My first encounter with Soumah was a memorable one some years back. It was recommended as a unique wine that I might like by our local boutique wine purveyor. He was right, the Chardonnay and the Savarro we tasted were very different, it made a positive impression, one that I never forgot the name nor the label of this winery.
Heading off to visit Soumah was on my mind since visiting Rochford a few months ago, noticing the sign at the same turn off on the Maroondah highway. On this occasion driving past Rochford Wines, the landscape turns from flat highway into the rolling hills of vines of the Warramate foothills. It is a bit of narrow lane driving and when you arrive at Soumah of Yarra Valley, the signage says "You've found us", no kidding, it takes a bit of navigating to get there but in the age of sat nav and Google maps, not an issue at all.
Soumah (pronounced sow-mah), being an acronym for "South of Maroondah" is a family owned vineyard and winery inspired by the 'elegance and honesty of Northern Italian wines'. The day I arrived it was a beautiful sunny spring afternoon and the cellar door was basically just myself and as I was later to learn one of the owners Cherryl Butcher behind the tasting bar.
The majority of wines from Soumah are single vineyard wines with the exceptions of the cleanskin Chardonnay and the 2011 Cabernet.
2013 Pinot Grigio
With my recent Pinot Gris awakening, this italian take on this variety was very enjoyable. the perfume is fresh with pear. On the palate, stone fruit and under ripe fig. A heavier style for this variety than I have tasted to date in the valley.
This is truly a unique wine, made in the northern Italian style (also known as Savagnin), it was citrus on the nose, sweet floral notes delivering on the citrus promise with a gentle mineral tang and clean finish.
2011 Chardonnay (Clean skin)
Pleasant and very good valued wine.
A super interesting nose with peach and a nuttiness (the tasting notes identified 'roast cashew') that is rather unique. To taste this Chardonnay has citrus and the influences of 30% new oak finishing clean with a crisp apple acidity.
2013 Al Fiori
Made from a combination of Pinot Noir and the aromatic Savagnin, this is an interesting light summary wine with a light pinot spiciness. An easy drinking wine.
2012 Pinot Noir
Again this is a distinctive wine, with cherry and a hint of tobacco on the nose, on the palate are the supple cherries with currents and a touch of pipe tobacco balanced with lengthy tannins.
Herby and white pepper on the noise. Black currents and cassis fruit with a spiciness before the a plummy tartiness finish
This is a powerful Shiraz that certainly shows it's 18 months in new oak. I really enjoyed the small taste of this, however would lay this one away for a few years to soften and integrate.
During the tasting a number of additional visitors arrived, I have to say given the approach some individuals take to communicating their opinions during tastings I have a new found respect for owners who staff and offer a cellar door, inviting feedback of all types.
One aspect that I was pleased to see was the amount of information available at the cellar door to inform the visitor of the place. a booklet on the cellar door tasting counter offered information about the vines and at Soumah to righted down to the clones selected in the vineyard, soil, climate comparisons, the staff and down to the harvest date and information about the grape at harvest.
On the wall in the dining area overlooking the vineyard the is a map (last image in the slide show above) illustrating where all the varieties are planted, clones and local gradients it offers a fascinating level of insight into the vineyard.
- Soumah was established in 1997 by the Butcher family.
- The philosophy behind Soumah is to have a varietal single vineyard focus to making cool climate stylised wines based on Northern Italian and Eastern French regions.
I really enjoyed my visit to Soumah, the selected influences produce some really interesting wines. I walked away with a few bottles namely the 2012 Savarro, 2010 Chardonnay and 2011 Shiraz.
Given the relative youth of this vineyard, there isn't a lot of history to explore on this site and I was really happy to see the amount of information available to the visitor to have a sense of place and what the management of the vineyard and wine maker were doing to produce the results available for taste.
A really interesting vineyard with an interesting product. I am looking forward to returning to taste the Brachetto that is being developed there.