Discover Woods Crampton
Thursday, September 12, 2019 in News
Woods Crampton is the passion project turned success story from Aaron Woods and Nicholas Crampton. An intuitive and creative winemaking duo, they craft wines from old vine Barossa Shiraz and old-world varieties using Burgundian techniques—successfully walking a fine line between the contemporary and traditional. Explore our Woods Crampton portfolio here.
Established as recently as 2010, Woods Crampton has made something of a splash. In ten years, annual production has increased more than ten-fold from 1500 cases. The more recent releases of their flagship wines ‘Phillip Patrick’ and ‘Michael John’ (more on these later) reaching for the ceiling of James Halliday’s scoring. And this new venture has access to 100+-year-old vines and unusual old-world varieties that are hardly household names. Incredible achievements for such a new winery.
Langton’s had a chance to catch up with Nicholas and ask him about the rise of Woods Crampton, his flagship wines and what the future holds for Woods Crampton.
You established Woods Crampton in 2010, and it looks like you’ve been busy. James Halliday says ‘with every expectation of continued success’ and he’s not held back in his reviews either. How have you achieved so much in so little time?
We are lucky to be surrounded by good people and have access to a wealth of vineyard resources from a rightfully world-famous wine region. We have always focussed on what we can add to the industry, how we can deliver interesting and rewarding wines for the consumer rather than what suits us. I think this has made the difference.
Why did you choose the Sons of Eden winery? And what advantages do you think you gain from working in that space?
The dynamic Sons of Eden duo are a great combination—Simon Cowham focussing on viticulture and Corey Ryan winemaking. Apart from friendship, what really drew us to Sons of Eden is that we love their winemaking philosophy; a lighter style of Shiraz, made using Pinot Noir techniques to deliver a wine that balances richness of flavour with freshness and drinkability.
We also felt that there was room for us to focus on interesting and rewarding wines for drinking as opposed to collecting and cellaring that would give us a difference to Sons of Eden, not just a copy.
On the Michael John Centenarian Vines Single Vineyard Barossa Valley Shiraz. Named for Aaron’s father but built on 100+-year-old vines, can you talk about what you set out to achieve with this wine?
We didn’t really ever set out to make wines of this level but when you’re at the winery and you see this amazing fruit, and you visit an amazing old vineyard, it gets in your blood and you just have to do something!
Similar to Burgundy where the vineyards tend to be consistent to their commune but the Grand Cru stand apart, the great old vineyards of the Barossa have their own character.
We were happy for this vineyard to tell its own story, a little ‘to the right’ of the Woods Crampton style, as a bigger bolder intense wine. Where the idea of these two wines came from was the personalities of our fathers seeming to match the personalities of the wines. Aaron’s father Michael is a passionate man, bursting with enjoyment and living life to the full—just like this wine.
So really, all we were trying to do with this wine was to do justice to the vineyard and to Aaron’s father.
On the Phillip Patrick Old Vines Single Vineyard Eden Valley Shiraz. Eden Valley, old Shiraz vines and named for your father. What is the hope for the future of this wine?
The vineyard for the Phillip Patrick is not as old as for Michael John (although it is plenty old) but it was the perfect example of the adage–’old vineyards don’t become great, but great vineyards become old’–i.e. this is just a perfect site making perfectly balanced and intense fruit—it is a 150-year-old vineyard in the making.
My father is a more restrained man, steeped in the country and well balanced between passion and control. I think this wine reflects him well and my hope for the future is that both the vineyard and my father grow older and better!
Graciano, Bonvedro and, to some degree, Mataro aren’t exactly household names in Australia. How do you go about getting people to look beyond the big varieties from the Barossa to the point where they think, ‘Bonvedro… that’s the one for me’?
All we can do is keep talking about them and keep pouring them into glasses for people. Similar to our first point about Woods Crampton adding something to the industry, Bonvedro is a legitimate addition to the world of wine, more than just something different. It is a very late ripening variety well suited to climate change that combines the richness of Shiraz with the spiciness of Grenache – how does that sound!
It’s been nearly ten years, but what about the next ten? What can we look forward to in the Woods Crampton future?
I can’t really look more than a month ahead! But I would say we will still be trying to make fun and fascinating wines that offer great drinking. We will be expanding our techniques (more preservative-free, skin contact etc) and adapting to climate change through viticulture and new varieties. And if I could get more people drinking white and red blends I would be happy!
Many thanks to Nicholas for taking the time and sharing his passion for Barossa Valley.