In Margaret River for vintage, David Pike looks at an ambitious project from a noted winemaker.

AS March draws to a close so too does the harvesting of white grapes in Margaret River. It is now up to the winemakers to craft the wines into bottled gold.

Most whites are happily chugging through fermentation, creating a delightful aroma from the tank farms and barrel rooms.

Launching a new wine label in the current climate is a challenging experience. But launching a new wine label made up of varieties that can all be termed ‘hand-sell varieties’ is an even bigger challenge. If you were going to choose someone to undertake such a venture then Robin Day would certainly be at the top of many lists.

Domain Day is, in fact, a new label for Robin Day. From a location in the lofty heights of Mt Crawford (south east of Barossa), Robin has established his vineyard with an eclectic mix of traditional and emerging varieties. Merlot, pinot noir and riesling have been planted alongside sangiovese, voignier, saperavi and garganega, Robin says.

And he’s excited about a small holding of sangrantino to be planted later this year. 

For the past eight years Mr Day has been coordinating Orlando Wyndham International wine development, a position involving the establishment of vineyards, strategic plans and wine businesses in South Africa, Chile, the US, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Romania, Georgia and New Zealand.

No doubt this has provided a helpful insight into how the unusual varieties he has chosen can perform and how to present them for sale.

With Domain Day, Mr Day hopes to use his experience to provide a type of mentoring system with his employees. “The vineyard is more than just growing vines; I want the people I have employed in the vineyard to be actively learning and gaining knowledge about the end product,” he says.

“To foster a mentor situation I feel like I would be able to with a hands-on approach give something back to the industry through working at Domain Day.” 

Setting up a new label and encouraging people to buy his wine? Mr Day says it is important to work from the market back, not have a bucket load of fruit and then start working out what to do with the grapes.

It sounds a simple enough philosophy, however there are still people out there doing this.

“The point is that to sell you don’t need huge volumes, just the ability to have a product that will sell,” Mr Day says. “A strategic market plan for your business will help identify some of the selling issues and probably the most important would be having a point of difference.

“I have been out of the country for the past eight or so years and have been surprised at the response to getting out there and selling my own product. Sure it helps, given my background and industry contacts, but retailers are still looking for a product that will sell.

“As a small producer I needed to look at positioning and the most important factor of positioning is having a point of difference. Mine revolves around having all wines in stelvin closures (screw caps) and the varieties I have planted.

“I don’t believe that if you are trialling new varieties that you keep it under wraps until you feel it will be accepted. The willingness to talk about the wine will keep the door open.”

Domain Day, with its state-of-the-art vineyard, has certainly got all the ingredients in place  to ensure this new label is a winner.

Domain Day Riesling 2002 rrp $21 17/20

There is plenty of pedigree in these four-year old riesling vines. This first release shows plenty of promise. Mineral and mandarin citrus notes greet you. The palate leads you through those mineral notes you get on the nose but adds lemon-lime citrus, plenty of lively acidity and a handy length of finish.

Domain Day Sangiovese 2002 rrp $28 18/20

This wine offers plenty and, while not yet displaying a host of complexity, it is a delicious drink. It contains sweet fruits that show brambles, black cherries and plums. There are some spice notes and complem-enting tannin with a length of flavour.

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