The 2016 vintage was unique. In fact it was the extreme-opposite to 2015, which was mild, steady and evenly spread. 2016 was not this. It was all in, flat stick across all varieties and regions. It was hot, and early – the earliest vintage I’ve experienced in Australia. This vintage will always stand out for the fact that it’s wines so strongly reflect the personality of the vintage, both climate and atmosphere.
In 2016, it was important to pick early to capture natural acid and freshness, yet not too early so as to miss the depth and range of aroma and flavour, and the maturity and complexity of structure required to make great wine that can be enjoyed both now and in the distant future.
Marsanne from Warramunda in Coldstream, Yarra Valley was stunning, as always. This is now the fifth Marsanne I have crafted from this block and it seems to get better each year. Perhaps this has something to do with a greater depth of understanding, but the vines do seem to be finding more and more balance with every year. Aromas are open and fragrant with those familiar summer flowers, creamy citrus and spices we come to expect from this vineyard. We went in early with the harvest, so flavours are tight and fresh, yet the textures in the wine are magnificent…so many layers, so much mouthwatering lusciousness, sooo much to look forward to with this wine. It is resting on all of its lees in large, old barrels, and will be bottled next February.
The ever-winding road of discovery to unearth the most exciting shiraz terroirs led me to Beechworth this year, situated at the foothills of the Victorian Alps in north-eastern Victoria. As always, this was not an overnight affair. I have had great interest in Beechworth for many years. To me, this is pure magnificence when it comes to cool climate shiraz – comparable only to certain parts of the Grampians, yet different again. Some of the great wines of the Beechworth region prove this to be so.
More recently, I started exploring Beechworth in more detail, and I have enjoyed developing relationships with custodians of some of these great vineyards. The site that most intrigued and excited me was in Everton Upper, on the western side of Beechworth, three and a half km south-west of Giaconda. The climate here is cool sub-alpine, and the gentle, rolling north-eastern aspect exposes the fruit to enough sunshine to develop deep, intense, well-defined flavours, yet ensure this is all wrapped in a structure that is fine and elegant. This is what I want in cool climate shiraz. This creates sexy wine.
Vines were planted 20 years ago on dark red clay soils that lay over ancient granite, at an altitude of 400 meters. I drank a wine from this site back in 2008 (2006 Anvil Shiraz – seek it out if you can find it), and it’s character and potential has stayed with me since. A more recent tasting of this wine last year again tipped me over the edge, and I’m now completely stoked to have my own interpretation in barrel.