Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood are the husband and wife duo behind Ministry of Clouds. They believe they are “two corporate refugees who relinquished past security and structure (ministry) in search of freedom, independence and adventure (clouds)”.
They had experience in the wine industry working for renowned Australian. In 2012, the pair decided to take fate into their own hands and create Ministry of Clouds. In 2013, all six wines from their first release rated between 94 and 97 points in James Halliday’s 2015 Wine Companion, with Halliday also featuring Ministry of Clouds in his ‘Top 10 New Wineries’ list.
McLaren Vale is the heartland, where the reds are made with grapes from their own 11ha plot and other carefully selected, often ancient vines. They favour a modern take on classic styles and show meticulous attention to detail. The whites – a crystalline, dry Clare Valley Riesling and Tasmanian Chardonnay – hail from these distant but proven regions.
Taste of freedom…
Without having the luxury of a preordained family history in wine, we relish the freedom and opportunity to cast our net far from the more established white wine regions closer to our home. Looking to embody the frontier spirit of Tasmania, deeply cool and remote, it seems fitting to us that this wine is brought to life in the bowels of the ground breaking and original MONA art gallery site.
We continue our obsession with Chardonnay, drinking and thinking about the best examples of this grape that we can find. Though we applaud the fine, flinty, and cordite-laden styles that the best Australian wines exhibit, we also love the balanced intensity and power evident in the best of Burgundy. To this end, this wine is sourced from an exquisite 37 year old north easterly facing vineyard sitting 75 meters above the Derwent River, and supplemented by fruit from a prominent Coal River vineyard. All fruit was handpicked then whole bunch pressed to largely old barrels for ferment. Post fermentation, all barrels were topped and sulphured to prevent MLF and retain natural acidity. Lees were lightly stirred only for the early part of maturation to build texture and complexity. Matured in old oak for 11 months.
A pure and tightly wound wine showing the muscle and intensity of the low yielding Derwent Valley site, and the fineness and acid line synonymous with the Coal River Valley. A shy and somewhat restraint nose exuding white flowers, peach, nectarine characters, and subtle hints of nougat and wood spice. On the palate, a bedrock of chalky minerality supports a core of intense stone fruit, framing its lingering acidity.
Ideal serving temperature is 12°C, and we love this wine with our homemade Japanese inspired Salmon Carpaccio garnished with avocado, nori, enoki mushrooms, sesame and a perky yuzu, citrus peel and soy dressing. Drink up to 5 years for a more complex expression…
We control what we can, the rest is chance.
Grenache delivers what Pinot promises…
A celebration of the dogged stubbornness of three McLaren Vale families, who persisted with their plots of Grenache, when other implored them to turn their land to other pursuits. From very old bush vines each vineyard eighty years plus, we make a contemporary Grenache with fragrance, succulence and fine boned structure (a little like our favourite Pinots!!). Viva la Grenache!
Hand harvested from a trio of vineyards ranging from 80 to 96 years of age and situated in the higher climes of Blewitt Springs and Clarendon. Planted into deep Aeolian sand these sites express a spicy, more modestly built, and slender expression of McLaren Vale Grenache. We lightly de-stemmed 85% of the fruit to retain whole berries, including the balance as whole bunches. Ferments were started wild in traditional open fermenters, with hand plunging twice daily to wet the caps, but not so vigorous as to macerate the stalks. After 12 days on skins, we basket pressed each parcel to a mixture of old oak puncheons and a 1000 litre foudre. Maturation was undertaken on fine lees to build mid palate texture and for the reductive benefit to avoid Grenache’s predisposition to oxidation. 11 months only in old oak to allow the blend to come together and bottled young before any meaningful oak influence can be seen.
Entwined within a complex deep core of red and purple fruit aromas, violets, earth and herb tinged; the palate is pure with old-vine flesh, calming depth and purity, but kept necessarily fresh by grainy tannins and a bright line of natural acid.
Ideal serving temperature is 16 °C, we suggest you try with your local version of the food of the many homes Grenache – the various cures of black pig from Spain, the toasted wild yeast bread and smashed tomato of the Priorat, and the smoked veal sausages of the Rhone Valley. Cool cellaring between to 5 years to 8 years will be rewarded.
