Issue: 59 / Sunday 24 February, 2019
Earlier this week, Julia Harding MW (Team Jancis MW) released an article following January’s Australian Trade Tasting. Julia’s article titled ‘Australia – signs of maturity?’ focuses on older wines which she hunted out throughout the tasting, resulting in 62 wines and almost all from the 2013 vintage or older. To preserve their paid subscription policy, we are unable to provide the full article however, we can pick out and share the wines which we represent.
Julia noted there “were far fewer older white wines, notably and not unexpectedly Sémillons and Rieslings – and a couple of very good Chardonnays – they tended to fare better than some of the reds. The biggest surprise was the Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Margaret River, made in a reductive/smoky style and still so vibrant, with none of those off-putting sweetcorn flavours that Sauvignon Blanc sometimes develops. Sadly, volumes are very small, according to Stuart McCloskey of UK importer The Vinorium”.
17.0 Points, Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Margaret River “Winemaker Stuart Pym was founder/winemaker at Stella Bella. Importer Vinorium have snaffled all the Flowstone library stock. But volumes are very small. Extremely smoky and reductive – flinty more than struck match. Dog Point Section 94 style with excellent freshness and intensity. Drive and length and complexity in that reductive style and deliciously fresh on the long finish. Complex but no loss of vibrancy”
I am huge fan of Stuart (Pym’s) work and do believe he’s a natural magician with Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon. Stuart hand-picks, whole bunch-presses, barrel-ferments in used barrels and matures for 11 months with occasional lees stirring. A further 18 months of maturation follows bottling. Tiny quantities are produced, 280 dozen were made and we are down to our last 50 bottles. A superb wine for £22.50 (allow some aeration before enjoying!).
Julia further commented that the reds were more of a mixed bag with some wines (2013s) showing no signs of age, which certainly does not surprise us.
17+ Points, Wild Duck Creek, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Heathcote “Deep cherry red. Elegant after so much sweet fruit throughout this Australia tasting, more stony than leafy. Richer fruit on the palate but there’s freshness to balance. Tannins compact but smooth. A wine with a long future. Tangy long finish. (JH)”
Those of you who are now following us on Twitter will have seen several new wine producers being sampled this week. Singlefile wines (from Great Southern, Australia) showed very well indeed. Their young, 2018 Pinot Noir was a delight, but their Fume Blanc was my favourite. Robert Mondavi introduced the term ‘Fume Blanc’ in the late sixties to denote a style of Sauvignon Blanc which had received oak treatment. We must wait until September as their 2018 has already sold-out but it will be a worthwhile wait.
From the Margaret River, samples arrived from Evoi, Nigel Ludlow’s boutique operation. Nigel’s venture started in 2007 with a mere two barrels, which and thankfully has grown a little. The quality is exceptional with significant demand particularly following his current Reserve Chardonnay release, which received 98 points from James Halliday. We’ll let you know how we get on next week.
From the Barossa, samples from JC’s Own arrived including the 150-year-old Grenache from the Angaston Foothills & JC’s Single Vineyard Greenock Shiraz . It’s a shame you can’t taste with us as we know these are going to be special…
Some of you will have enjoyed Jaysen Collins wines albeit under the Massena label. It’s a very small world and many of our Australian partners are interlinked someway. Were you aware that Massena was established at the turn of the century by Jaysen Collins and Dan Standish? We loved their work at Massena and very much look forward to introducing JC’s Own wines alongside Dan’s who has a huge following amongst you all. Who would like to see the return of Massena? Two amazing winemakers collaborating…Drop us an email as we’ll happily open-up communication with them both.
I must thank you for all your Clarendon Hills, Kaesler and Yarra Yering orders with the majority of YY wines now sold-out. Just 3 bottles of the Chardonnay remain, a little more Dry White No:1. All Dry Red No: 1 & 2 have sold out. Various Kaesler wines have sold-out and if I were to pick one from the collection to purchase, their mature 2010 Viognier at £12.95 would be the one. Surprisingly light on its feet and still retains terrific freshness for a wine of nearly ten years old. All things considered, this is a fabulous wine. Our Clarendon Hills sale is coming along rather nicely too with just a smidgen under 1,000 bottles selling last week, which is no surprise given the discounts. Next week, we will offer all our under-bond stocks to our trade customers (fear not, we have close to 4,500 bottles but we hope they will put a big dent into our stock position).
