Do winemakers fit a stereotype? In the last couple of decades, less so. The term rock star winemaker these days is thrown around loosely. It generally refers to a young gun winemaker making waves & collecting accolades.
MEET TARAS OCHOTA… the Ultimate Punk Rockstar turned cult winemaker. Aka one of the most boundary pushing winemakers in Australia. Aka one of the highlights of this year’s SWARTLAND HERITAGE FESTIVAL.
A charismatic & affectionately crass winemaker (who chose a career in winemaking because he didn’t want job where he had to shave or iron his shirt) wonderfully stated on Saturday that “wine is just a drink, nothing more.”
However he makes some of the most desired & devastatingly delicious wines in Oz. But he doesn’t take it too seriously. He does whole punch because cleaning the press is wasting precious beer drinking time!
Ochota Barrels were some of the first to show a different side to Australia’s wines. Taras is focused on picking early & retaining natural acidity rather than pushing the ripeness, richness & alcohol boundaries to an extreme. Producing pretty & elegant wines with nervous tension & natural acidity. “I really wanted to focus on making wines that were a bit more holistic in their approach. So I have a bit more input into the growing the grapes organically, & then minimal intervention winemaking…”. The wines we tasted were with no hesitation; OUTSTANDING!
The CHARDONNAY +5VOV 2017 had Chablis like elegance & restraint, with racy acidity & perfectly balanced creaminess. We then tasted his Riesling & Gewurtztraminer. Both which were singing but not to the usual tune of fragrant & aromatic wines. He bottles them in burgundy bottles to warn people they are a little “fucked up”. They are crisp & clean with chalky grips & beautiful aromatics. Then we tasted a blend of 9 varietals (white & red) “TEXTURE LIKE SUN FIELD RED” – an exercise in trying to create something delicious! Next a Beaujolais style Syrah or a “gay Syrah” in Arras words called I AM THE OWL.
And the last but not least, THE FUGAZU GRENACHE 17. Vines planted in 1947 are still gorgeously healthy. Crunchy cranberries, red bullets, full of energy