Bailey Williamson: Show Notes Episode 24
April 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
After meeting the Queen, what do you do? Well for Bailey Williamson, winemaker at Blue Grouse Wines, you become a chef, then get your start in the wine business working vintage in the Barossa Valley of Australia.
What you will notice when you listen to the show (click here for link to podcast version) is how curious and learned Bailey is on all things that come together to impact the quality of the wine he grows and makes.
Prior to doing the show we had a great long chat that brought up so many fascinating topics that we could easily do 2 or 3 episodes. What follows is a summary of our on air discussion. Feel free to let us know what you think of the show and if you have any questions of Bailey or the Dork UnCorked by leaving them in the comments.
Segment 1 ~ Climate Change
Did you know that the Blue Grouse Winery has received 1 meter of rain since November 2015. That is in stark contrast to the Saanich Peninsula who has only received a fraction of that amount.
Climate change isn’t about year long averages, it is about extremes within the year. For instance the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage are extremely wet over the winter and extremely dry over the summer. A long dry summer is preferred to a wet one but the vines need some water at certain times in their annual cycle. For instance water is critical during verasion (time of ripening in the grape where the sugars start to develop; also the time when the grapes change colour. If a red wine grape, verasion is when the grape changes from green to red.). Not enough water and you don’t get sugar development, too much and you get a ton of foliage and the grapes develop too much sugar.
Segment 2 ~ 2015 Wines
I have said it before and I will say it again that I am very excited to taste the wines of the 2015 vintage no matter where they come from. 2015 is unique in that it is universally seen as one of the best vintages in recent memory. The truth to that is only found in tasting.
Recently Bailey bottled the 2015 Quill Rosé and the 2015 Estate Pinot Gris, both of which will be available for release in about 4-6 weeks. He also bottled the 2014 Pinot Noirs but that will be for another show that I’m thinking about… Island Pinots – what do you think?
The 2015’s are looking solid and full of flavour, but just out of interest the 2014 Quill Rosé is tasting at it’s best right now, yet there are only a few cases still floating around. That is the cruel reality of wine. Often when a wine is at its best is when it is hardest to find.
Segment 3 ~ Unique Wines
The new tasting room and winery at Blue Grouse opened last year and by all accounts is well worth a visit. What is interesting is that what sells most out of the tasting room is not what sells most out of a retail outlet or off a wine list.
Ortega, Siegerrebe (or as Bailey calls it a the winery Sieg), Bacchus and Muller Thurgau are not household names and, unless a person is already familiar with them, sit on the shelves in a retail store in deference to items like Pinot Gris. But in the tasting room these are big sellers.
Ortega and Siegerrebe are hybrids created for climates like ours here on the island. They don’t require the same amount of heat or length of growing season to get ripe as do grapes like Chardonnay, Merlot, or Sauvignon Blanc. When you taste wines from grapes that are best suited to an area you can tell. They are vibrant, lively and delicious.
Segment 4 ~ Terroir
Recently Bailey and his colleagues enjoyed tasting Dr. Elizabeth Tomasino from Oregon State University (on the air we mention the Ducks but this was wrong, its the Oregon State Beavers). What became interesting was the discussion surrounding what is actually terroir (the concept that the combination of a particular region’s climate, geography, culture, and foods, create a unique flavour in a wine) and what is microbiology, or part of the winemaking process. The result was that we too often default to ‘terroir’ where the difference is actually made by the winemaker in the winery.
I put Bailey on spot by asking him what two wines that he has made, should everyone try? To get the answers you will have to listen to the show (click here for podcast).
Best Buys of the Week
This week we have two. First is the Quill 2014 Rosé, which although in short supply, is tasting at it’s peak.
Second is the L’Ostal Caze 2015 Rosé, absolutely stunning for its delicacy and finesse. Beautiful on a spring day.
the Dork UnCorked