Cru Select Australian Bush Vine Grenache – Review

As I discussed in my review of the KenRidge “Founder’s Series” GSM, I have a special occasion in mind that will take place sometime in the future. I want to be prepared with a very special wine that I’ve made, that will be wonderful to serve to the guests.

The wine that I will be blending with the KenRidge GSM is one that will be made from a Cru Select Premium “Australian Bush Vine Grenache.” The kit is a bit different than the GSM in a couple of ways, which I will touch on in a moment. First, here’s what the RJ Spagnols’ website says about their Australian Bush Vine Grenache:

“Bush Vine Grenache is harvested from vines that have earned their place in history by being old enough to be able to achieve complex profiles from the terroir from years of sustained growth. Flam buoyantly aggressive, this full-bodied wine is based on a strong structure of powerful fruit, heavy toasted oak and loads of earthy/spicy needs. Deep garnet in colour, this wine is fermented on toasted Hungarian oak staves and Winery Grape Skins to bring out the rich flavours of prunes, fine black pepper and chewy tannins. The finish is abound with smoky undertones and is expressively persistent.”

~ RJ Spagnols

While the KenRidge kit (more expensive) came with crushed grape skins, the Cru Select kit came with 250 grams of dried Shiraz grape skins. The quantity of juice in the kit is 16 litres, to which of course 5 litres of water is added.

As well as the crushed grape skins, the kit comes with:

  • 2 40 gram packages American oak chips
  • 2 Hungarian Oak staves
  • Lalvin EC-1118 yeast
  • Package of bentonite
  • Hops bag
  • Sulphite
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Fining agents – Kieselsol & Chitosan

Generally speaking, the instructions are good. However, I prefer to mix the juice and water, stir well, and take a specific gravity reading from that prior to adding other ingredients such as the bentonite. I tried a little experiment where I checked the SG before adding the bentonite, and it was 1.104.

After adding the bentonite, (I use a 1/4 cup of boiling hot water, and then slowly sprinkle the bentonite in while vigorously stirring it with a fork to make a slurry) and grape skins, the specific gravity was 1.106. Perhaps not that much of a difference as far as home winemaking from kits.

The kit as mentioned came with Hungarian Oak staves, but no where in the instructions does it tell you what to do with them. The instructions do mention adding the oak powder directly to the juice, but nothing about the oak staves – are they meant for the carboy later or now in the primary or both? A beginner would have no clue what to do with them, perhaps use them as over sized drum sticks or something.

The instructions on the dried grape skins are also a bit ambiguous. They say:

“Place grapeskins in a hop bag or add directly to the primary fermenter on Day 1. For maximum extraction of colour and tannin, we suggest adding grape skins directly into the fermenter…. Remove skins prior to 1st racking.”

Well, there is no easy way to “remove” the skins prior to the 1st racking if they have been added directly without the hop bag. But I did what they recommended and added directly to the juice.

And I know I won’t worry about them much when I do my 1st racking, but a beginner might be a little confused by this.

Other than that, it’s a good kit and I hope the wine will be as good as claimed, and of course, my blend with the aforementioned KenRidge GSM will be supurb! The occassion will deserve nothing less.

Retail price of this kit at the shop I purchase from: $110.00 (Canadian Dollars)

Tasting Notes:

June 4, 2009: Have had this bulk aging in the carboy with the oak staves. This evening, wine still tastes young and fruity, but there are notes at the beginning of some oak which disappear quickly, and then lingering notes of prune, perhaps black cherry and something else very nice…. (what IS that taste??)

I’m going to let it to continue to age on the oak staves – I’m not too worried about too much oak as I am planning on blending with the KenRidge GSM

More to be added later.

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