We recently sat down with Mount Pleasant Senior Winemaker Adrian Sparks to gain some insights into how his mind ticks.
Q: What was the moment that made you realise you wanted to be a winemaker?
A: Working as a cellar-hand, I was in the barrel hall looking at hundreds of different types of barrels. I told the then winemaker if he just had one type of barrel it would make blending and winemaking easier. He explained to me that each barrel is unique, even the same barrels from the same coopers impart minute differences to the wine, and that blending is an art in which you need all different components to make the best wines. At the next tasting the winemaker showed me what he meant. It was amazing the differences you could see, even as a complete novice taster. It blew me away.
Q: What is your favourite vintage tradition?
A: Growing beards [laughs] . The vineyard trips to taste grapes every day from the same block. Each day they change, transforming and maturing until they are perfectly ripe to pick.
Q: Name one wine in the McWilliam’s portfolio that resonates with you.
A: 1946 Vines Rosehill shiraz. I love history and this vineyard has a great one, being planted by Maurice O’Shea straight after WW2. The wines from it are intriguing, complex, completely unique and I believe cannot be reproduced from any other vineyard in the world. .
Q: Name an Australian celebrity that best describes your wine making style.
A: Steve Waugh because I want to make the best wines possible. Steve wanted the Australian cricket team to be the best and built a platform for that to happen. He had the right resources, team and the want to succeed, which is the same recipe used to create great wines.
Q: If you could create your ideal wine, what would it be and how would you create it?
A: I would love to make a Shiraz with fruit from the Old Paddock, planted by Maurice O’Shea in 1921, his first year at Mount Pleasant. Only using the tools he had then; no electricity, concrete fermenters, wooden presses, large oak vats and bottles of all different sorts. Crafting a great wine using the winemaking techniques of that era would be a really exciting and challenging project.
Q: What should you be drinking now and what should you be cellaring?
A: Drinking aged Hunter reds and cellaring any Lovedale Semillon.
Q: What are you excited about over the next 12 months?
A: The blending and release of the 2014 Hunter reds. It will be amazing to be a part of something so special.