We are lucky to have Durif. It is very much our pet red variety, so much so that it is often known as Rutherglen Durif. It makes stunning wines that seem to combine brute force and fine delicacy. A classic descriptor is that of an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove'. The funny thing is that for all its weight and intensity in the glass, the variety is an absolute wimp on the vine. It has tight bunches of quite thin-skinned berries. Late rains as the fruit approaches maturity result in split berries, because they are so tight-packed that there is no room for them to expand when they take up water. The split berries ooze stick juice all through the bunch and rot quickly takes hold. Local winemaker Andrew Smith of Warrabilla once infamously said - "My Durif splits if a kangaroo pisses on the Nullarbor*."

Durif is only grown in a few places and fewer still grow it successfully. Its two best known homes are Rutherglen and warm regions of California, where it is known as Petit Syrah. It only succeeds in vineyards with reliably warm and dry ripening periods and is best on free-draining soils such as the sandy loams of All Saints.

As I said, we are lucky to have Durif - but why? We are able to ripen Durif and that makes us lucky. It means we have long, warm, dry autumns, my favourite season. The cool nights and sunny, breezy days are simply gorgeous. The food becomes richer and heartier, the new-season apples arrive and by the time Durif is picked the quinces and chestnuts are beckoning from the local greengrocer's shelves. It is a lovely time of year and the slowly ripening Durif is a reminder of just how special this region is.