La Petite Mort.
Unusual, confronting and a little left of centre.
Welcome to La Petite Mort.
Unusual, confronting and a little left of the middle.
The La Petite Mort (LPM) label is home to the 'other' wines that come out of Bent Road Winery in Ballandean, on Queensland's Granite Belt. These small batch, experimental wines are produced with minimal wine making intervention and put into bottle without filtering or fining to allow the raw essence of our experimentation to shine through. Rustic and characterful, LPM wines promise a unique sensory experience and a story behind every label.
"Confronting. Polarising. A conversation piece..."
La Petite Mort is the kind of dinner guest who holds court in any crowd. With striking looks and a bold agenda, LPM knowingly draws and holds the attention of other guests and whilst suave, sophisticated and to the point; the label is not afraid to offend a few people along the way. La Petite Mort - and we all know what that really means - is a master of euphemism and thinly veiled double entendre and has a juicy story or crude limerick for every situation.
Based on a photograph by prominent Australian Photographer Ray Cook, the La Petite Mort label makes quite a statement. It's up to you, the observer, to decide what that statement is to you but it should certainly evoke the feeling that this is NOT your average bottle of Chardy! As the conduit for our alternative and/or experimental wines, the label is very much intended to prepare the prospective drinker for the fact that this wine may have a surprise or two up its sleeve.
One of the great things about being a boutique wine producer is that you get to have full creative license in the winery which opens the way for innovation and re-invention. As part of this process, there is often a need to play with certain ideas and see how they work out. We do a lot of small scale 'bench trials' wherever possible, but sometimes you just need to jump in and make a barrel or two to really see the outcome of our meddling...
La Petite Mort is the receptacle of these experimental wines. Unfined and unfiltered, these wines are made in a deliberately candid, 'rustic' style with minimal addition and intervention so as not to muddy the results of our trial and retain the fullness of flavour that we see when we taste from the barrel before bottling.
At last count, there were 7 wines under the La Petite Mort label:
2013 La Petite Mort Marsanne.
Still very much in its youth, the wine shows pretty floral notes of honeysuckle and beeswax with the crisp green melon and nectarine fruit that we fought so hard to preserve. The oak lends savouriness and spicy cedar to the honey end of the spectrum. Over the tongue, this wine has a waxy viscosity balanced against crisp acidity and held up by a great back bone of minerality (think of smooth wet creek pebbles). All of the afore mentioned aromas continue onto the palate but come off just a little richer and with more body than the nose might suggest.
The 2013 Marsanne is about playing with an underrated variety which we like very much and which seems to do well in the Granite Belt. The grapes came into the winery with an amazing purity of fruit and a certain vivacity that we have worked very hard to retain. This excellent fruit weight and Marsanne's generally fuller body and waxy texture, we thought, should lend itself to making an oak treated wine. So we fermented it in our French puncheon (500L Barrel => 600 Bottles only).
2011 La Petite Mort Chardonnay.
Gorgeous spicy, cedary French oak blends seamlessly with pithy, pink grapefruit and ripe tangelo notes in this bold, yet balanced, expression of newschool Australian Chardonnay. As it starts to mellow in its old age, the creamy Malo-lactic characters are really starting to shine through with a dinstinctly buttery element underlying the fruit weight.
An experiment in barrel format - size really does matter! Although we fermented and aged this wine in a brand new, premium, French barrel for 13 months the oak influence is lessened because it was a great big puncheon (~500L) as opposed to the standard barrique (~250L). If you remember any of your high school geometry, you'll recall that as the diameter of a circle increases, the ratio of its perimeter decreases relative to the area - this means less oak per litre, in other words!
2014 La Petite Mort Viognier.
"Good on ya, vee-on-ya" - The second coming of our orange styled aromatic elixir. In this white-wine-made-like-a-red, extended skin contact (about 45 days) builds layers of juicy texture and intriguing ginger and Thai spice on top of the unctuous dried apricot and honeysuckle that is synonymous with Aussie Viognier.
Despite being seen as bit of a new trend in wine making, Orange wine's roots actually run as deep as the history of winemaking itself - A time when red and white wines were fermented indiscriminantly and simply by natural, airborne yeasts! (Our modern version is ever so slightly more sophisticated, however.)
2014 La Petite Mort Amphora White MV22.
Marsanne and Roussanne were co-fermented in terracotta on skins and solids for 22 days before pressing into tank.
This wine is most definitely for the adventurous palate. A rich, honeyed peach aroma with swirls of rancio browned apples on the nose belies a dry and mineral palate with surprising grip and structure. The fruit continues in the background with dried peach and pear playing second fiddle to the complex oxidative character that seems to be synonymous with white wine in amphora. This is wine of a time-gone-by.
Technically speaking, an amphora is a Roman clay jar of a certain size with two handles designed to be carried by two slaves. In wine making, however, we use the term loosley to refer to just about any clay fermenting vessle - probably a more accurate word to use would be kvevri the Georgian name specifically given to large, beeswax lined, terracotta jars for fermenting and storing wine. In fact, it is a popular theory that the Georgians were responsible for discovering and pioneering the fermentation of grapes into wine and introducing the trend into the rest of Europe.
There is a fantastic story of a Georgian concubine who had been kicked out of the King's harem and whilst moping around in the cellars tried to kill herself by drinking from a poisonous brew bubbling away in one of the kvervi, deep in the cellar where the grapes were stored. Rather than the melodramatic death she was hoping for, she become giddy and somewhat elated and, no doubt, woke up with a bit of a headache the next morning! In the end of the story, she takes her new found nepenthe to the King and becomes his right-handmaiden, so to speak. See. Wine does solve problems!
