Dewey Station Wines is the work of husband and wife team Stefan and Eleanor Dewey. When we tasted the Dewey Station wines, we were struck by the vivid colours, floral lift and high toned fruit. They did however, still transmit the essence of rich full bodied Barossan fruit, without being in any way heavy or cloying on the palate. Refreshing acidity and soft velvet tannins complete the picture. We wouldn’t call them traditional, but by no means are they avante garde. Ripe and bright, certainly – flamboyantly elegant even. Just when I thought I knew what the Barossa Valley was all about, Dewey Station Wines comes puffing along, suggesting that there’s plenty I didn’t know.
Q. How would you describe your wine style?
We wanted to show the elegance that you can create with Barossa reds. Pretty, fruit purity, florals and yet still retaining their Barrossan identity. Its funny how some of the more concentrated vintages, the ones which are said to be the best, don’t always work for the style that we are trying to make. We really like 2017 and 2019. Freshness, savouriness, lifted fruit and longer tannins.
Q. But how do you do ‘different’? Avant garde wine producers are doing different, very differently.
Picking early is something we do, but not too early. The fruit still needs to be ripe, and we are in the Barossa Valley which is all about ripeness. I really dislike green, bitter notes or sour fruit. Ripeness is key, but keeping it fresh is the challenge. We do use some whole bunches, up to 50%. Fermentations are kept cool, and we try to keep the berries as whole as possible. Pump overs are very regular but short. The cap needs to stay moist, but the gentler we work the fruit, the more berries we keep whole. So maximum flavour and colour extraction, without those really hard tannins. Acidity is key for me. Acid needs to be adjusted as early as possible, for integration and better colour. I really like elevated fruit profiles with floral notes.
Q. What about the oak? Has oak lost its cool?
Once you’ve worked a few vintages of a vineyard, you really get to know it, and what it takes to bring out the best. Knowing the style of wine you want to end up with is key, and this makes your decision-making all the more simpler. It’s crucial that decisions are made quickly. You can really let a wine get away from you if you stand there scratching. I like to use Allier oak, which for me has a sort of burnt caramel characteristic. This works really well with the fruit from around Ebenezer. But I like to experiment too, so for the 2020 vintage I’ve got some American oak as well. Oak needs concentrated fruit, and that’s why it works so well in the Barossa. The two go so well together, and for me, that’s part of the Barossan style.
Q. Is your wine influenced by others or is it definitely your own voice?
We know what we’re trying to achieve, so we make wines the way we like them. Engagement is really important to us, and we have to sell what we make. No one likes to be criticised, but I really think people are liking our approach.
Q. If you could make wine anywhere else, where would it be?
I like Italian wine, wines with acid. But I think my favourite would have to be Rioja. I absolutely bloody love Graciano. This is the favourite wine for me to make and drink. Such a shame that it’s always blended away, and generally underappreciated in Australia. It’s got less fruit direction compared to Shiraz and Cabernet. More of a savoury angle and florals. I love florals! Everytime you look at it in the glass there’s always something different. We get our Graciana off a beautiful vineyard in Moppa, renowned for making some of the Barossa’s biggest reds. To make a wine as elegant as this, I love it.
Q. Are there any producers that have been a great influence on you?
Stuart Bourne from Soul Growers. One of the better blokes you’ll meet and bloody smart too. He retains information, never dumps it. Such a pillar of knowledge who knows his vineyards and what he can achieve with them. He’s always happy to share his secrets of the Barossa, or give a helpful opinion. He’s a great operator who makes incredible wines. That being said, I don’t want to make wines like him. I said to you before that 2017 was a vintage that really suited our style, where he prefers 2018, for the style he’s trying to make. More classic Barossa, I suppose.
Q. And plans for the future?
We would definitely love our own vineyard and cellar door, and a train from the car park to the cellar door. Don’t forget the train! We’re starting from scratch, so it’s a slow build. The Barossa’s really expensive, so we are trying to grow our production every vintage, and so far we’ve been able to do this and sell our wine as well. Our wine style is what we like to drink, and I reckon the response has been really positive. 2021 will see us making our first Chenin Blanc, probably in the style of a Chardonnay. Fermented on full solids, oak and lees. I really love the nutty and reductive characters. But I may do at least two pickings, to blend in higher acid fruit to retain freshness and tension. We’ll see. I’ve never made Chenin before, so I’m really excited. Got to keep trialling, got to keep trying.