150,000 (Aussie Dollars) was sent to Two Hands this week. We have confirmed our order for 3,000 bottles of the newly released 2017 Garden Series. Charlie’s, Samantha’s, Harriet’s and Max’s being offered exclusively by The Vinorium. We share allocations of Bella’s & Lily’s Garden with Majestic. Only a handful of cases remain of the 2015 / 2016 Garden series and all are available by the bottle if you prefer. We are preparing a 40ft container which will house our Two Hands, John’s Blend and Standish wines – ETA end of May / early June. Hoddles Creek will be shipped within 7-10 days with the same ETA. Our pallet from Valli Wines (New Zealand) is also ready to come across and we look forward to sharing four, magnificent Pinot Noirs with you.
From Europe, we will be shipping our final Tranche of 2016 Bordeaux ahead of 29 March. I travel the M20 each day and Kent is clearly preparing for a no-deal Brexit as large sections of the M20 (junctions 9 to 7 / Ashford to Maidstone) is now operating with a barrier as part of Operation Brock, which will allow lorries travelling to mainland Europe to be held on the coastbound carriageway, while a contraflow system will aim to minimise the impact on people travelling within Kent. It’s already a shambles with the 50 mile speed restrictions, which and despite the safety element, produces more crashes than the national speed limit! I fear Kent will become a difficult county to navigate around which will place more pressure on couriers’ abilities to deliver wines and perishables within 24 hours. We are already seeing issues with private customer shipments to mainland Europe as not one person has a clue what is going to happen post-Brexit. This is certainly one aspect of our business which we cannot control, and I do feel we will feel the pinch with our European shipments if the government, customs and national & international transport chains keep failing to communicate. Nonetheless, we’ll continue to do our best but please understand (if your order is sitting in an international depot) these are uncharted times with inherent problems far beyond our control.
PS. My apologies, our 2016 Bordeaux update will come next week.
Muddy Water Chardonnay 2016
97+ Points Stuart McCloskey "My third bottle and my opinion has not changed. An ineffably complex bouquet which builds and builds with more aeration in the glass. Emphatically, mineral-dominated, which combine perfectly with Amalfi lemon peel and orchard fruits (quince). The palate is full of energy, exhilarating, tightly coiled and perfectly balanced. The wine is chiselled, builds slowly and would benefit from decanting. Richness does not come in the form of fruit. Instead, the wine's fullness comes in the form of texture (phenolic weight) which is undeniably attractive (a nod to the painstaking work carried out in the vineyard). Wet stones wash across my palate but it’s the salinity which I love and sets this New Zealand Chardonnay apart from all the others. There’s a killer line of acidity which will ease with more time in the bottle. Wonderfully alive, memorable and a breathtaking wine. Wow! Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware." Drink now to 2026
97 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz - Full of energy which bursts from the glass. Exuberant nose, filled with Meyer lemon and salty wet stones, which sets a vivid image of a wild coast line brushed by the oceans spray. A touch of ripe white stonefruit emerging with aeration however, gentle citrus and invigorating minerality take control. The palate offers mouth-watering sea minerals, I guess an expression of the limestone terroir, which makes it a serious contender to the great wines of Burgundy (and extremely good value before any comparisons). Rich and layered textures flow effortlessly but it’s the overall sense of calmness and control which I love the most.
96 points - Peter Robinson "The wine begins with beautifully inviting aromas of lemon peel, nectarine and white blossom that sit perfectly next to gentle butterscotch, vanilla and a tiny hint of nutmeg in the background. The palate is precise, and offers bright, citrus and orchard fruits with a pure mineral and saline core. A touch of sweet oak adds softness and further layers with a slight viscosity. This wine is incredible value, perfectly constructed, every component having its role to play with a focus on the subtleties. Delicious!" Tasted 20th Feb 2019
Chardonnay is an incredibly malleable grape, deriving much of its character from the soil and climate. The limestone-infused clay soils mirror the soils of Chardonnay's spiritual home in Burgundy. The block is planted with a mix of clones over 20 years old and grown on their own roots for true expression. The vines are tended entirely by hand; spur-pruned which allows good exposure in the fruiting zone to the sun and warm North West wind that blows through the block. The maturity of these old vines self-regulates the crop load and the clusters are never thinned.