2014 La Petite Mort Rosé.
This dry, medium bodied rose is pressed from Pinot Noir grapes after a very short period of skin contact, this process called saignée gives just a little colour and flavour from the skins which creates that delicate balance between red and white wine characteristics that a good rosé should display. Ours shows crisp fresh blanc pinot flavours and acidity with some earthy, savoury notes underlying subtle strawberry and red-berry fruits. (Bottled under CO2)
2014 La Petite Mort Amphora Red SV149.
Whole Shiraz berries and a dash of Viognier(~3%) were co-fermented in teracotta on skins and solids for 149 days before pressing into tank! - Unoaked, 2014 Shiraz released in December 2014 - how many of those have you seen in your local bottlo?
All delicate plums, kirsch and redcurrant on the nose, the Amphora Red slips over the tongue with a relatively light body and texture; soft, powdery tannins and a savoury, white pepper finish. A great acid backbone and grippy, gritty texture from the skin contact will give this wine longevity despite its drink-now appeal.
There's a certain kind of magic that happens when you ferment these Norther Rhône varieties together. Something, and we don't quite know what, creates a whole that is well in excess of the sum of it's parts. Where the more astute reader migh assume that adding white grapes to a red wine would dilute the colours and flavours, when these two grapes are fermented together the result is a Shiraz of lifted fruit aroma and deep purplish colour that is quite distinct to the Côte Rôtie and other Shiraz Viognier Blends. We have taken this even further by fermenting whole berries which further lifts fruit flavours and aroma. A technique inspired by the carbonic maceration technique used in Beaujolais Nouveau.
2012 La Petite Mort Petit Verdot / Tempranillo.
'12 was sunny. '12 was ripe. '12 IS GOOD!
A warm vintage has created a style of wine which is richer, plusher and more elegant than would usually be par for the Granite Belt. It also allowed us to get the Petit Verdot (sometimes a marginal variety) nice and ripe. Plums, violets and blackcurrant on the nose and the palate tells you that you're in Cabernet company, but there is a savouriness and a gaminess that hints at tapas. On the palate it is rich and velvety with loads of red and purple fruits held up by silky tannin and juicy acidity filled out by a regime of American and Hungarian oak.
Petit Verdot or 'PV' (from the Cabernet fraternity) and Tempranillo (the national grape of Spain) may seem like an odd couple and in fact they are, but like a good sitcom, it's the interplay of these two strange bedfellows that makes this wine intriguing and at the same time gives it balance. On the one hand, PV is like goth Cabernet. It's dark and brooding and a little ominous but it wraps itself in plush velvet and has a prettiness that compliments its dark nature. Tempranillo, on the other hand, is the salt of the earth. It's hard working, earthy, robust and generous but once you scratch the surface it's surprisingly deep and complex. The depth and generousity of the Tempranillo coupled with the brooding prettiness of the Petit Verdot creates a wine of breadth, depth and complexity.
Click Here to 'shop La Petite Mort' (and Bent Road Wine / 2BC as well).
*Commercial customers please contct me via the Email link for pricing and further information.
Henri getting his hands dirty cleaning shiraz barrels after racking.
La Petite Mort is the black sheep of the Bent Road Wine family which hale from Ballandean on the Granite Belt, Queensland. Purchased in 2000 by the current proprietors/wine maker, the property encompasses 40 hectares of vines, winery, wilderness and granite boulders along a kilometre of frontage onto the pristine Severn River. Perched on the western reaches of the Great Dividing Range at an altitude of over 750m, many people are surprised to discover that our climate is both cool and continental - in fact, Ballandean is one of the coolest growing regions in Australia. This cool climate (and possibly our taste for European wines) lend subtlety and elegance to our wines, often expressing spicy, savoury notes and generally lower alcohol than some of our broader 'Southern Sisters'.
Our absurdly picturesque setting plays host not only to great wine, but an abundance of other cultural indulgences and a great many guests! Whilst we don't operate a cellar door because we split our time between the 'Dean and Bris-angeles, we are always thrilled to receive guests when we are at home on the 'farm' and as a household full of consummate foodies, cooks and even a chef there is always something delicious on the hob!
Some Other Things
At present, we are fairly focussed on the upcoming release of our new vintage wines and getting things in order for the 2015 vintage but there are certainly a number of other projects lurking in the depths of our collective consciousness. A few ideas bubbling away include:
A launch event for the new season wines,
Hand Picked with The Makers Club (March 14-15 2015) www.themakersclub.com.au
Vineyard Tours and Open Days,
Tastings and Degustation Events,
Professional and Consumer Wine Groups and Education Opportunities,
And possibly even an Urban Cellar Door / Providore!
So stay tuned and watch this space or Email Us and tell us what you're interested in and we will keep you up to date with what's brewing at the Road.
Also we are always on the look out for interesting and innovative opportunities and partners, so if you have an idea for a retail, cross-promotional or other synergistic partnership, don't hesitate to chat us up!
La Petite Mort wines are part of a bigger picture that is Bent Road Wines. Follow the link above for information about our other wine labels and more about the operation and winery.
Our partners in visual crime, 2eVoke.com looks after all of our design and marketing needs. They specialise in designing for the food and wine industry... check them out.