It’s no secret, I like bubbles, so I was excited for our visit to Printhie while we were in Orange, NSW Australia. Printhie has a second label, called Swift, for their passion project under which they bottle traditional method sparkling wines.
Swift happens to be the family name of the owners of Printhie Wines. Ed Swift, who manages the business with his brother Dave, met us with winemaker Drew Tuckwell at the Packing Shed that has become their tasting room in Orange.
The Printhie winery, where their cellar door has been located, is a 30-minute drive from here. This new property in Orange, allowed them to move their cellar door, closer to town, and this location has great elevation for growing grapes for sparkling wines.
Located in the foothills of Mt. Canobolas at between 920 and 1000 meters (2600 to 3200 feet) this area is ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wine.
Orange, historically has been an orchard region. At its peak, there were 268 orchards within a 12 km radius of the city. Today there are just 40 in the same area. The area is known for hail, which can damage the fruit and requires netting. Insurance companies won’t insure for hail here and supermarkets only want to buy perfect fruit, so it’s been tough for the orchards.
When they bought this 56-acre property it was an apple orchard. While they took out some of the trees to plant the vineyards of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, they wanted to keep sections of the orchards. They won’t make money off of them, but they can preserve the history and heritage of the region as well as add a bit of biodiversity. They cherish the view from the ridge with the dappled farmland of vineyards and orchards.
The cellar door here is the old packing shed for the apple orchard. They have hung a chandelier and brought in tables next to the apple packing equipment, giving the place a shabby chic feel. There is a platter of fruit and cheese on the table and a wine barrel whose top is covered in ice and is full of Sydney Rock Oysters.
We get a little education on the oysters while we are here. The flavor and size change depending on the tributary the oyster beds are on. These are Clyde River oysters that Ed had shucked just before our arrival. What could be better with sparkling wine?
They began Swift in 2010, with the intent to make premium sparkling wine from Orange. They sent Drew to Champagne to soak up as much information as he could over the 2-week harvest in France. He spent time with Rodolphe Peters of Champagne Pierre Peters. Rodolphe’s advice to him was to blend for structure.
“If you have the structure, you have the freshness, and you have the backbone to build complexity. “
Drew Tuckwell October 2019
They currently produce 5 sparkling wines: a Non-Vintage Cuveé, a Non-Vintage Rosé, a 2012 Vintage wine, a Blanc de Blanc, as well as a Blanc de Noirs which had yet to be released at the time but is available now.
Swift NV Cuveé
This wine was based on the 2013 vintage with some reserve wine from earlier vintages. It spent 5 ½ years on tirage lees. It is chardonnay dominant with 60% and then 40% pinot noir. Dosage is 7.0 g/L and abv is 12.7%. This is their entry point sparkling wine.
It has white fruit, with a bit of red fruit (think strawberries) from the Pinot Noir. There are florals and yeast and a wonderful nuttiness.
This entry-level wine is $40 AU and took the Best of the Best Award in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion Awards as well as a 96 pt score. It is a consistent award-winning wine.
Swift NV Rosé
The pink version of their NV is 65% chardonnay and 35% pinot noir. The color is given by pinot noir added at disgorgement which gives them a bit more control. The dosage here is 5.0 g/L and 11.5% abv. It spends 60 months on lees.
Another value at $40 AU which garnered a 95 rating from the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion.
Swift 2012 Vintage
The vintage blend is 72/28 (chardonnay/pinot noir). Chardonnay is the strength of this region. The wine we were drinking had been disgorged 12 months prior and spent 6 years on lees. Dosage is 5.0 g/L and abv is 12%. This again got 95 points in the 2012 Halliday Wine Companion.
It’s a bit more expensive at $50 AU, but for this wine, it is still a steal.
Swift 2010 Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay, this wine is their flagship. It spent 8 years (that’s 96 months!) on lees. With low dosage at 4.0 g/L, it sits at 11.5% abv.
Drew speaks about blending for structure and how that allows these wines to age so beautifully and stay so fresh. It also is why they evolve so slowly. Drew tells us that this wine as a young wine had such sharp acidity it was almost undrinkable. Now it is rounder and richer, still with amazing acid.
This pinnacle of their wines runs $85.00 AU per bottle.
We discussed gyropalettes and disgorging machines. While Ed dreams of having a riddling and disgorging line, they currently send the wines out for this. The wines leave the “above ground cellar” for 2 weeks total for this. 7 days in the gyropalette does what months in a riddling rack would do.
We continued chatting, sipping on these tasty bubbles, rescuing the oysters from the melting ice, and storing them away in our stomachs, as the sun started to set. We emerged from the Shack in time to witness the sun going over the ridge in the vineyard.
These were delicious wines and fascinating people to speak with. They are passionate about creating quality sparkling wine and that’s not an easy task. Champagne has had a couple of centuries to figure out this process and Swift has only been making it in Orange for 10 years.
They know that they are not making Champagne, but the goal is to make a glass of wine, from Orange, that can stand on its own next to a glass of Champagne. That, I think, they’ve done.
How To Find Them!
The Printhie Cellar door is located in the Packing Shed at 208 Nancarrow Lane in Nashdale, just 10 minutes from Orange. Check the website in advance for hours and to schedule a booking. https://printhiewines.com.au/
More on Orange, Australia!
Want more information on the Orange Wine Region in Australia? Check out these other pieces we’ve written on the region!
Our visit to Printhie occurred during our post-conference tour at the 2019 Wine Media Conference, This media trip was arranged by Orange360 who provided accommodations and internal travel. No other compensation was received. All opinions are our own.
More on Australia
We visited a bit of New South Wales while we were in Australia. Here are some more pieces on the regions we visited.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.