Why Black Bear?
Our first wine was already bottled before we discovered our great, great grandfather (Pietro D’Orsa) had travelled from Italy by ship with vines in arms to Australia in the late 1800’s. He landed in Melbourne and made his way to Maldon in search of gold and to plant a vineyard. Since this discovery we have visited the original vineyard site located on “D’Orsa lane” in Maldon, been investigating our family history and have made contact with other descendants who are not only living in Melbourne but also in Italy.
It’s an incredible journey that we have been on. Winemaking was clearly in the blood all along.
It is with such great pride that we are releasing this limited edition “Black Bear” as a fitting tribute to our D’Orsa heritage that traces back to the canton of Graubünden which features a black bear in its coat of arms.
With only one barrel being produced the quantity of this wine is very limited. In fact only 100 x 750ml bottles and 50 magnums have been produced and each bottle is numbered and hand waxed by owner/father Tony Hunter.
Wow, power and complexity in a glass! Intense black fruit of blackberry and plum added to by a great deal of complexity from a range of herbs and spices, the best from both varieties. Quality French oak is expressing itself strongly and is very well entwined with the richness of the fruit.
Just like the D’Orsa the black fruits show awesome depth from start to the very long finish and the new French oak becomes background complexity to this enormous and generous wine.
Very satisfying for those who love their wine powerful and complex and it will definitely go the distance for those of us who are a bit more patient.
The 2016 vintage started with bud burst kick off in September. The first buds appeared earlier than usual but were then slow to get going. The late winter and spring weather was cooler and dryer than usual which I believe contributed to the slow growth.
The dry weather continued right through summer and because of this unusual lack of meaningful rainfall I began irrigation early to keep the health in the vines. Even though we had a small crop we still dropped a lot of fruit, again to keep the vines healthy. To my surprise the fruit ripened quickly with all blocks and varieties being ready to harvest at the same time.
Our boutique vineyard and winery is a family enterprise intent on making concentrated, sophisticated and complex wines inspired by our unique Heathcote terroir, a fault line of ancient Cambrian red rock pulverised over 510 million years into soil.
We have utilised the vertical shoot positioning trellis system to open up the canopy, reduce the risk of disease and expose bunches to direct sun light for ripening. The vines are cane pruned to a single fruiting wire with a maximum 20 buds per vine. Crop levels are naturally low and irrigation kept to a minimum with some blocks unirrigated.
To conserve the natural balance within the soils and hence the overall health of the vines, we aim to minimise the use of chemicals. It is our practice to utilise organic principles in the first instance such as organic fertilisers and mulching to control weed growth and then if absolutely necessary, use small amounts of chemicals to target specific parts of the vineyard.
Not only is our vineyard improving each year due to the age of the vines but also Mark’s viticultural skills and understanding of our particular terroir under different and sometimes extreme environmental circumstances such as draught, floods, fire, locusts plague and frost. This has meant that the quality as well as quantity of wine at each of our Shiraz levels has enabled us to produce a new and quintessentially Australian blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon resulting in this inaugural vintage of Black Bear.
We utilise traditional winemaking practices that are labour intensive but within a modern understanding of its ways. The Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were destemmed and then whole berries transferred to small open fermenters using gravity (to avoid pump shock) with their naturally occurring yeasts activating fermentation.
Shiraz component (60%):
Our philosophy when blending this Shiraz component is to produce a wine that will achieve the ultimate expression of our vineyard, all the elements in concentration and perfect harmony. 70% of this wine had 6 days on skins with 2-3 days of fermentation before being gravity fed to new French oak barriques at 4 Be’ for completion in barrel. Whilst 6 days on skins isn’t a long time, it is purposefully done by Mark to achieve the mouth filling soft texture that has become the hallmark of our higher end Shiraz wines. The remaining 30% is pressings from long skin contact ferments and is transferred to older French oak thus providing the structural component for longevity. The resulting wine spends 18 months in oak before being blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon component (40%):
The grapes are fermented for anywhere between 8 to 30 days before being transferred via gravity to French oak barriques (approximately 20% new) and left to mature for approximately 18 months. The best barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon is then selected and different proportions of Cabernet and Shiraz are assessed before Mark decides on the perfect combination that makes only one barrel of the Black Bear blend. It is the only wine that is a Shiraz Cabernet blend in our range and with the Cabernet addition it will be the longest aging wine at 25+ years under good cellaring conditions. This wine will only be produced if the quality of D’Orsa remains at the high standard you have become accustomed to. This is also the same for the Cabernet portion of the blend as it is important that we don’t compromise our other wines in order to produce a Black Bear vintage.
With the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has been made for aging with a cellaring time of 25+ years under good cellaring conditions.
Our cellaring recommendations are:
- Lay the Black Bear on it’s side to keep the cork moist thereby stopping air from entering the wine. Air will cause oxidization. Storage in very dry conditions eg air conditioning can cause more rapid drying of the cork.
- Constant temperature of between 12˚ to 18˚. Fluctuations in temperature is one of the biggest causes of premature aging.
- Put the Black Bear in a dark cellar as quickly as possible. In most instances we hand deliver the Black Bear to ensure it is not sitting in a delivery van or on a porch in direct heat. A few minutes can cause wine spoilage and over an hour could totally spoil the wine. With cork enclosures this can cause the cork to push out slightly with the expansion and contraction of the wine thereby increasing the likelihood of oxidization.
We realise it is not always possible to have the perfect cellaring conditions so in these circumstances we recommend consuming the wine sooner than the updated recommendations by us.
We are scheduled to open a bottle of Black Bear in 2021 and as long as you are registered, we will keep you updated on its progress.
Also, if you have a special event you would like to open the wine for, please make contact with us before the event so we can advise you.