The BK Wines 2015 Rosé, a top 10 placegetter in Hot 100 Wines SA, is the result of wish-fulfillment.
What do you do if no-one local is making a particular style of a wine that you like to drink? Ordinary folk like you or me might moan a bit, or simply resign ourselves. If, on the other hand, you’re a winemaker, you can always make it for yourself.
The BK Wines 2015 Rosé, a top 10 place-getter in Hot 100 Wines SA, is the result of just such wish-fulfillment. In 2009, BK proprietor and winemaker Brendon Keys, who has done more than a bit of overseas drinking in his time, had a hankering for the Rosé style he knew from Provence, where tipplers of both sexes consume the pale pink stuff in profligate quantities during the warmer months.
To achieve an authentic local version, Keys opted for a classic grape variety made in the classic style: his Rosé employed the traditional saignée (‘bleeding’) technique, diverting a portion of the juice from his Pinot Noir ferment, but allowing it just enough time to pick up a delicate hint of skin colour. The method also has the benefit of concentrating the main Pinot Noir wine by increasing its skin-to-juice ratio: “Essentially it’s making use of a beautiful by-product,” Keys says.
With 100 percent wild yeast fermentation and four months on lees in the barrel to add complexity, the deed was done. The result, he says, is a wine that is “beautifully aromatic, with a really tight and dry finish, and textural. Serve it cold on a hot day and it’s what everybody wants.” Subsequent vintages have proved Keys right about a wider thirst for the Provencal style.
While the first vintage comprised only 300 bottles, production has since risen to 500 cases, and it sells out every year. Keys says the growing Australian winemaking interest in Rosé has brought a multiplicity of styles and grape varieties, with aficionados growing in number yet also spoiled for choice. “It comes in every colour in the spectrum, and every grape variety too,” he says.
Keys, whose eclectic career led him variously to Europe, both Americas and New Zealand, has now taken firm root in the Adelaide Hills. He lives with wife and winery partner Kirstyn in Basket Range, sequestered among the state’s battery of natural winemakers, while his winery is just a few miles north, near Lenswood. Nearly all of the fruit he uses is grown between the two locations, with the exception of a few choice tonnes of red grapes that he takes from vineyards in McLaren Vale.
Keys initially spent a good deal of his time in the Hills making wine for other people – he made the Hot 100-winning Lofty Valley Pinot Noir for vigneron Brian Gilbert two years ago – but is increasingly preoccupied by his own operation, a situation he relishes. Making his own wine gives him greater freedom to experiment and “to push the box”, he says. Keys reports a high success rate with his winemaking experiments to date, but admits one foray he will not revisit was his attempt to make cider.
The result, he says, was 300 litres of apple cider vinegar. “But at least I did manage to sell it.” His McLaren Vale grapes have been made into single varietal wines until this year, when the latest Keys experiment sees him take his first stab at making Mourvedre, with the release of a Mourvedre-Shiraz- Grenache: “It’ll be cool to see what people think of it.” Like the other BK wines, the MSG will be sold under the bold, retro-feel labels that Keys, a lover of vinyl LPs, commissioned from a UK record label designer.
Lack of inhibition, it seems, is integral to the BK business plan. “My nature is I want to find out, I want to see something new, or try something – I’ll hear of a wine or taste a wine and think ‘I’d love to try that here’.” Chances are he will.
BK Wines, Rosé 2015 bkwines.com.au