Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bailey-ing Out

Sad news that week that two of the wine world's more interesting winemakers have died. Didier Dagueneau, the wild man who took Pouilly Fumé to another dimension, was killed in a microlight, while Bailey Carrodus, the quiet but passionate founder of Yarra Yering, also passed away. A couple of years ago, Wine & Spirit did a feature about 'small producers' and I was asked to write something about one of my favourites - I chose Bailey....


Suddenly Bailey Carrodus was somewhere else. ‘Oh look, two sulphur-crested cockatoos.’ It was 1988, and I was a backpacker visiting the Yarra Valley in a beaten-up Ford Escort. I’d been working in a bottle shop in Melbourne where I’d been captivated by the wines of Yarra Yering. Their purity and elegance stood out above the Australian norm, while their labels – like photocopies of photocopies of shaky handwriting – also differentiated them from the masses.

On that day in 1988, the welcome he extended to this scruffy young Pom was just the same as that for the well-heeled Melbournites in their top-of-the-range Holdens who’d arrived at the cellar door at the same time. Not unfriendly, but at the same time detached – you sensed that part of him was operating in a parallel dimension. He had wine to sell, but he was far more captivated by the (stunning) view from his hillside estate.

I’ve met Bailey a few times since, and that other-worldliness has if anything increased with time. He’s a man who moves at his own pace, makes his own decisions and isn’t too swayed by public opinion. Nevertheless, public opinion says that his wines are very good, especially the reds. Though past normal retiring age, Carrodus is still experimenting. He has Portuguese grapes, Sangiovese and Barbera, and on my last visit to the winery, there was a barrel in the cellar of what he called ‘Cheeky Tart Viognier’, an astonishingly creamy and aromatic wine which has been lightly fortified. Truly a small but perfectly formed winery.


Megan said...


My name is Megan Peterson, and I work at an Internet map-content start-up company in Boulder, Colorado. I just perused your Drinking Outside The Box blog. In general, we’re trying to bring information about wine (among other interests like public art, hiking, etc.) onto the Internet (Google maps, for example) as well as onto GPS devices and in-car navigation units. Our initial focus is on the US, Canada & UK. Our site will be structured and dynamic, driven by our users who will create and edit content (like a Wikipedia page). Also, our site will be free to all users, registered or not.

I'm very interested in having you participate in our closed site review occurring in several weeks. Essentially, we’d give you login information, have you create a user profile, peruse the site (i.e. the wine bars and wineries), and give us detailed feedback. Also, we will enable you to invite others who may be interested in our site. Ideally, you enjoy and contribute to our site, and blog about it. We’re hoping this is something you’d be interested in.

Thanks for your time. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I look forward to your response.


Megan Peterson
Marketing Specialist

Wine Time said...

I was there in 1988, recently disgorged from one of those holdens you wrote about. I was on a wine tour out of Melbourne with my Aunt and Uncle. I don't know how or why we ended up at Yarra Yering, which seems a fitting way to arrive there. To be met by an eccentric character who offered us wine to taste. I took a sip and grimaced, it was awful. I'd never had a cask sample before and it was tough and tannic. Bailey smiled as I pulled a face and spat it out. "Keep it a few years and tell me then that you don't like it". Well, I didn't stay in Oz for much longer but my relatives ended up drinking the stuff several years later and declaring it one of the best wines they had drunk. Over the years my mind has returned to from time to time to that particular place at that particular time. Pure serendipity but I treasure my fleeting moments with Bailey Carrodus.