Earlier this year I spent a bit of time tooling around Glenrowan, checking in to the old vine Trebbiano at Booths Taminick and a quick look at the Bailey's vintage port. Whereas I went to Baileys expecting to buy and left empty handed and disappointed, the punt taken on a first visit to Morrisons came off.
While I often think of Beechworth as the 'higher country' for Rutherglen and Glenrowan, the latter has its own slopes over and up to Mt Glenrowan and the Warby Range. The Morrison's site feels different to other Glenrowan vineyards. It looks like ideas tipped out at random across a hillside. A plot of vines here, a bit of green building over there, a winding track designed to disorient and lift SUV driving blood pressures. You half expect a grove of miniature, chainsaw-carved Ned Kellys or a nudist colony, or some full-beard mix of both.
Bob and Dianne Morrison run the place, but there are vines over in the King Valley as well as the art-farm-colony on the hill at Glenrowan. The ideas carry inside their sheds and cellar door, or maybe spilled out from there in the first place. Bob's a gregarious guy - a distracted air about him, a sense it's the women that yoke the ideas to the ground.
The more you talk with the Morrisons, the more you get a sense the whole thing is a blend of the deliberate and the accidental, a pinball rythym of ideas across time and site. Lets try a distinctly lighter style of Durif from a NSW-developed, lower alcohol durif clone, but grow it at Glenrowan? Sounds good. Cock a snoot at that Rutherglen durif. Why not a bit of Glenrowan tempranillo as well?
And then something wilder still. Why not a blend of Fiano and Garganega? But let's turn Soave & Campania inside out and around. Why not ripen the Garganega to a rich texture of pear-juice and apple-candy, but do the Fiano light, bright and lean, then put them together? They won't see that one coming. It'll be a bit Barbie, a bit Bride of Frankenstein, all off to a school dance, corset holding in the pieces.
I didn't see it coming. But I liked it. And did I mention Bob is keen on the Zork closure, so there is no screwcap or cork? A bottle drunk at home in Canberra perked up early and held its own with chicken & pasta. Towards the end of the bottle the air started to show in cut-apple-brown, but in a group on a warm day at lunch, I'd wager this wouldn't last long enough.
I still don't think I completely understand what's going on at that Glenrowan hill, but the distinctive, scatty vision, stitching ideas and places together, experiment piled on... there is a freedom there, a sense of plowing your own road. Worth some attention and regard, for mine.
Website, $18, 12% alcohol, Zork.