Walsh & Sons
When I asked Ryan Walsh whether he was Walsh or Sons, he told me it wasn’t quite that simple. Ryan has a few sons of his own, several brothers, and he sources his fruit from a vineyard planted and worked by his father and another owned by his wife’s family. It's perhaps better to think of it as Walsh & Family, but the lines blur even then.
Growing up in a farm, Ryan was exposed first hand to the same manner of organic agriculture which would come to define his winemaking and viticulture. The combination of seeing organic, low intervention farming alongside the growing Walsh family caused Ryan to realise, “The wines I was producing were as interesting as the personalities growing up around me.” A sentiment he pays homage to by naming his wines after his children, nieces and nephews.
Ryan’s family had moved from farming to "vines and olives" in 1994 and Ryan, now more than a little familiar with grapes and wines, set off to travel and study viticulture and winemaking, picking up different philosophies as he went.
The Walsh & Sons label would first came out in 2013 with a Syrah, followed by his first Red Blend in 2014. The label has sold primarily direct to wholesale as Ryan does not find himself up in the city all that often. A fact which made our chance to meet him and try his wines all the more special.
We found Ryan to be unassuming and lovely. We asked if he subscribed to minimal intervention winemaking and he joked “Yes, but that might just be me being lazy”.
The Walsh & Sons wines were subtle and delicious. We were amazed at the butteriness of the first wine of the night, the Little Poppet semillon chardonnay blend, Ryan told us the butteriness came from the reduction of skin contact with the grape juice during fermentation. With this in mind we were even more surprised to find the full Burnside Chardonnay to be so subtle and refined. The chardonnay definitely stole the night for us, which Ryan suggested was, “Crisp enough to cut through the butter,” and we couldn’t have agreed more.
Onto reds, we tasted the Felix Syrah. Syrah is the name which Shiraz grapes go by throughout the rest of the world, and some contemporary winemakers have eschewed the Australia specific ’Shiraz’ in order to reflect a lower alcohol, subtler and more acidic style of wine. Ryan told us that “Finding the most possible texture at the lowest possible alcohol is the struggle for every winemaker”. We found the Syrah chalky, subtle, and vibrant. We finished the official tasting with the Roi Cabernet Sauvignon, a warm and beautiful wine named after Ryan’s oldest son.
As is becoming Grape to Glass tradition, Ryan brought a fifth wine for sampling, this time the Lola Red Blend, a beautiful blend of syrah, cabernet and grenache which we found lovely and left us hungry for something to eat alongside it.
Grape To Glass
We love the Gordon Street Garage and it was lovely to be there for a Grape To Glass. We took over the upstairs function area which made for a lovely little tuck-away. By now there are a few familiar faces amongst the many new ones, and we were delighted to have a chance to drink fine wine with lovely people, and to have Ryan right there with us to help us fall even more in love with the wines.
Next in Neighbourhood Event Co.'s Grape To Glass series is Ministry of Clouts at Helvetica on August 31st followed by LS Merchants at Young Love Mess Hall on September 21st.
See the rest of our coverage of Grape To Glass.