Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of ‘golden joinery’, the creation of enduring beauty from broken fragments of ancient pottery as they are pieced together with lacquer laced with gold. It befits a desire to meticulously blend only the very best parcels of old vine fruit from a single year. Kintsugi is thus the best Southern Rhone inspired wine that Bernice and Julian can create each year, no matter its components.
One parcel of 85 % Grenache, 10 % Mataro and a splash of Shiraz, hand-picked on 16 March 2018 and co-fermented. 40 % whole bunches, the balance destemmed but not crushed to retain whole berries. Native yeast ferment under a submerged cap for 21 days. This parcel was then blended with a second small parcel of bush-vine Grenache from 87 year-old vines and matured on fine lees in a mix of inert tanks and old oak for 18 months. 14.2 % alc/vol.
‘An elegant, but deeply fruited wine, showing aromatic floral red fruit lift, and spice from old vine Grenache, built upon intense blue fruits and violets of dry grown Mataro and Shiraz. Layered and long this wine exhibits a tightly wound core of dense red berried crunchy fruit, framed by persistent sandy tannins, and bright acidity.’ Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood, Founders and Winemakers.
Ministry of Clouds is the creation of Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood and it’s just on a decade since they decided to leave the security of the corporate wine world (the ministry) for the adventure (the clouds) of their own wine venture. And it’s been quite a journey thus far.
From the 2012 vintage their first five releases all rated between 94 and 97 points in the Halliday Wine Companion and earned them a spot in the Top Ten New Wineries for the year. Basing themselves in McLaren Vale, they sourced red fruit from around the Vale, securing parcels from some of the most venerable and sought-after old-vine Shiraz and Grenache vineyards.
To these plots, they added Tempranillo from the Vale, Riesling from the Clare and Chardonnay from Tasmania to broaden their portfolio. And then from the 2016 vintage came a new flagship wine, Kintsugi, named for the Japanese art of ‘golden joinery’ used to resurrect ancient, broken pottery.
The big step up though occurred in that same year with their purchase of the 9 ha Chase Vineyard and its 650 million year-old Onkaparinga Rocks geology. And thus their second single vineyard Shiraz was born, joining the original, highly lauded Blewitt Springs interpretation.
Since then they have set about augmenting their 6 hectares of Shiraz with their own plots of Tempranillo, Mencia, Carignan, Cinsaut and Picpoul. In 2019 the they processed their first vintage at their small winery at the Chase, releasing a new varietal Mencia, a new Grenache Carignan and bottling a trial run of Picpoul.
Ministry of Clouds' wines show careful attention to detail; they are wines that speak of the land and reveal the essence of the season. They are wines of flavour and texture, yet wines that show artful restraint in their delicately poised balance of ripeness and tension. They are wines that beg to be shared at a convivial table and consumed with all manner of complementary foods, flavours and textures.
With new varieties in the ground, plans afoot for a winery expansion and new concrete eggs on order, the Ministry of Clouds journey is just gathering steam.