At Chalmers we love to experiment, our branded range of Italian varietals is testament to that. Since 2012 we have been going one step further with our small batch #bucketwine project at our Mildura vineyards. This site holds all 70 Chalmers Italian selections; we trial different picking times, techniques and blends, as well as some varieties which have never been vinified in Australia before – just for fun.
Bucketwines were made in glass demijohns with no equipment but a bucket, a sieve and a hydrometer. The only addition a little sulphur when bottled by hand in 640ml beer bottles with a crown seal. We didn’t recommend these wines for cellaring, instead we hoped they would be consumed with fervour and interest; as time has rolled on though there have been older bucket wines popping up around the place and still looking fab.
Bucketwine explored varieties like nosiola, garganega, greco, malvasia, refosco dal peduncolo rosso, schioppettino, mammolo, pavana, picolit, et al.
In 2015 #bucketwine grew up. We went from 20 litre buckets and glass demijohns to 500kg fruit bins and 200 litre stainless steel barrels. We decided to downsize to a succinct range of 10 wines (in 2014 we did over 50 bucket wine ferments!) and upscale slightly to batches of 5-20 dozen.
The concept remains the same – to trial all kinds of techniques and explore our varieties, and now utilising grapes from both our Mildura and Heathcote sites, and push ideas further than we can within the structure of our regular branded range. The new Chalmers Project wines are as colourful and varied as their bold labels suggest.
“These wines are just pure, unadulterated fermented grape juice, remember: nothing added except a little sulphur at bottling. It’s a thrill to taste the distinctive crunchy pear-like character of the northern Italian arneis grape – such a contrast to the fabulous, ripe, tongue-coating sunshiney richness of the southern Italian greco grape, even though the two were grown side-by-side in Merbein. It’s a thrill, too, to compare the soft, leathery, violet-scented red Tuscan variety mammolo with the nervy, citrus-and-cardamom spiciness of the red Friulian variety schioppettino. Bart is almost wide-eyed with the revelation of it all: he’s just been blown away by the fact that these grapes can produce delicious wines in a hot climate without needing any of the usual acid and yeast and enzyme additions employed by most Australian winemakers.” Max Allen, Weekend Australian, September 2013
“Sitting in a glass in front of me is a wickedly good pinot grigio, perhaps the best of it’s ilk I’ve tasted from Australia and certainly the most interesting. There’s perfume galore, crunchy acid and fresh-cut pear and red apple. It’s vital, alive, nervy and one of 18 bottles in a set of 24 wines… by Kim and Tennille Chalmers and Kim’s husband Bart van Olphen, of Chalmers Wines in Victoria. They call them ‘bucket wines’.” Tony Harper, Brisbane News, August 2013
Chalmers Project & Bucketwines are made by: Bart van Olphen and Tennille Chalmers
For more information go to www.chalmerswine.com.au