WHO For more than a decade, winemaker Sarah Gough has been producing Rhône-inspired wines at her family vineyard in Tabilk, in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria. In 2011, however, an overly fruitful season saw the vigneron pursuing other ways to use her grapes. "It looked like the roussanne grapes weren't going to ripen at all, so I decided to make verjuice instead," she says.
WHAT Verjuice is made from pressed unripe grapes. Unlike other acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, a splash of verjuice can give everything from salad dressing to roasts "a refreshing zing without the aggressive bite," says Gough. At Lûmé in Melbourne, verjuice is often used in cocktails instead of citrus. "We can batch them without worrying about ingredients going off or sediment forming in the bottle," says Lûmé bar manager Orlando Marzo. "And Box Grove's verjuice is delicate and textured, yet with perfume in spades, so it's perfect for drinks."
HOW Gough keeps it simple: the grapes are picked between mid-February and March, then crushed, chilled, filtered and bottled. "We try to get it in and out of the vineyard as soon as possible to avoid any rogue yeast spores that may trigger fermentation," she says. Gough still uses roussanne for her verjuice, which she prefers for the natural acid backbone and hallmark pear and quince flavour.
WHERE Chef Ben Shewry is a fan of Box Grove: he uses a litre each day at Attica for his chicken and pork dishes, and is working with the vineyard to produce a red verjuice for next season. "He wanted something that would better suit red meat," says Gough. "One of the Mediterranean varieties I grow - mourvèdre - might be interesting for that."
Box Grove Vineyard Verjus, $22 for 750ml, available from Box Grove Vineyard, 955 Avenel-Nagambie Rd, Tabilk, Vic, boxgrovevineyard.com.au