It has been a long time between drinks for us at Five Way Cellars and Ruggabellus. Abel and Em have penned an open letter to the wine world, explaining their absence and what they have been up to this past year. It is a touching glimpse into the ups and downs of winemaking, and we are glad to welcome their lovely wines back to Five Way Cellars. FWC.
"Sometimes it is really important to make changes. Now that we have the first ten years of Ruggabellus tucked away in the cellar, Emma and I have allowed ourselves to make a few. Some have been out of our control and others have been conscious decisions, seeking the highest quality for our wine. This release sees our wines bottled under cork. This has been a highly considered decision for Em and I. We value your faith in us to create meaningful, interesting and long lasting wines. An important element in building faith is minimising changes. Another important element is effort. We have spent a long time now observing the 'rhythms' of nature in relation to the Sun and Moon, and in relation to the nearer planets and the stars beyond. We have been guided by the biodynamic farming calendar, a body of work built from years of observation. It is fascinating to watch the annual cycle of plant growth, seemingly only beginning once there is a certain amount of warmth and light. It is fascinating to watch a flower bloom and then perfectly track the sun. It is fascinating to consider the dance of the tides, perfectly in sync with the Moon. I have been amazed by the subtle differences tasted in our wines on the various fruit, root, flower or leaf days, determined by the orientation of our planet toward the stars at any particular time. I have come to accept that our wines are better suited to maturation in wooden barrels rather than steel tanks. For this reason I feel certain that our wines will benefit from aging in bottle under a cork. I sense that in such environments there is a subtle means for our wines to expand and contract in sync with these lunar and solar rhythms we have come to respect. I am glad we have the first ten years of Ruggabellus safely tucked away under screw cap and look forward to opening them well into the future. I feel comfortable that the quality of cork available in Australia is far improved and know we have made every effort to bottle our wines under some of the best cork currently available.
We are coming out of a good winter here in the Eden valley. We have had great rains and it is good to see the creeks flowing for the first time in three years. The soil ecology will be very happy with all the new growth on the many flowering plants here, some from sown seeds, some from the returning species promoted by the careful timing of our vineyard operations. We love the diversity on our little patch and are constantly trying to add to it. We now understand the power of diversity and its importance in facilitating access for our old vines to the minerals in our soil. This year Emma and I were lucky enough to meet, and listen to Dr. Christine Jones talk to an interested group of local farmers. She is a soil ecologist and a huge advocate of biodiversity. She has many years of experience and is very clear that, for the wellbeing of all living things, from humans right through to the plants that are busy dealing with the carbon we are so good at providing, we should be fostering management techniques that return biodiversity to the soil under our feet. It is becoming clearer that this is where the nutritional value of our food and the quality of our air is determined - a wide range of plants converting the Sun’s light into an underground wonderland of activity. I have a pretty good feeling that as we restore the connection between our old vines and these minerals we will enjoy an amplification of both nutritional value and longevity in our wines. This feels worth doing for so many reasons!
The past three years have been extremely low yielding and therefore very challenging for us. We are so grateful to have made any wines at all! Efferus is the only red wine made from our 2019 vintage, from a single puncheon (480L). In 2020 the yields were again extremely low and we made a single puncheon of Timaeus and a single barrique (225L) of Archaeus from the vintage, no Efferus. There was no Fluus made in either year. The 2021 vintage is maturing in our cellar and if the wines make it through the coming summer and show well, we will make a single puncheon of Timaeus and two barriques of Archaeus! Again there will be no Efferus. For our Riesling, Semillon and Muscat au petit grains, the yields were similarly low. Next year there will be around 340 bottles of Quomodo and around 700 bottles of Solumodo. Currently, I’m not happy enough with these to release them but time can be a magical thing with wine, here’s hoping. No Quomodo or Solumodo was made in 2020. In the cellar we currently have a single hogshead (300L) of Quomodo and a single hogshead of Solumodo from the 2021 harvest. They look quite promising and thankfully we purchased a little fruit from the interesting Stonegarden vineyard here in Eden valley. This will give us an opportunity to blend another Sallio in the coming years. After enduring the past three years we feel very grateful for the wines from the 2018 vintage. There is a good amount of Sallio available. Quomodo and Solumodo have joined Archaeus as single vineyard wines from our home here in Eden valley. We are very excited by this and look forward to accumulating a narrative for this special site. This left us with some very good parcels of old vine Riesling and a little extra old vine Muscat for the 2018 Sallio blend.
The wines for this release continue to show the deliberate and considered effort to maximize the savoriness and longevity in our wines. Again they are a wonderful accompaniment to food. Due to the dry years they have a little extra structure and strength but the alcohol levels remain in balance. There are low volumes of all wines, but in particular the Archaeus, only 256 bottles were made and 56 of those will be tucked away in our museum. Sadly there is no Fluus." Abel, Ruggabellus.