Gwyn Olsen: Art or Oenology?
Head winemaker at Peppertree wines in the Hunter Valley produces a drop arguably more art than oenology…..
There’s a place for tradition and respect for time-honoured winemaking practices, but in this day and age, consumers increasingly expect something fresh, different and cool before they will part with their hard-earned.
And this drift towards wines that are seen as chic or a la mode has played perfectly into the hands of the young gun winemakers who are approaching their craft with creativity and flair; vintners like the 2014 Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker medallist, Gwyn Olsen.
A graduate of Roseworthy University in Adelaide, Gwyn started her career working vintages in France in St Emillion, Languedoc and Burgundy before heading to New Zealand to hone her skills in a cool climate.
Her star rose quickly over her years at Villa Maria and by 2015, Gwyn was back in Australia and Head Winemaker at Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley. These days, Gwyn not only oversees vintage at Peppertree, but also looks after winemaking at Briar Ridge as well as those wines that she produces under her own label.
Her gift of a finely tuned palate has seen her appointed as a judge at six different Australian wine shows, including those prestigious ones in Melbourne and Adelaide. But perhaps the accolade that I found most impressive was Gwyn’s selection as part of the 2017 Future Leaders Program which is intended to develop leadership and to encourage innovation; something that she delivers in spades!
And when it comes to innovation, you’ve got to applaud Gwyn’s unconventionality in bravely crafting field blend wines in her own name which involves harvesting and co-fermenting a number of different varietals which were picked from the same vineyard on the same day.
It’s said that the field blend vinification allows the wines to truly express the regionality of their place of origin and to showcase the individual nuances of each vineyard. Gwyn’s 2019 field blends are now on the shelves and come in both a red and a white blend crafted from fruit sourced from the Wrattonbully region of South Australia.
The field blend white is made from fiano, viogner, chardonnay and pinot gris and is drinking wonderfully well. It’s a very pretty style with lovely honeysuckle and a hint of rose petal on the nose and characters of honeydew, citrus and a lashing of nectarine. It’s fresh, lively and defined by its mineralic conclusion. Nicely balanced with a zesty finish.
On the other hand, the Gwyn Olsen Field Blend red is comprised of merlot, malbec, aglianico and barbera and shows a spicy ribena-esque nose and some lovely cherry, redcurrants and raspberry through the middle and a leafy savouriness on the finish. It’s a drink now kind of red that will be very versatile in its food pairings. Pizza, lamb or even just as a partner for any chargrilled protein fresh off the BBQ!
Both of these Gwyn Olsen creations are selling at less than $20 a bottle and in tune with the artistry of the maker, are also vegan-friendly, preservative-free and made with minimal intervention. Arguably more art than oenology and if you ask me, they’re two great value and versatile drops.