You would have to be living under some fine specimen of terra rossa soil not to know that one of the wines we are most well recognised for at Tulloch is our Verdelho.
Our customers love it and we sell loads of it, in a number of different guises. But, and this is a big old pain in my butt, for some reason the varietal lacks credibility and recognition by our peers. The question is why?
Unlike Chardonnay which met its demise care of Kath & Kim Read my Post on this topic here and anything containing Sav Blanc (whose popularity continues unabated despite its most recognised descriptor being Cat Piss, really?), Verdelho doesn’t seem to have offended anyone in particular, least of all wine drinkers, so why does it cop such a hard time?
People like it, it tastes good, it has an interesting history and its roots are firmly planted in peer accepted expressions like Madeira. Tulloch’s own beginnings with this varietal even have a great Aussie theme of failure and triumph, but still our peers mock.
So in you, our Verdelho lovers I trust, raise a glass and declare #VivaVerdelho!
Drink it with pride, spread the word and share the love of this truly drinkable white wine. Take back the power by choosing substance over farce, stand out amongst the crowd and proudly proclaim you will follow the cat piss trend no longer. Dare to be assertive and refuse to have your drinking preferences prescribed from those on high. Wine is to be enjoyed, and Verdelho in particular, has no greater purpose than to satisfy the drinker.
So next time you’re looking for a crowd pleasing smashable white wine, pick up a Verdelho and proclaim proudly VivaVerdelho!
For those interested here is the background of Verdelho. May I suggest imbibing said wine while digesting said history (according to my Dad). A proudly pragmatic man, who is not scared to give drinkers what they want instead of what he thinks they should have. Hear, hear JYT!
The Verdelho grape has been grown in Australia since 1825 when it was imported by the Australian Agricultural Company. First grown at Camden by William Macarthur and described in James Busby’s book Manual for Vineyards and Making Wine 1830, “….a plentiful bearer and appears to be free from every sort of disease,” (not quite right).
The Verdelho grape variety comes from the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. There are four varieties used to make Madeira ranging from very dry to very sweet. The driest is Sercial, the Verdelho is softer and slightly darker in colour with the lighter version known as Rainwater. The finer Bual is medium with a strong hint of molasses, and finally Malmsey which is full bodied, often caramelly and brown. In the nineteenth century pipes (casks) of Madeira were loaded on ships for long ocean voyages and it was considered the wine needed to cross the tropics twice before it had acquired the desired flavour.
In the early 1900’s the Tulloch family made a fortified wine predominately from the Verdelho grape in the Madeira style described above and called it Crème de Vin. Tulloch have been producing this Madeira style wine on and off now for 100 plus years, with the current release made in a traditional style from a small solera commenced in 1973.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s as table wine became popular, Verdelho was blended with Semillon (at that time known as Hunter River Riesling) to boost the flavour of the Semillon in light years. Verdelho is very suited to the Hunter Valley as it has the ability to quickly regain its sugar level after rain and is resistant to bunch rot. It does however suffer from powdery mildew; but this is not the problem it used to be due to modern spray equipment. Another plus is its suitability to mechanical harvesting.
Tulloch made Verdelho as a table wine in 1973 and 1974. Both were credible wines, however the ’73 developed rather too much and became overbearing with age. The lesson we learnt from this was not to allow the grapes to reach excessive maturity before harvest. In 1982 we made a wine that would not ferment out to the stage that all the sugar was consumed to produce a dry wine. We ended up with a slightly fruity (sweet) wine; the question was then, what to do with it?
The answer, was to sell it in the cellar door and it was an instant success, so release to the trade followed and here we are today proudly still selling this great varietal 30 years later.
As we have progressed, innovation has come to the fore and we now produce a number of styles of Verdelho. From the Crème de Vin (Madeira style) to the low alcohol style of the Verscato and various styles in between. This range of products shows the versatility of Verdelho as the most reliable variety viticulturally to be grown in the Hunter Valley.
And a few other interesting articles espousing the virtues of the verdelho variety:
Dan Traucki’s Article on Verdelho