Planting density:1850 vines/ha
Already proving a hit with our customers...
Another 100 Pointer in the making?
Tim Mondavi’s appropriately named project Continuum is set up high on Pritchard Hill, not far from Bryant Family Vineyard and Colgin and now is proving to be one of Napa’s cult followings with each and every vintage release selling out.
Last year, the 2015 quickly sold-out following high scores from all critics, including 100 points from James Suckling.
In the first instance, our allocation of 40 cases is offered to our private customers followed by our trade customers in two weeks…
It is available from five, respected UK wine merchants @ £1,250.00 IB per case of six.
Vinorium customers are welcome to purchase @ £1,000.00 IB per case of six.
Delivery End of March
98-99 points -James Suckling "This shows fantastic focus and beauty with blackberries, mineral, lead pencil, graphite and stones. Full body, juicy fruit and silky tannins. Long and flavorful. Great potential."
94-97/100 points - Antonio Galloni "I tasted the 2016 Continuum from two hypothetical blends, both of which point to a vintage of significant potential. The first blend reveals a wine of considerable aromatic intensity and power, while the second shows the more nuanced side of the estate. Both are compelling."
As the face of Australian wine continues to change, we look at how each region is spurring these changes.
Australia is a land that seamlessly combines innovation and progress with a deep understanding of the importance of heritage and this week we are focussing on both the pioneers and the rising stars of the Barossa.
A land of rolling hills and ancient vines, in the heart of South Australia, Barossa is arguably Australia’s most recognised wine region, but has not been without its ups and downs.
Barossa’s story began in the mid 1800s when a group of Silesian Lutherans, fleeing religious persecution, settled in the region and began working the land of Barossa’s largest land owner George Fife Angas. The settlers took to growing fruit and due to the climate in the region, grapes were most ideally suited and toward the end of the 1800s, several wineries had been established. Distinctly Germanic names such a Johann Henschke, Oscar Seppelt of Seppeltsfield and Kaesler that are leading names in the Barossa wine industry today are evidence of these early pioneers, and many are continuing today through several generations of the same family.
The wines were originally produced for religious and home use but it didn’t take long before they were being made commercially and by the start of the 20th Century wine was being exported back to England. The demand for fortified wine was huge and this coupled with the long journey on water, fortified wines dominated Barossa’s wine market right up until the end of the 1960s, but this would lead to a crisis that would set the industry into decline. As demand for fortified wines dried up, many growers were left unprofitable and the South Australian Government introduced the vine pull scheme, uprooting many of Barossa’s ancient vines during the 1980s. It took the efforts of some of the regions new faces of the time to bring the industry back by paying the growers above market value for their grapes, and saving the old vines that have become a hallmark of Barossa wine.
It is Barossa’s ancient vines that have shaped the region's style and reputation and the forward thinking attitude of the region's producers is one that is only beginning to filter through to the rest of the wine world. The winemakers of the 1980s helped to revive Barossa’s heritage, paving the way for the next generation of Barossa winemakers and this balance between heritage and progression has continued with an unparalleled energy through the region's newest and brightest stars of the 21st Century.
Wolfgang Franz Otto Blass created a Cabernet-Shiraz, Australian wine legend when he launched Wolf Blass Black Label in 1973. Its first three vintages scored an unprecedented hat-trick by winning the prestigious Jimmy Watson trophy at the Royal Melbourne Show, which has never been repeated. This prodigious accolade was repeated with their 1998 vintage... It is the most awarded red wine in Australia with the 1994 being the only vintage not to win a gold medal. Each vintage averages 7 gold medals, which is an admirable boast.
Like many of the iconic Australian wines, Wolf Blass Black Label is a multi regional blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz being the dominant grape varieties. A little Merlot and Malbec can be found in some vintages but their percentages are small. The fruit comes from Barossa, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek, Coonawarra and Clare Valley. A higher proportion of Shiraz is added to cool vintages and more Cabernet Sauvignon to warm ones as the absolute key is balance and harmony.
