Women Winemakers: Louisa Rose
When I first tasted Pewsey Vale Riesling I didn't realize that it was made by a woman. I saw this Eden Valley Riesling in one of my local wine stores and since I don't see wines from this cooler region of Australia very often, I didn't think twice about tossing it in
the bottom of the stroller my basket. Well, later that week I opened it up and immediately loved it. It wasn't until after we had finished most of the bottle and I got lip marks all over my glass, ruining the potential for a decent photograph, that I glanced at the back of the bottle and saw that the winemaker is Louisa Rose. Oh darn, I'm just going to have to purchase another bottle. The drastic things I do for this blog ;)
Let's talk about Australia. Chances are, when you think of Australian wine you might have some fleeting negative feelings. And you're not alone - I too am guilty of these thoughts lurking in the back of my mind. As Australian wine became a growing presence in the international market, some producers *cough, Yellowtail, cough* got a little too aggressive and began selling wine at low prices to make themselves competitive, often sacrificing quality if it was there to begin with. So, you can imagine how these producers pigeon-holed Australia into the inexpensive bulk wine category in the minds of consumers and the stigma stuck to the country like tannins to protein. If that joke made you chuckle, then you're my people. Anyhow, there are some really lovely wines coming out of Australia and sometimes we (including myself) need to be reminded of that.
Meet Louisa Rose, the winemaker at Pewsey Vale. She holds several recognitions, one of which is 2014 Australia's Greatest Winemaker. Louisa grew up in a family of grape growers in Australia's Yarra Valley and much like other winemakers I've featured, she went to college with other plans in mind. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Physics and imagined she'd become a science teacher. At some point, the wine bug bit her and she returned to school and studied winemaking in South Australia, graduating Dux, known as Valedictorian here in the US.
While attending college, Louisa worked as a cellar hand for one vintage at Yalumba and began working there full time after she graduated. In 2006 she became the Chief Winemaker. One of her stunning accomplishments at this highly regarded winery is bringing Viognier to Australia with success. Without going on too much of a tangent here, I'll briefly explain. Viognier is a Rhône Valley white grape variety and it needs just the right climate to give it a lengthy ripening time and it requires special care during winemaking. To do it well is impressive. To do it well in Australia is just plain awe-inspiring.
In tandem with being Chief Winemaker at Yalumba, Louisa has been making wines at Pewsey Vale for more than 20 years where she works with some really amazing Riesling. She holds the philosophy that "wine is made in the vineyard" and humbly attributes the beautiful Riesling coming from Pewsey Vale to the perfect pairing of the grape variety and vineyard site.
Not only does she hold down dual winemaker positions, but she is also Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute, an active member of wine industry councils and advisory boards, and is frequently a judge at wine shows. Can I get a collective "Dang, girl"? Louisa Rose is an absolute rockstar winemaker and while I have not had the opportunity to try Yalumba wines, I can attest to her skills evident in the Pewsey Vale Individual Vineyard Selection Dry Riesling.
I tasted the 2015 vintage of this wine and I found that it was very aromatic and flavorful, bursting with notes of green apple, both lemon and lime, peach, pear, and white flowers. It's a dry wine and the acidity is high, but well integrated and it has a nice long finish. It's so good that I can't stop buying it. Really. Every time it's in stock at one of my usual stores, I get it. If hubs is reading this - it's an excellent value at $15.99!
Next time you're in your local wine store, be sure to get something from Australia and rewire your brain with your palate. Extra points if it's Pewsey Vale or Yalumba!