Thursday, March 19, 2015

2013 Tyrrell's Single Vineyard Reds (Hunter Valley)

I had these wines late last year, then lost my tasting notes, only to find them again the other day!
I sometimes wonder if the past 5-10 years or so will be remembered as a mini-golden era for wine lovers in Australia. It has been a period in which an increasing number of wineries across the country have begun to produce compelling wines that are unique expressions of site or vineyard. This has all happened at a time when Australian wines were on the nose as far as many international critics were concerned, the Australian dollar was incredibly strong (further weakening export demand), and there was a general glut of grapes. The result has been a wonderful array of exceptional wine at more than reasonable prices. As with all cycles, things eventually turn, and in the past two to three years we have seen a gradual positive changing of opinion amongst international critics, and there has been some easing in the oversupply of grapes (while still remaining problematic). Importantly, in the past 12 months we have also seen the Australian dollar drop substantially, particularly against the US Dollar. All of which would point to a likely increasing demand for Australian wine. Some quite remarkable price rises by individual wineries on their premium wines in the past year or two would seem to be at least in part an early indication of this.

Which leads me to these Tyrrell’s single vineyard reds. Here you are indeed getting compelling wines that are unique expressions of their respective sites. Furthermore, they are scarce (not much made in terms of production), and they age a treat. Finally they have an amazing history behind them, being made by a winery established in 1838 and still in family hands, and sourced from 100 year + old vineyards. While $50 is never a small amount to pay for a bottle of wine, I would argue that with all these things considered, these wines are great value at that price. I feel fortunate then to be a part of the Private Bin club at Tyrrell’s through which you can buy these wines, and have been stocking up in the past few years.
I believe something in this favourable equation for these special wines will eventually break. It might be large price rises, a closing of the Private Bin club to new entrants, or something else. Either way, I struggle to see how these wines will remain so accessible, given both growing local awareness and interest, and the turning, even just marginally, in international demand. If these wines are your type of thing and you’re not a member you might want to get in before it’s too late.

To the wines at hand -

2013 Tyrrell’s Johnno’s ShirazJohnno’s block was planted in 1908 and sits is on alluvial sandy loam soils.
This is somewhat unyielding at present, only gradually revealing its true appeal and potential over a few days. It’s light to medium bodied and very much a “Hunter Burgundy” in style. Lovely cherry fruit meets regional earthiness, with just a hint of oak at play. Acid driven. One thing that does stand out at this stage of its life is its great length of finish. This should largely be left alone for its first 10 years, and then savoured after that. Rated: 93++  Drink: 2020-2030+

2013 Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz The ‘Old Patch’ vineyard was planted in 1867, making it nearly 150 years old, and sits on red clay loams. .
While remaining medium-bodied, there’s a bit more of everything with the Old Patch as compared to Johnno’s. A bit more joy and drinkability early in its life. That being said this is just as much a monty for the cellar as the Johnno’s. A slightly darker, richer fruit profile here, while remaining in the cherry spectrum. Earthiness and a beautiful cinnamon note. The tannins are subtle yet firm, and help shape the wine through its long finish. Rated: 93++  Drink: 2018-2030+


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2013 Montalto Estate and Pennon Hill Pinot Noir


More quality Pinot Noir from Simon Black and the team from Montalto. 2013 was a superb vintage for them, as displayed by the wines below.
2013 Montalto Estate Pinot Noir
Strawberry, vanilla musk nose, Luscious, silky ripe strawberry, red and black cherry fruit and mixed spice, finishes with an intense, long flavour flurry backed by clean natural acidity. Powerful and flavoursome yet with a lovely balance. Vibrant fruit, flavour, balance and length make this a very typically moreish wine.

RRP: $48
ABV: 13.6%
Rating: 93pts + (crowd pleaser)

2013 Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Noir
Fresh, soft, vibrant and savoury red-black cherry fruit, hints of raspberry, vanilla and dried mixed herbs. Juicy red fruit at the front, framed strongly in the middle by stalky, savoury notes. Earthy and spicy, though fruit-forward, refreshing and flavoursome. Very approachable. A wine getting better each vintage.

RRP: $30
ABV: 13.7%
Rating: 93pts


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Murdoch Hill - 2013 The Landau Syrah (Adelaide Hills)

Murdoch Hill is a relatively new name to me, but it’s a winery with a bit of history, a good family story, and importantly some exciting wines.

I visited the winery in November last year, where I was hosted by Charlie Downer, the family patriarch, and his son Andrew who looks after the marketing for the winery. The farm has been run by the Downer family since the 1930s, with cattle one of the mainstays till the present day. Vines were planted in 1998, and for a number of years the wine was made offsite.

The site itself is a gently sloping one, with soil types varying between blocks. It is predominantly sandy loam of red clays, with varying levels of quartz, ironstone and schist metamorphic rock. The Red varieties are typically planted on the hardy shallow soils, and the Chardonnay and Sauvignon on the more fertile richer soils

2012 marked a significant turning point for Murdoch Hill with the return home of winemaker Michael Downer (Andrew’s brother). Michael had worked at a number of wineries both in Australia and overseas, including Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills, Vietti in Piedmont, and Bests in the Grampians. He evidently learnt a thing or two during that time, for the range of wines that he has produced from the 2013 and 2014 vintages are very impressive.

Highlights include the 2013 Cronberry Shiraz, a cracking entry level wine, that finds that great balance between ripe fruit and elegance. The 2014 The Surrey Pinot Meunier is a unique, delicious, and highly drinkable wine.

Perhaps my favourite wine, however, is the 2013 Landau Syrah - the fruit for this wine comes off a part of the vineyard heavy with Ironstone. The grapes are hand tended and picked, before undergoing ferment with 50% whole bunch and then being aged in old french oak. It opens with a seductive nose, with the whole bunch seemingly having contributed to a berry perfume tinged with pepper and meatiness. To drink it is loose knit and medium bodied but displays perfectly ripe fruit. It’s underpinned by an unforced and integrated acidity and finishes with impressive length. So drinkable, but will be better again in a few years time.

Rated: 4 Stars +
RRP: $50
ABV: 13%
Closure: Diam
Drink: 2015-2020+


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2013 Lark Hill Sangiovese

I always associate Lark Hill with top quality Gruner Veltliner and my personal favourite of theirs, Viognier (amongst others). However, this Sangiovese is a pleasant surprise. A proudly biodynamic winery, Chris Carpenter and family at Lark Hill manage to deliver consistently high quality wines across their diverse range.

The 2013 Sangiovese has an initial herbal, tobacco nose that blows off with air, with a palate of juicy black fruit, sweet at the front, transitioning to savoury on the finish. Loose knit structurally, light-medium bodied and texturally slippery. Minimal tannin. Finishes savoury and refreshing.  
A light-medium bodied wine screaming out for early drinking alongside range of summery dishes (BBQ meats, Pizza, tapas, etc).

RRP: $30
ABV: 13.0%
Rating: 88 pts
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