The philosophy behind Black Label is simple: to take the year’s very best wines and weave them together into a synergistic whole, the resultant wine being greater than the sum of its parts. It’s about creating a wine with many layers of flavour in a complex composition of intense fruit characters, magnificent structure, a rich lustrous texture, long velvety tannins and a lingering palate.
98+ Points Stuart McCloskey
“Textbook aromas of pencil lead, blackcurrants and touch of wood smoke intermixed roasted meats, dried herbs, ground pepper and blackberries. The 2012 possesses great purity and the quality of the fruit is clearly evident as is the winemaking skill. The wine is elegant and impeccably balanced – Not a hair out of place. Silk-like tannins compliment the deeply layered fruit and the seamless acidity keeps everything in check. The finish seems eternal, which is exactly what you want it to be. Simply stunning, an absolute joy to drink now (3-4 hours in a decanter) but will live well into 2030+”.
Vineyard Region: Langhorne Creek - McLaren Vale
Grape Varieties: 54% Cabernet Sauvignon - 41% Shiraz - 5% Malbec
Maturation: Matured as individual vineyard batches in a combination of 40% new and 38% seasoned French oak, 12% new and 10% seasoned American oak for 20 months.
Drinking / Cellar Window: Now to 2040
Closure: Screw cap
£55.00 per bottle
St Hallett was started in 1944 by the Linder family and over time have built a reputation as a benchmark of Barossa winemaking, being one of the first to understand the importance of saving Barossa’s old vines. Focussing on high end, single blocks and separate parcels with a commitment to batch processing each parcel separately throughout the whole process, from crushing through to aging. Each parcel needs to be handled differently due to the slight variations between them, and the meticulous care and attention St Hallett dedicate to this ensures the very best wines are crafted.
Headed by winemaker Toby Barlow who studied winemaking at Adelaide University he worked for several wineries across different world regions which include Brown Brothers (NE Victoria), Argyle (USA) , Matua (NZ) , Monarch (Hunter Valley) and Cave de Tain l’Hermitage (France). This diverse experience has awarded Toby invaluable experience across numerous regions, working with various climates, varieties and styles that influence his winemaking in Barossa.
All their grapes are sourced from within the Barossa Zone, their Old Block being the leader of their range produced from old vine grapes from Lyndoch and Eden Valley supported by fruit grown in Greenock, Ebenezer and Seppeltsfield.
St Hallet’s offerings include their flagship wine, Old Block Shiraz which is produced from ancient, 100 hundred-year-old vines. The Blackwell Shiraz is superbly crafted. Each parcel of Shiraz is individually matched to one of a selection of American oak barrels in which the wine spends two years maturing and gaining considerable texture and power prior to release.
Butchers Cart Shiraz 2015
The Barossa is, perhaps, a little misjudged when it comes to the perception of wine styles and climates… We gained a fascinating insight to the diversity of Barossa Valley through the range and history of Grant Burge with Craig Stansborough (chief winemaker, producing wines for Grant Burge for over 20 years), whom we had the pleasure of hosting in early September 2018.
The majority of Grant Burge's fruit is sourced from the southern half of the Barossa, which has higher rainfall compared to the north. This provides wines with more balance and freshness. The southern soils (rich deep red/brown medium clay/loam and are rich in nutrients with ideal water-holding capacity) play an important, and distinct role in the final wine. Southern Barossa wines generally are focused towards red berry fruit whereas the drier north often produces wines which are rich with big plummy, ripe characters.
Craig believes attention to detail is of utmost importance when crafting beautiful Barossa wines. The team is blessed with fantastic fruit which requires polishing and shaping, rather than heavy-handed manipulation in the winery.
“Our wines are renowned all over the world for their consistent quality and integrity, allowing the terroir of the hallowed Barossa Valley to speak for itself through minimal intervention winemaking practices and careful vineyard management. We source fruit from vineyards planted throughout the Barossa, and each planting features individual microclimates and characters, with grape varieties matched to the vineyards, ensuring harvests are of the highest quality”.
