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Lake's Folly was the first new vineyard in the Hunter Valley last century, established by Max Lake and his family in 1963 and the first boutique winery in Australia
At the time of its establishment very little premium wine was drunk, there was no capital to invest, and Cabernet was an unproven grape for the area. Its name was almost a foregone conclusion and Lakes Folly was born!
The tradition continues, with the first boutique winery in Australia making only two wines, a red Cabernet blend and a white 100% Chardonnay using all estate grown fruit. The property changed hands in May 2000 to Peter Fogarty. Peter was the chosen buyer because of his wish to maintain the integrity and current direction of the Folly. Six years on, nothing has changed nor is likely to. There are no plans for expansion, small is beautiful.
With a total production of around 4,500 cases, less then a quarter is Chardonnay. Lake's Folly practice the KISS philosophy, 1 red and 1 white, same vintage, same price, life is complicated enough as it is! In the vineyard, quality is derived primarily from the terroir. The old vines, now well and truly self regulated to produce low cropping high quality fruit, are well established and give consistency even in difficult years. The winemaking aspect is very simple. Hand picking, gentle crushing and traditional open fermentation for the reds, barrel fermentation and extended yeast lees contact for the Chardonnay. Judicious use of French oak, small barrel maturation for both, hand bottling and that's it, no more, no less.The most important aspect is great fruit and attention to detail from vineyard to bottle
Only two wines are made at Lakes Folly, all from fruit grown on the estate. A White (Chardonnay) and a Red (a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Shiraz, Merlot and Petit Verdot). Lakes Folly have structured the vineyard to make a more complex wine. The style is restrained and elegant showing finesse and complexity. The wines have clarity of structure, and a great length of flavour. In the warmer climate of the Hunter Valley we have no trouble in achieving mature tannins in our red grapes. So you won't find any herbaceous/ capsicum characters, so common in many cool climate Cabernets. Red wine is as much about how it feels in your mouth. Its texture, ripeness and maturity rather than the quantity of the tannins.
Then you have weight vs complexity. The riper the fruit the bigger the wine but the trade-off is loss of finesse and elegance. Crop levels are also critical in achieving complexity (not to mention canopy management, irrigation, etc). Needless to say the exclusively estate grown fruit requires diligence in achieving these goals, the weather having the last say on the fruit intensity for that particular year. With the old vines, low crop levels, and good canopy management, Lakes Folly are consistently presented with above average fruit.
Being a single site vineyard (i.e. grown, vintaged and bottled on the estate) allows the winemaking team to fully express the terroir of the particular site. Red basalt over limestone with a southeast aspect and forty year old vines, makes for wines with great complexity. Throw in some traditional winemaking, French oak and you have a unique distinguished single site wine. ‚ÄúIt is not a wine which can or should be judged by conventional standards; if it were to be treated, the judgement would not do the wine justice‚ÄĚ, James Halliday, Wine Companion. Lakes Folly prefer to understate their releases, allowing them to reveal themselves at your own pace.
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