With a nod to the electronic duo Daft Punk, the Chaffey Brothers’ Düfte Punkt blend is a storming success born from experimentation that landed itself a spot in our Hot 100 Wines of SA.
The late Lemmy Kilmister was a pioneer of heavy metal’s specious umlaut, and as his band Motörhead obligingly demonstrated, it became an accent that could land just about anywhere. It was all about visual style, not linguistics. The Chaffey Brothers know a thing or two about design too, and while they have a slightly Teutonic taste in nomenclature, they are very particular about their umlauts. They are also very particular about their grapes. Their choosiness has had some very happy results: a case in point is their three-way white blend, the Chaffey Brothers Wine Company’s 2015 Düfte Punkt, a top 10 place-getter in the Hot 100 Wines SA. The Chaffeys – winemakers Daniel Chaffey Hartwig and brother-in-law Theo Engela – have chosen a group of specialty growers in the Barossa and Eden valleys and harnessed them to the Tessellation series of white wines, in which Riesling looms large. Fruit for the Düfte Punkt comes courtesy of yet another set of brothers, the Fechners, vignerons of a large expanse of vineyard in what is technically the northern Eden Valley,just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Angaston. The Fechners, who are established suppliers to some very prestigious makers of red and white wines in the region, are a valued source of “intensely aromatic” Riesling to Chaffey Brothers Wine Co. While dual-variety white blends abound in Australia – a considerable chunk of Western Australia’s output is dedicated to Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc – triple blends are rarer beasts. None, to the best of my knowledge, has ever included a variety called Kerner, also known as Weisser Herold. The Fechners had stumbled on Kerner in the 1980s on a tour of Germany’s Riesling heartland, and they planted some in Eden Valley on their return, with clippings from vines they found at Swan Hill. The variety, a 1920s cross between Riesling and a red variety called Trollinger, is named after a wine-loving German poet and, says Hartwig, is textural and aromatic, but less acidic than Riesling. When the Fechners offered a batch of Kerner to the Chaffeys, the Riesling obsessives had to do some homework, eventually deciding to have a go at an approach based on wines made in Alsace. But where the Alsatians use Pinot Grigio for texture, the Chaffeys slotted in Kerner. “We thought we could make a tri-blend, with Reisling providing the tension and the line, and the Gewürz the heady aromatics, and Kerner the textural element,” Hartwig says. In the vineyard, the earlier ripening Gewürztraminer on the western hill-face is picked first, followed by the Riesling a week later and the Kerner a couple of days after that. The blend shows instant promise from the start of the winemaking process: “It jumps out of the glass, even when it’s a cloudy mess – it’s already luring you in,” Hartwig says.Initially the components were made separately and then blended, but in 2015 the juice from the three varieties was cold settled, combined and co-fermented in search of “a more intriguing” result. Hartwig says the uniqueness has piqued wider interest in Kerner, despite its minor role in the 40-40-20 blend. Even in the vat, he says, the wine stops other winemakers in their tracks. “It just one of those things you just sort of thank God for, and the grower for having the foresight to plant.” Unusual wines demand unusual names, and with Hartwig’s German-Polish background, some half-remembered high-school German and a bit of help from Google Translate, the Chaffeys came up with the teaming of düfte, meaning aromatic – “It also means neat or cool,” Hartwig says – and punkt, or point. Everything that comes off this vineyard is so aromatic, and that was what we were striving to describe – the aromatic point.” There is a deliberate nod to techno-pop duo Daft Punk too: “I like their music, and where they mish-mash music, we’ve mish-mashed a vineyard.” And got their umlauts right. Chaffey Bros Wine Co. Düfte Punkt 2015 chaffeybroswine.com.au