Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Following the best, to achieve the best
Having nurtured a passion for fine wine for a long time, Keppell Smith decided he had to take the inevitable step of starting his own winery. In order to do so, he canvassed Australia in search of the best terroirs to eventually settle in the subalpine expanse of Beechworth.
Location: Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Working with us since: 2020
Viticultural standards: Organic (non- certified).
Interesting fact: Savaterre has a faithful following among critics and sommeliers around the world, having won countless accolades both for each individual releases and as a winery. Savaterre was named a Decanter Estate of Excellence in 2019 and is part of the exclusive Langton’s fine wine classification.
The story of Savaterre starts with Keppell Smith’s passion for fine wine, which he nurtured and refined for years while working in finance. At some point it became clear that the natural next step would be to own his own estate and make his own wines. The question was where.
He travelled the four corners of Australia looking for the best terroirs. Eventually he arrived at Beechworth and wondered how come, given that it was home to such an iconic producer as Giaconda, there were no other wine estates in the area. He assumed, rightly so, that the local soil (decomposed granitic loam) and local micro-climate were integral to the quality borne by Giaconda.
Smith had found his winemaking corner of the world and, after months of negotiations with a local farmer, he bought Savaterre and planted the first vines in 1996.
In the winery, his guiding principles were driven by Old World paradigms, namely his favourite wines and producers from Burgundy. He uses a hands-off approach to bring out pure, lean and age-worthy expressions of the local landscape. “It is all about the quality of the fruit from the fantastic site we have here at Savaterre.” he says.
Keppel resorts to natural fermentation only and all the fruit is gently pressed in a basket press. The wines then undergo 18 months ageing on the lees in custom-made French casks, followed by 6 months in bottle prior to release. The result is a range of wines with incredible purity, minerality and elegance. Keppel insists though that the fundamental secret to the elegance of his wine is the work done in the vineyard; he farms according to organic principles and high-density planting naturally keeps yields incredibly low. Savaterre relies primarily on the soil and climate of Beechworth, on the one hand, and on careful viticulture, on the other, to make the wines that have now gained international reputation.
A magic combination of quintessential Ausralian expanse and Burgundian elegance.