introduction to hastings river
We ended our Australian tour with a visit in a vineyard in the Hastings River wine region : Cassegrain!
This region is located in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales. The first vineyard was planted in the nineteenth century but the modern era of wine started in 1980 thanks to the establishment of pioneering family producers like Cassegrain. The top varieties grown in this region are Chardonnay, Semillon, Chambourcin, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho which is a star variety in Hastings River.
Cassegrain is a multi-regional producer and buy grapes from different places in New South Wales. Thus, they can focus on the strengths of the different vineyard parcels and buy grapes with excellent characteristic flavours in order to blend fruit and produce excellent wines.
The Cassegrain family descends from an old french winemaking family and comes over Australia in the 80s. Cassegrain wines represent two cultures: Australia offers its technology and technique to produce wines that are authentic to style and elegant, while France brings its know-how and traditions in wine. John Cassegrain led the winery for more than 30 years, and his French heritage and unique winemaking experience has shaped the distinctive house style.
Family tradition is a vital ingredient at the heart of the past with French traditions in their production, and important for present and future of Cassegrain Wines with two son who grew up in the vineyard and helped in the family business throughout the years.
our time at cassegrain
During our visit we met Alex, one of John’s son, he completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Viticulture and Oenology. Then he developed his hands-on experience in Tasmania and France. Now he works as Senior Winemaker at Cassegrain Wines.
We’ve visited their cellar and participated in a tasting session of wines fermenting in tanks or barrels. We had the chance to taste wines from the 2019 vintage. Alex explained us the story of each wine and their winemaking methods and the characteristics of their terroir. For instance, we tasted some Verdello with a delicate tropical and floral character, Sauvignon Blanc with passion fruit aroma as well as a delicious Viognier with banana, apricot and strawberry aromas!
We discovered that there are laws in Australia that prevent wineries from adding sugar to the wines (unless for MCC - sparkling wines). However, if you still want to increase the sugar level, you can add grapes concentrate but it’s very expensive. On the other side, it’s allowed to add acids.
We also learned that currently they make 45% are their sales overseas and this percentage keeps on growing and should reach 70% in the coming years. Japan is their biggest market at the moment. They also pay close attention to China where importations are steadily increasing: Australian wines have the best price per liter, notably thanks to the geographical proximity. The Cassegrain team would rather sell their wines overseas even though costs are higher because they believe the Australian market is flooded and quite flat.