To produce the “Nine Popes” Barossa Valley Charles Melton both whole bunch fermentation and destemmed, un-crushed berries were used during the maceration period, to ensure the greatest degree of fragrance. Cool fermentation temperatures and careful cap management lead to the silky texture and density that the Popes is known for. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation in a mix of old and new oak, where it remained for 18 months. The wine was then transferred to new French oak for a further twelve months prior to natural settling and bottling.The Grenache in this blend comes from old bush vines in the Barossa valley, many of which are over 80 years old. The Mourvèdre is also from a small parcel of bush vines, at higher altitude in the Eden Valley, whilst the Shiraz is trellis grown in the Barossa valley. The blend is made up primarily of grapes from Charles Melton’s prime vineyards, with fruit from a small number of trusted partner growers. The low-yielding, dry farmed old vines produce grapes of great concentration. Charles Melton was one of the first to recognise the value and tradition of the Barossa Valley’s old-vine Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre (Mataro). While others were grubbing up Shiraz to plant more fashionable varieties, Charles and a small band of Barossa winemakers were convincing farmers to keep their historic vineyards. These wines were initially styled on those from the Rhône, but are now considered leading examples in their own right. Since 1984, Charles Melton has produced premium Barossa red wines which have wonderful balance and freshness, with the use of French oak giving them a supple texture and poise. The grapes are dry-grown, chemical free and harvested from the winery’s own vineyards in Tanunda and Lyndoch. The estate vineyards now comprise 32 hectares, the oldest planted in 1947 and the balance planted from the late 1960s onwards. The estate vineyards are supplemented by other growers with whom Charles has worked for a number of years. The oldest grower block dates from the 1880s, with numerous vines ranging between 70 and 100 years old.