstanding dining and of course the historic town of Beechworth. It has a growing wine presence and has recently been recognised as an independent wine region.
Our Vineyard is elevated at 440m (1440 feet) above sea level and is farmed along organic principles. No pesticides are used. The soil consists of ancient granitic “buckshot” over decomposed clay. These unique gravels are rich in minerals and provide excellent drainage whilst the clay provides some sustained water to the vines in summer. This ancient, poor soil naturally limits the cropping level to less than 4.5 tons per hectare.
The vines are close planted at 7500 vines per hectare. This allows the vine to carry a smaller crop and direct all its energies to producing intense flavours and wonderful textures - traits that are found primarily in only outstanding vineyards. This unique combination of soil, climate and viticulture provides SAVATERRE with intense fruit of the very highest quality. The grapes are hand picked in the cool of the autumn morning and transported to the winery which is next to the vineyard.
"On the charts with a bullet – this time next year, once the 2004 chardonnay in particular has been released, the rating could easily move even higher. This, it has to be said, is a spectacular vineyard with spectacular potential, and as the 2002 wines show, that potential is sheeting through with a clarity that is shattering. And it’s the vineyard that is doing it. The south-facing slope that fronts into the teeth of the Victorian Alps, the ancient rocky soils, the high altitude, the warm summers and the cold, cold nights. This is a dramatic landscape and the truth is that the wines are all about that: the vineyard was only planted in 1997, all chardonnay and pinot noir, but the near-cinematic quality of this site is already blindingly obvious. The potential of this place is limitless." Ranked 22 out of 25.
Our Winemaker and co-owner, Keppell Smith, has long had a passion for fine wine. After a few years spent in the money markets "fine tuning" this passion Keppell knew he needed to express this on a more fundamental level and his quest to find a site and become a winemaker was born.
Leaving the money markets Keppell roamed Australia looking for the perfect site whilst working with key figures in winemaking. In Beechworth, he wondered with such an icon of Australian wine, Giaconda, located here why there were not more vineyards. He figured the decomposed granitic loam soil, the microclimate of the region and vineyard aspect were key elements to creating a great wine.
After many months of talks with a local farmer, the SAVATERRE site was purchased and a vineyard planted in 1996. Keppell's winemaking technique is a minimalistic, hands-off approach. "It is all about the quality of the fruit from the fantastic site we have here at SAVATERRE." His approach to winemaking is in the tradition of the fine wines of Burgundy.
In the winery no yeasts are added to the basket pressed juice. "It is all up to wild yeast to start, maintain and finish the fermentation." Keppell particularly likes the layers of complexity a wild yeast fermentation and lengthy lees ageing adds to the wine. The wine spends a total of 18 months in personally imported French oak barriques and then 6 months in bottle before being released.
SAVATERRE Chardonnay is in Langton's Classification of Australian Wine and served in Emirates Airlines First Class.