Current Issue #487

Hot 100 Wines:
Turon Wines gets off to a flying start

Turon Wines 2018 Pinot Noir

Having a distinctive first name that you can adopt as a wine brand can come in handy, especially when using your surname would render you vinously invisible. Just ask Turon White.

Turon Wines has been hard to miss in the past couple of years. Its 2018 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir starred in the most recent Hot 100 SA Wines, adding to the fillip of the winery’s selection as one of Australia’s three best new wineries in James Halliday’s 2019 big fat wine guide.

Turon Wines began in 2013, while the Lenswood winery (read: commodious tin shed) that houses the small-scale enterprise dates back only to 2017.

As proprietor and winemaker, Turon White is very much wedded to cool climate winemaking and is a vocal advocate for the quality and distinctive character of Adelaide Hills-grown wine. Not that he treats the Hills as a catch-all, homogenous locale: he is fascinated by the nuances that the region’s diverse terroirs and microclimates confer on their grapes.

“We built our winery in Lenswood with the primary focus of looking at what the subregions of the Hills do particularly well, but looking in particular at cooler pockets of pinot and chardonnay, and at doing ‘syrah’ in the Rhone style, medium-bodied and spicy,” he says.

The planting of estate vineyards around the winery remains a work in progress. “We didn’t want to rush into it; you’ve got to take your time and do it right.”

Turon Wines currently sources its pinot noir fruit from established neighbouring growers in Lenswood and from the Piccadilly Valley, a few kilometres to the south.

“I’m focusing on the higher, cooler parts – I think that’s where pinot especially excels,” White says. “The fruit has good natural acidity and very bright, vibrant fruit characters, which are something I enjoy making and drinking. I’ve been working very hard on making wines that are really elegant, but which also have that structure, colour and depth of flavour to them.”

The 2018 pinot certainly hit all the marks for the Hot 100 judges, who praised the wine for its balance between red berries and savoury elements, as well as for its “robust fruit weight and velvety tannins”.

After finishing his degree in oenology, White took off for foreign parts, working vintages in Oregon (a world-renowned pinot noir region) in the US and also in Hungary. He says there’s a big learning curve in handling different fruit between Oregon and the Adelaide Hills, between the Adelaide Hills and the Yarra Valley and, for that matter, between your own vineyard and the one over the ridge. “You can’t copy your neighbours; you’ve got to work it out for yourself because there’s always differences in circumstances from vineyard to vineyard,” he says.

“I think clones are the biggest thing – working out what works for your specific site and what works well within the region,” White says, although viticultural practices also loom large.

“I’ve been knuckling down and working with one grower, getting cropping levels down. It’s a really good clone in a really good spot, and I’m seeing the wine get better and better every year. Pinot is one of the most challenging wines to make and make well. That also makes it one of the most rewarding wines when you make a pinot that you’re really proud of and happy with.”

Last December’s bushfires came wafer-close to obliterating the winery, and while the building was successfully defended by the CFS, the old apple and cherry orchards and a stand of pine forest on the property were charred. The clean-up continues, but, on the upside, a new vineyard of pinot noir has been planted. To make a 2020 vintage possible, friends and contacts rallied round with offers of fruit to replace grapes from growers whose vines had been burned or damaged by smoke.

“We’ve made about half of what we wanted to, but the wines we’ve got are looking really good,” White says. “2020 – bushfires aside – has been a really good vintage with some good quality fruit,” White says.

“We’ve been very lucky. We built our winery in Lenswood with the primary focus of looking at what the subregions of the Hills do particularly well, but looking in particular at cooler pockets of pinot and chardonnay, and at doing ‘syrah’ in the Rhone style, medium-bodied and spicy.”

Dave Brookes

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