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+

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