Elysian Springs: Wine and Local Produce, a Culinary Kinship

Premium Adelaide estate Elysian Springs began as part of a grant of farmland given to pioneer Robert Marley for the production of grain, sheep and cattle. In 1980, the property was purchased by the Seppelt family where it was planted with Syrah (Shiraz), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, making it one of the first to plant Burgundian varieties in South Australia. In those days, the vineyard supplied fruit for the great sparkling wines of the Seppelt brand such as Fleur De Lys and table wines under the Partalunga name. From the very beginning, the family placed great emphasis on Shiraz from the property being the emerging “cool-climate” example of the variety. When the Seppelt business was sold in the 1990’s, the vineyard was recognized by Southcorp for being one of the premium sites held by the company with grapes being sourced by the Penfold’s brand and fruit contributed to iconic reds such as Grange and some of the famed Bin series. Later in the decade, the first vintage of Yattarna Chardonnay (often referred to as ‘White Grange’) was produced with grapes sourced from the vineyard and thus the burgeoning reputation as purveyor of the source of some of the finest wines produced in Australia had been declared.

Speaking with Brad Rey, ‘Canadian-at-large’ and maverick vigneron at Elysian Springs (he is also one of the founders of Australian wine producing collective Zonte’s Footstep) he conveys great pride at their dedication to translating the terroir of the Adelaide Hills and creating an environment that is sustainable and harmonious with nature. In the production of their wines he looks to express ‘a sense of place’ from the fruit and regards oak and wine-making in general as secondary tools of the trade. Food and wine is inextricably linked at Elysian Springs and although releases like their beautiful, bone dry Apple Cart Pinot Rosé is stellar as a refreshing stand alone drink, the ethos of the estate is to provide straightforward food pairings that show off the nuances of the varietals and perfectly accompany the regional fare. With the release of the Spring Lamb Syrah they provide a month of weekend chargrill BBQS with lamb from the property and in addition to this they hold a PIRSA license with which they intend, in the future, to sell their ethically raised sheep and cattle direct to the consumer. With the estate grown shiraz, the grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness and after a cool fermentation, maceration and some malolactic fermentation for softness, the resultant wine is then aged in a variety of seasoned French and American oak hogsheads.

On the estate about 10,000 rainbow and brown trout fingerlings are added to the spring-fed dam every year, and one month every year on release of the new vintage of the Pennies From Heaven Sauvignon Blanc, they do a ‘Flyfishing and Fumé’ event where you can come and fish and if you are lucky and catch a trout they will cook it for you with a glass of their gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc.

From start to finish with Pennies From Heaven, the fruit is king. Whole bunches are hand selected and picked in the cool of the early morning then de-stemmed without crushing the fruit. Gentle pressing follows and the free run juice is then fermented in small stainless steel tanks, ensuring the lively white grapefruit flavours and aromas are retained. Bottling without fining and with minimal filtration serves to capture the purity of taste and texture. What results is a vibrant wine which perfectly represents the Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc model which is becoming so sought after.

Brad has three viticultural rules to live by when making wine, taught to him by former mentors.

Produce wines that represent the fruit we grow and the piece of dirt it grows in. Make sure the wine you bottle brings a smile to your consumers face. When they pay for the wine… the smile needs to still be there.

Brimming over with enthusiasm for new projects, Rey talks of their imminent plans to plant bush vine Grenache with cuttings taken from the oldest Grenache vineyard in Australia (first planted in 1850). This will make Elysian Springs one of the only Grenache vineyards in the Adelaide Hills and plans are already afoot for a Grenache Syrah the reason being, says Rey, that the sum of the two parts is always greater than the individual.

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