Trousseau comes to the Swan Valley.

Trousseau comes to the Swan Valley.

This is a story about Trousseau. When I started in 1998 in the Swan Valley Western Australia, my organic vineyard was not established. I wanted to purchase grapes from good Swan Valley growers.

I was introduced to Bill Vinicombe who’s family owned the old Socol property on the eastern side of the railway line in Herne Hill.

Trousseau in the Swan Valley
Trousseau in the Swan Valley

Bill had three vineyards, one on the red bank along the Swan River, another in Herne Hill beside the highway and the rest east of the railway. On Great Northern Highway the block contained Muscat a petits grains rouge, pedro ximenez and a few alternate varieties. Bill called one “black riesling”.

Bill was so fond of the variety that he grafted a row of cabernet savignon over to this unknown variety on his home block beside the Swan River.

Over the years several knowledgeable persons had looked at this variety regarding identification. At one stage petit verdot and petit merceau we discussed, however the grape matured to high baume and much earlier than cabernet sauvignon. These were discounted.

Further identification in 2007 with the leaves and fruit  matched against the pictures and description in the book ,” Wine Grape Varieties” by Kerridge and Antecliff I identified this as Bastardo.

Winemaking

In 2005 Bill gave me half a tonne of grapes to process into wine. The wine was made in a French style, ie minimal intervention, natural yeasts, fermented warm on solids and matured in an old barrique for 6 months prior to bottling. Most was sold in 2006 at cellar door under the label LEDASWAN 2005 Petite Verdot.

Later in 2012 a young French winemaker Kevin Mazier came to experience a Swan Valley vintage with Harris Organic Wines. He brought with him two bottles, one of which was a bottle of Cotes du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau.

Upon opening, I was intrigued to note that this was a wine that I had seen before. I remarked that it was like the variety bastardo I had seen in 2005. Luckily there were two bottles of the 2005 left in my cellar to taste against the younger 2010 bottle.

Then Kevin confirmed that even with age difference, these two wines were made of the same variety.

References

There are numerous references to the variety bastardo and trousseau being similar varieties. Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine, third edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198609902 mentions  ampelographer Comte A Odart.

Wikipedia sates:

Bastardo (Trousseau Noir, Trousseau) is an old variety of red wine grape. It is grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe; most famously it is used in Portuguese port wine. It makes deep cherry red wines with high alcohol and flavours of red berry fruits.

Why would it be Trousseau?

Many years a go there was a French man in the Swan Valley who’s name was Joseph Millard. He  lived in Guildford, he would ride his horse to the vineyard each day and ride home again. He had a vineyard of many varieties. Some of these were brought directly from France when customs clearance was not an issue.   To be continued.