This vintage is lead by a parcel of 97 year old bush vine Grenache planted high in the cool climes of Clarendon, blended with a multi-clonal pick of Blewitt Springs Mataro, a parcel of our best Patritti Shiraz, and a small amount of Cinsault. All picked by hand, the Grenache, Mataro, and Shiraz, were all fermented in open vessels with a small inclusion of whole bunch, the Cinsault was 100% whole berry ferment. Ferments were worked very gently, largely by plunging only, but left on skins for longer than any of our other parcels. Basket pressed to 100% old French oak, matured separately for 10 months before assembly as a final blend and allowed another 6 months maturation to knit together before bottling.
An elegant, floral wine, showing the aromatic red fruit lift, and depth of spice from old vine Grenache and the Cinsault, buried underneath is the intense blue fruits and violets of dry grown Mataro and Shiraz. Layered and long this wine exhibits a tightly wound core of dense red berried crunchy fruit, framed by persistent sandy tannins, and bright acidity.
Ideal serving temperature is 16 °C, please take the time to splash in a decanter for as long as you can – we love our blended wines with paprika spiced chicken, roasted hot and fast, or grilled, with Moroccan Couscous flavoured with chorizo, kale, pistachio, and preserved lemon. Cool cellaring for 5 to 10 years will be rewarded.
Q: Mataro, Mourvedre, or Monastrell? A: It doesn’t matter, just think beast!
Ever the blender, Mataro rarely gets to shine individually in Australia, but here is its chance… The worst vegetarian wine in the world, Mataro famous for its robust intricate tannins begs to be consumed alongside a slab of beast – fatty, barbequed, flame grilled meat… Unleash your inner carnivore!
Sourced largely from a sloping Blewitt Springs vineyard, planted into deep wind-blown sand to highlight aromatics and fine grained structure. Dry grown, producing thick skinned and small berried grapes, we hand picked all fruit to ensure delicacy, then lightly de-stemmed to retain whole berries, and cold soaked before fermentation to capture aromatics. Fermentation was in open vessels with daily pump overs, before basket pressing to old French oak barriques for 13 months maturation.
Shy and brooding, this is a bright but deep expression of Mataro. A complex nose of clove, cardamom, fennel seeds, Provencal herbs, and the whole butcher’s shop… On the palate, a compact core of blue fruits subtly supported by creamy oak, and carried by a ferruginous driving tannin structure, which carries the fruit through the mouth.
Ideal serving temperature is 16 °C, please take the time to splash in a decanter for as long as you dare – and serve with your family BBQ – spicy Chinese chicken wings with turmeric and garlic, Italian pork and fennel sausages, or black cardamom spiced skirt steak flashed over open coals. Cool cellaring between to 5 years to 15 years will be rewarded.
No where to hide…
Of all the many grape varieties, Riesling is the most transparent expression of a vineyard site. We have long loved the more crystalline expressions of Clare Valley Riesling, which embrace the exquisite risk inherent in delicacy and fragility. Never a wine about winemaker ego, or manhandling in the winery, just purity…
Please handle gently.
Approximately 50% of the fruit for this wine comes from the hungry rocky soils shared by two high altitude vineyards in the rugged Hills of Penwortham and Sevenhill. The resulting bunches and berries are tiny, but intense. They ripen late in the season but throw a rapier lean acid line. To provide balance, the remaining 50% is sourced from a slightly more fertile northfacing patch in Watervale planted in the 1960’s on red loam over quartz providing more generosity, weight and flavour.
A deliberately delicate expression of Clare Valley Riesling, exhibiting lifted floral notes, kaffir lime, freshly squeezed lemon juice, grapefruit peel, bath salts, and underlying talc. Classic citrus notes are complimented by the mouth-watering chalky and mineral texture on the palate, finishing with a fine and taut acid line.
Ideal serving temperature is 10 °C, drink with pristine South Australian oysters - freshly shucked - served natural (or with a splash of rizza for flavour). Also suited to cellar for up to 10 years for a more complex and intriguing Riesling expression..
