Amphora wine-making, the fermenting and ageing of wines in ceramic vessels based on ancient designs, is fast becoming a notable trend across the world’s wine regions. Years ago, we dug up clay on the farm and got a local potter to handcraft and fire our first amphorae, and we’ve been making amphora wine ever since. Nothing could have suited Avondale’s ethos of slow, traditional wine-making better than these clay vessels, hewn from the earth, with heritage that stretches back thousands of years to Greece , Rome and even earlier.
Over the years, amphora wines have made a notable, fruit-driven contribution to a number of Avondale’s premium wines. Properly fired between 1100 and 1300 degrees, the clay vessels allow for a unique micro-oxygenation. Oak barrels are also somewhat porous and allow this, but in return they infuse the wine with their woody flavours – something ceramics do not do. Stainless steel is impervious to micro-oxygenation, and that has its own effect on the wines.
We find that the beauty of the amphorae’s subtle breath makes for wines with bright, unadulterated fruit and minerality, and softer tannin structures. They are ideal vessels for the whole-bunch pressed, slow-made wines where the focus is on giving the wine time and opportunity to clearly express its true grape character.
While amphora wines may be a current trend for some, Avondale has been making it and blending portions of it into a number of our premium wines for a number of years. Currently available releases such as Cyclus 2014 and Anima 2015 are uniquely enlivened with portions of amphora wine. We have also recently released Avondale Amphora, a wine made of 100% Mourvèrde grapes in a Beaujolais style. You can find out how to experience Avondale Amphora here