WITH labels called Stomp! and Pssst‘n’Broke, it’s no surprise that Michael and Meredith McManus have a refreshingly original approach to producing wine.
It began in 1996 with a first vintage in their Sydney home laundry.
Owning no vines, Michael and Meredith base their 1000-dozen-cases-a-year boutique operation, Stomp!, on fruit bought from Broke-Fordwich, Lower Hunter and Orange growers. Michael makes the wines in leased Lovedale winery space and they are sold at the couple’s 504 Wilderness Road, Lovedale, cellar door and stompwine.com.au.
The innovative, pretention-free spirit shows in current-release McManus wines I’ve sampled recently.
Among them is an enjoyable sparkler with Hunter verdelho as a seldom-seen base wine and a fruity white made from the fiano variety that originated in Campania in southern Italy.
And there’s the Pssst‘n’Broke 2018 Rosé, reviewed below, which won a 96-point top gold and best rosé trophy in 2018’s Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show.
It’s beaut spring-summer drinking and the back label delivers neat little “no-bull facts” dig at we wine reviewers.
It declares “you won’t find blackberries, flowers, vanilla, or wet dogs in it because – let’s face it – it’s made from grapes” and “it tastes good”.
The Stomp! name comes from the age-old method of foot-crushing grapes.
The Pssst‘n’Broke tag arose at a convivial dinner with winegrower friends. It’s “an articulation intended to catch someone’s attention with minimum noise” and points to giving more recognition to Broke-Fordwich wine.
Although they both enjoyed wine, Meredith and Michael’s early occupations were remote from making it.
Michael went from Dubbo High School to a steelworks job at Port Kembla. Then, with University of NSW chemical engineering degree, he began a career as a food process engineer with such companies as Unilever and Nestlé.
At the Nestlé Milo factory at Smithtown on the mid-north coast he met former Sydneysider Meredith, a Hawkesbury Agricultural College-graduate food technologist-microbiologist and later a sales and marketing account manager.
Moving to Sydney in 1990 in Unilever and Nestlé jobs, the McManuses made vintages from must bought from Hunter vignerons such as Mark Davidson at Tamburlaine.
Michael began a Charles Sturt Uni wine science course in 1997 and in 1999 he, Meredith and family set up home on a 14.5-hectare Milbrodale Road, Broke, property.
As well as gaining his wine degree in 2002, Michael worked with Mark Davidson between 1999 and 2004 as Tamburlaine assistant winemaker.
From there Stomp! Wines has developed with Michael sourcing prime grapes and winemaking and Meredith running cellar door, marketing and sales.
THIS Stomp! 2017 Vivre Sparkling Verdelho has busy bubbles, straw hues and ripe ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour. The middle palate has lemon curd, apple and mineral characters and the finish flinty acid. The wines are at stompwine.com.au and from 10am to 5pm Thursdays to Mondays at the 504 Wilderness Rd, Lovedale, cellar door.PRICE: $28.
DRINK WITH: seafood wontons.
AGEING: one year.
RATING: 4 stars (out of 6)
ROSÉ TROPHY WIN
MADE from Hunter Valley merlot, this trophy-winning Pssst ‘n’ Broke 2018 Rosé is pale salmon pink and has 12.5% alcohol, jelly bean aromas and zingy strawberry flavour on the front palate. The middle palate brings in pomegranate, apple peel and subtle toffee nuances and gunmetal acid refreshes at the finish.
DRINK WITH:salmon rillettes with toasted sourdough.
AGEING: drink now.
RATING: 4.5 stars
FINE 2017 SHIRAZ
FROM a top-notch Hunter Valley vintage, the Stomp! 2017 Limited Release Shiraz registers 14.5% alcohol and glows deep garnet in the glass. The nose has gamey scents, the front palate plush, ripe plum flavours and the middle palate cassis, licorice, spearmint and mocha oak. Ferric tannins come through at the finish.
DRINK WITH: rib of beef with bearnaise sauce.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars