The third annual NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia) and Winestate organic wine judging took place recently and local owner of Rosnay Organic Wines, Sam Statham, took top prize, the NASAA Ltd Certified Organic ‘Wine of the Year’ Australia 2016 award.
Wine is classified as organic when the wine has been made from grapes that are grown without the use of any ‘artificial chemicals’ such as systemic fungicides, herbicides and synthetic fertilisers. Rosnay was the first organic and biodynamic vineyard of the Cowra wine region, planted by the Statham family as part of a unique certified organic rural farming subdivision, now known as Rivers Road Organic Farms.
Sam and his family are dedicated to the principles of organics and sustainable living and are proving that organic wines can hold their own in the wine world. They established the property in 1997, naming it after a maternal French ancestor Alberic Dulong de Rosnay, a Beaujolais vigneron. It is a diverse family farm enterprise, which spans production, processing and tourism. “Rosnay, the farm and the idea, encompasses all of my passions; family, eco-living, community, self-reliance, cooperation, natural farming systems, and an almost spiritual – call it biodynamic – connection with this place,” Sam said; “My first knowledge of wine I gained in France in 1995 as a result of my Mum, Florence, being French, so I did university in southern France and studied Geography. Part of that course was a subject called ‘Terroir’ – a word I’d never heard in Australia.
But in France it’s in the blood. My field assignment was to visit a vineyard, and I had to do a visual report of the interactions of soil, hydrology, climate, microclimate, native vegetation, grape varieties and cultural methods – that result in a site’s unique flavours. I also heard reference to a mentor I never met, Emile Peynaud, whose book, ‘Knowing and Making Wine’, is my wine making bible today.”
Winemaking for Sam began late, after 15 years of growing organic grapes, olives and other crops with his parents. In 2012 he won a trip back to France from the NSW Department of Agriculture, the Inaugural NSW Organic Pioneers Award. It was in this second visit that he decided to stop just ‘hanging out’ with winemakers, but to actually have a go.
“The next vintage, inspired by the organic wines of southern France, and with Peynaud’s book in hand, I made my first wine and called it Garage Wine Number 1. Two tonnes of Cabernet Sauvignon, handpicked with friends and then a complex process of trial and error over a month, with hand plunging twice daily and then to further lengthy malolactic fermentation. The challenge for me is to try and do it again, but I’ll definitely have fun, and hopefully more Statham good luck along the way” Sam said.
The judges reviewed 139 wines from five States and stated that the Rosnay wine had “intense perfumed licorice and cassis aromas, with a fleshy palate and prominent tannins.”