The Foggo Wines Story
Foggo Wines husband and wife team, Herb and Sandie Van De Wiel, second generation growers are a complete hands on operation in McLaren Vale – from pruning and picking to hand plunging and lees stirring – even blending, bottling and labelling are done on the estate by this dynamic duo.
The Van De Wiels chose their first McLaren Vale vineyard ( some 16 yrs ago) because of its reliable Mediterranean climate and maritime influences – their Shiraz on the winery block on Foggo Road is the oldest, dating back to 1915.
The 87 year old Bush Grenache vines aren’t far behind in maturity and even the 50 year old Cabernet Sauvignon vines would cause jealousy among many new growers. Even the relatively obscure Cinsaut variety, which was planted in 1958, has a unique lineage. It is the only Cinsaut made as a Rose. Over 70% of the reds are dry grown giving full intense flavour with some varieites only yielding an average 2 tonne to the acre.
The reds are made for the long haul, with excellent structure and ageing ability. As well as power and opulence, Foggo Reds have a finesse and elegance that set them apart.
“We pick to taste so we’re looking for primary fruit characters in the vineyard – once we have those, the complexity of the fruit off the old vines and their incredible structure provides a balanced wine, even though alcohol levels can be high, we don’t get any hot or jammy characters".
Small Batch Winemaking
Intensity and concentration of flavour is high as 70 per cent of the vineyards are dry grown, with yields varying from as low as 3/4 tonne per acre to four tonnes per acre, depending on the season.
The dedication to single vineyard uniqueness follows through to small batch winemaking. While tank farms spring up all over Australia, Herb and Sandie have resorted to just four stainless steel open fermenters while everything else is fermented in hogsheads – complete with their own heading down boards to keep the skin cap under the juice for better colour and extraction.
“We ferment almost everything in barrel, so we have to rack and press each one iindividually at the end of ferment,” Herb said.“ The beauty of this is when we blend the wine, we have dozens of unique parcels to choose from to make our final blends. This ensures that quality control remains high".
“It’s an old-fashioned way to do things but the results are remarkable,” Herb says. A 80/ 20 mixture of French and American oak is used, with about a third of that being new oak. One year and two year old oak makes up the remainder.
“We find that fermenting in the barrel makes the wines softer and more approachable at a young age, while maintaining complexity and longevity,” Herb says.
The winery was established in 1987 (formally Curtis Wines) and was bought in December 1999 by the Van De Wiels. They rejuvenated the winery by introducing refrigeration for white wine making, a laboratory, and revamped the 1942 French crushe (run by a leather belt) , a new press, a temperature controlled barrel hall, a bottling line, as well as tidying up the cellar door and adding the office complex.
We have an assistant winemaker each vintage to help out.
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