From the Eucharist to Peter Gabriel’s 1989 eerie panpipe instrumental, bread and wine have long enjoyed a symbiosis. While a bakery may not be the first place you’d expect to come across grape juice slowly ticking through fermentation on the journey to becoming wine, it does make some sense. For the second year Bourke St Bakery and winemaker and distributor Alex Retief have collaborated to produce The Bourke St Bakery Natural Wine Project.
While it’s somewhat of a mouthful, the name comes not just from the collaborators but also the method by which the wine is made. In wine terms, the word “natural” refers allowing the fermentation to occur from yeast that is present in the atmosphere, rather than adding commercially bought yeast.
With natural being a bit of a buzzword at the moment, Retief and Bourke St Bakery founder and baker David McGuinness have taken the project to a new level of creativity. A half tonne of fruit was brought into the shop in a big fruit bin and, says Retief, “We pretty much left it to do it’s own thing.” The fermentation began naturally due to the large amount of yeast present in the bakery already. The beauty of the project comes from both Retief and McGuinness’ mutual expertise; the most common yeast in both winemaking and baking is almost identical, meaning there was no risk of spoilage.
No stranger to Iberian varieties, this year Retief sourced Tempranillo from a grower in the Hilltops region just outside of Canberra. The fruit has been made into a joven wine, made deliberately for drinking early (the name itself means “young” or “youth” in Spanish).
The wine was bottled last week in the shop by hand and is now available from both the Potts Points store and also Wilbur’s Place. This year the team only made around 40 dozen bottles so make sure you get in quick before it’s sold out. A glass is $8.50, bottle $29.