The Master Winemaker 100: Troy Kalleske, Kalleske Wines

The drinks business recently published a guide celebrating the talent of the winemakers who have scooped the highest accolade of our  Global Masters tasting series , which is judged almost exclusively by MWs. Each week we profile the winemaker behind these medal winning wines – the creatives, scientists, mavericks and dreamers who are at the pinnacle of their profession.

Troy Kalleske, winemaker, Kalleske Wines

Troy Kalleske is winemaker and co-proprietor of Kalleske Wines in the Barossa Valley. He established it in 2002, with his brother Tony, on his family’s property at Greenock, where they have been farming and grape- growing since 1853. The wines of Kalleske are all estate grown and vinified with all grapes and wines certified organic and biodynamic.

What or who inspired you to become a winemaker?
At Faith Lutheran College, as part of the agricultural programme, the students make wine in the micro winery. Back then it was rather primitive compared with the commercial winery at Faith today. In 1993 I was part of the first group of wine students to make wine at the school.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
Definitely vintage time – the action, excitement, smells and energy throughout the winery. And one specific part of making a vintage, the first red pressing of vintage. This is the time when we no longer have grape juice but our first wine and the first manifestation of the quality from that vintage.

What’s the hardest part?
The unknown of the season and what quality and quantity will result. Especially as a certified organic and biodynamic estate producer we are defined by what our family farm produces in any given year.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
It’s normally a beer. It doesn’t really matter what type, as long as it’s cold.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Get as much experience as possible. Experience with as many different winemakers, wineries and regions. Winemaking is not exact, so observe and learn then extract and apply accordingly to your own winemaking. It’s also okay not to go with the flow.

What has been your greatest winemaking mistake?
Not keeping back enough of our inaugural vintage wines for ourselves as museum stock.

Which wine-related achievement are you most proud of and why?
In 2012 winning multiple trophies at the London International Wine Challenge. Our 2011 Kalleske Clarry’s GSM picked up three trophies: Best Barossa GSM Blend, Best Australian Red Wine and World’s Best Biodynamic Wine of The Year. It was particularly pleasing to get it for this wine.

Who is your inspiration in the wine world today?
I am inspired by people who make honest wines grown and crafted in a truly sustainable way, while respecting the origin of the grapes they are inventive whether it be a new style, method, variety, in the vineyard or winery.

If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be doing and why?
Possibly an electronic engineer. I always enjoyed tinkering with electrical things and finding out how they work.

How has your taste in wine changed over your career?
In my early career, generally bigger, richer, gutsier, fuller wines were preferred. I guess that’s because I grew up on Barossa Shiraz, which was typically full-on. But over the years as I explored more and more wines my tastes have gone towards more refined and elegant wines. However, it’s important that these wines still have flavour and balance. Today I drink a lot of Pinot but of course still enjoy quality Barossa reds. Today I lean towards organically farmed wines, not just because the grapes are grown in a sustainable way but I do feel the wines are often superior.

Which type of wine do you drink most regularly?
I rarely drink the same wine twice. I am constantly exploring different varieties, styles and regions. I especially look for wines that are organic with minimal intervention and genuinely represent the place where they’re grown. I most regularly drink Pinot, Shiraz and Grenache if red, and Chardonnay, Riesling or Chenin if white. For fortified wine I enjoy a good Fino Sherry.

Which wine would you most like to drink, and who would you share it with?
Rüdesheimer Apostelwein 1727. I would share it with my wife, Sally. This wine is rather beyond the bounds of a bucket list but I’m listing it because I think it would be an incredible wine to try because apparently it is still drinkable and it’s about 300 years old. It comes from the famous 12 Apostles’ cellar in the Bremer Ratskeller in Bremen, Germany.

Master medals

  • >  Mappa Shiraz 2017 (Syrah Masters 2018)
  • >  Kalleske Eduard 2016 (Organic Master 2019
  • >  Kalleske Eduard 2017 (Syrah Masters 2019)
  • >  Kalleske Old Vine 2017 (Syrah Masters 2017

To buy a copy of The Master Winemaker 100, please click here.

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