Blog - Western Australia - Grape Mystery

May, 2015

The grape Swan Valley Mystery Part II

Bastardo, by the way, is not only Spanish for bastard, it is also an Italian Town in the Perugia province, a baseball player (Antonio Bastardo) for the Philadelphia Phillies, an Ibiza hip-hop artist, and the name of a single by Charlotte Hatherley. Then, in 2012 a young French winemaker named Kevin Mazier came to stay with us and to complete an Australian winemaking internship.
Kevin wanted to include Bio or Organic winemaking in this experience. Kevin’s family are viticulturalists and winemakers in Jura, in the north east of France. Kevin brought with him two bottles of wine. One of these bottles was a Cote du Jura, Domaine des Ronces, 2010 Trousseau, a lovely red wine similar to a light dry Shiraz. Jura, by the way borders France and Switzerland – Jura gave its name to the Jurassic period of prehistory. Upon tasting, I was transported – like Proust – to the making of the red wine Bastardo/Black Reisling/Petit Verdot vintage. I had a very strong feeling that I had tasted this wine variety before. Fortunately, there were two bottles of the red 2005 Petit Verdot wine still left in my underground cellar and upon tasting, young Kevin agreed that despite the age difference, it was doubtless that the French Trousseau and the Swan Valley Bastardo were indeed the same variety. This was confirmed upon further research when I discovered that indeed, Trousseau Noir (Trousseau or Bastardo) is an old variety grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe; including the winemaking region of Jura. A small amount of Trousseau is grown in Australia under the name Gros Cabernet…so the must thickens. This variety is also famously used to make Portuguese Port red wine. So, how did the French Trousseau come to be in Bill Vinicombe’s little vineyard in the antipodean Valley of the Black Swans?

According to friend and neighbour John Kosovich – another Valley vigneron – but who had been born and grew up in the Swan Valley; in the early to mid 20th Century there was a French Canadian man who owned a vineyard in the Swan Valley. His name was Joseph Millars and he apparently resided at Margaret Street, Midland Junction. This vineyard was of about 40 rows and possibly just 5 acres, containing nonetheless over 20 grape varieties. I myself have 5 acres under vine and grow 6 varieties in my organic vineyard, so it is not especially unusual. The story of Mr Joseph Millars is not known however, and it may never be known from where this gentleman procured the cuttings for the Trousseau/Pinot Meunier /Black Reisling/Bastardo/Gros Cabernet. If this vine could speak, what stories it could tell.


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