Bottled: June 2018
We control what we can, the rest is chance,
Sand & Stones may break my bones, but geology will never hurt me…
Born of one of the most ancient and geologically diverse wine regions in the world, McLaren Vale, this wine is made from Australia’s most ubiquitous grape – Shiraz. With the aim that this Shiraz reflects our view of the region, we combine a famed dry grown Blewitt Springs deep sandy vineyard, and a younger more structured and fragrant parcel from the shallow old rocks of our own Seaview site in the hope of a more modern, slender and youthful expression.
We hand picked each parcel to preserve freshness and vibrancy, keeping 5% as whole bunches, and gently destemming the balance to retain whole berries, we allowed it to cold soak for 2-3 days to capture aromatics. Fermentation commenced naturally, it was hand plunged or pumped over and tasted twice daily to assess flavour and colour extraction. After a gentle basket press, the wine was matured in a 5000 litre old Freinch oak foudre, and a selection of 500l puncheons. Bottled without fining or filtration.
Layers of cool blue and red fruit lift with layers of allspice and cardamom to entice, supported by a gentle creaminess, which progresses to the palate exhibiting a deep fruit weight kept bright, nervy, and fleshy and filed down nicely by fine and savoury tannin line.
Ideal serving temperature is 16 °C... God forbid a Shiraz that won’t dominate all food placed before it. Try with spicy Catalan Fish Stew with grilled rye and aioli. Cool cellaring between 5 years to 8 years will be rewarded.
Take a single vineyard, planted to only one varietal – Shiraz, pick two separate sections a week apart, both sites with their roots deep in the Maslin Sand laid over Ironstone. This fruit was hand harvested gently destemmed for a whole berry ferment in old open French oak fermenters with 10% whole bunch included. Pumped over daily to ensure appropriate colour and flavour extraction, and then basket pressed to a mixture of French oak puncheons and hogsheads for 18 months maturation.
A surprisingly cool fruited, but dense and bright expression of Blewitt Springs Shiraz. Gently complex, with spicy blue and black berries, layers of nutmeg, violets, and a gentle creamy nuttiness from French oak. On the palate, it exhibits a finely wrought core of dark berried fruit, framed by persistent sandy tannins, and kept taut by a line of natural acidity.
Ideal serving temperature is 16 °C, please take the time to splash in a decanter for as long as you dare – and serve with your favourite Sunday Roast – either Chinese roast pork, slow roasted Lamb shoulder with onion and garlic, or a standing beef rib roast with duck fat potatoes. Cool cellaring between to 5 years to 15 years will be rewarded. ,
Inspired by our eating adventures in San Sebastian, immersed in the timeless pinchos bars surrounded by endless morsels of deliciousness, we wanted to create a versatile ‘eating’ wine designed to grace the table. With versatility in mind, we combined spicy and fragrant Tempranillo from both Blewitt Springs and the foothills of the McLaren Range, with a selection of old vine Grenaches.
Two vineyards of Tempranillo, one cool Blewitt Springs site, and one McLaren Flat Foothills vineyard were picked both by hand, we retained 20% whole-bunch, fermented another 10% by carbonic maceration, and de-stemmed the balance to retain whole berries for traditional open ferment. With a desire to retain freshness and vibrancy and to build a wider aromatic profile on the Tempranillo, it was left to the Grenache component to provide mid palate intensity. Old vine Grenache from three blocks ranging from 80 years to 44 years of age were de-stemmed and fermented in large open vats, with daily pump overs. After basket pressing the wine was matured in a mixture of stainless steel, old French oak barriques, and to two large old oak foudres for 7 months maturation before bottling.
This wine combines bright notes of pomegranate, sarsaparilla, violets and nutmeg typical of dry grown Tempranillo, with the perfume and succulence of old vine Grenache. This medium bodied wine is pretty, juicy and deliberately moreish. A lithe and juicy wine, it errs on the blood orange, cherry, red berry spectrum supported by savoury tannins built around a fine boned structure.
Ideal serving temperature is 16°C... Enjoy over a shared grazing meal, this food friendly versatile wine works a treat with a good selection of flavours from a platter of cured meats to, chorizo prawns to pizzas, pastas, quail and duck dishes. Cool cellaring between to 5 years to 8 years will be rewarded.
Varieties: 77% Tempranillo, 23% Grenache Alcohol: 14.2%
We control what we can, the rest is chance,