Adelaide Hills is developing a growing reputation for first-class chardonnay, and the Ngeringa Chardonnay, now in its 5th release, is one of the leading examples. Owned and operated by Erinn and Janet Klein, this small biodynamic winery, founded in 2001, is also member of the La Renaissance des Appellations (see The Return to Terroir Tasting, Cellarit Wine Blog, 21 March 2011)
The Ngeringa Vineyard is situated below the Mount Barker summit where the cool evening sea winds, which blow in from the southern sea over the mouth of the Murray, ensure a long growing season and help the grapes maintain their natural acidity.
The Kleins have a very wholistic approach to managing their nine hectare property, which also includes four hectares of olive groves, a substantial vegetable garden and paddocks. Guinea fowl, ducks and chooks patrol the vineyards during spring and summer to keep the insects under control, and in the winter a flock of sheep mow the grass. A herd of Scottish Highland cattle provide manure for the compost used in the biodynamic brews and preparations.
Despite enlisting the help of the animal kingdom, vineyard management is still a very hands-on affair. An imported tiny crawler tractor helps till the soil, but the vines, laid out in narrow rows, are trained and mainly cared for by hand.
In the winery is a new addition: an intriguing looking Nomblot concrete egg fermenter. Built using Pythagoras’ Golden Mean, the egg shape encourages a flowing energy, practically keeping the lees more easily in suspension, and, esoterically, enhancing the vibrancy of the wine.
James Halliday awarded the 2008 Ngeringa Chardonnay 96 points: “Good colour, a very complex bouquet, with barrel ferment and intense cool-grown fruit in a grapefruit and white peach spectrum; has great length and thrust. Cellar to 2015.” (James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2011 Edition) The winery also makes highly regarded viognier, pinot noir and syrah under Ngeringa and its J.E second label.