Grant Burge craft a number of wines, each unique and different in style. Ranging from rich and full to elegant and ethereal, as well as lighter, fruit-driven wines. Clearly, the versatility of the region is one of its greatest strengths and something that the Grant Burge family have nurtured for centuries and more, specifically since March 1855, when John Burge immigrated to the Barossa from Hillcot, near Pewsey in Wiltshire, England with his wife Eliza and their two sons. John worked as a winemaker at Hillside Vineyards and his love of viticulture was passed onto his son Meshach, who continued the tradition, making his first wine in 1865. Although Grant Burge winery was not established until 1951, the heritage of the Burge Family carries through generations of winemakers.
The icon from their range
Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2012
98 Points - James Halliday "The 22nd release of Meshach celebrates the great '12 Barossa Valley vintage. The colour is still deep crimson-purple, setting the pattern for the bouquet and palate to follow. A wine of the highest quality in the Olympian class of Barossa Valley shiraz, seamless, calmly powerful and perfectly balanced. Black fruits dominate, but this is no one-dimensional power play, with hints of licorice, bitter chocolate and graphite. The tannins and oak contributions are perfectly placed and paced."
Headed by winemaker Pete Schell who over the years has worked six French vintages in Provence, the Languedoc, Bordeaux and Burgundy, this experience having a profound influence on his winemaking. Working alongside his wife Magali Gely, they moved to Australia from New Zealand in the 1990s to study oenology and marketing at Roseworthy college, they started Spinifex in 2001.
Pete sources grapes from a dedicated team of growers in the Barossa and Eden Valleys taking advantage of the diverse range of soils and micro climates across the Barossa zone. He draws on his experiences in France to craft wines from varieties that dominate Southern French wine, Mataro (aka Mourvedre), Grenache, Shiraz and Cinsault and his approach is of an old style using open top fermenters, basket presses and long post-fermentation maceration on the skins.
Pete has also joined the elite group of Barossa producers to receive the coveted five star rating from James Halliday and is also a member of the Artisan of Barossa, a group of winemakers who strongly believe in the philosophy of small batch winemaking with a focus on regional terroir. This attitude is carried through into their wines, the Papillon is sourced from low yielding, hand harvested, dry-grown bush vines that range from 40 to 120 years old. The Esprit is a Grenache dominant blend made from grapes grown across several vineyards that range from 25 and 160 years old, each vineyard playing a vital role and adding their individual identity to the wine.
Spinifex have won much acclaim from critics such as James Halliday calling their wine “nothing short of electrifying” and James Suckling calling Pete “a New Zealander transplanted to the Barossa is one of the stars of the region”.
The historic vineyard located in the idyllic, rugged surroundings of the Barossa Ranges was planted at the beginning of the last century and is home to some of Barossa’s oldest vines. Now owned by Greg and Alison who, in 1995 left their life in the city to move their family Sean, Bridget and Jessica to start a new life amongst the vines.
With a strong belief in organic and biodynamic practices, Greg and Alison have managed to bring renewed vitality to these ancient vines by carefully and painstakingly hand pruning and removing dead wood from the vines to re-establish their original shape, helping the vines to continue to prosper. The unique soil and cooler climate in the Barossa Ranges allow the vines to be ‘dry-grown’, only watering in extreme conditions to maintain the health of the plant. The soil is coarse, yellow, podzolic soil on top of clay subsoil, mixed with decomposing rock which has ideal water retention allowing for this practice. This results in extremely low yields of highly concentrated grapes, the cooler climate helping to preserve essential acidity, a combination that produces wines of great power and intensity.
Greg and Alison collaborate with their neighbour, winemaker Chris Ringland to produce their 1905 Shiraz, produced from the vineyard's original vines planted over a century ago. For their Gregor Shiraz, an Amarone style wine produced from hand-picked, semi dried grapes and their Tin Lids, a Shiraz-Cabernet blend they have worked for the past 10 years alongside Pete Schell of Spinifex. These flagship wines are made from extremely low yielding vines in miniscule quantities of just 130 to 300 cases.
Greg and Alison’s relationship with the winemakers they collaborate with is key, their influences showing throughout their wines. Chris Ringland is not only a colleague but a neighbour and close friend, his pedigree has gained him a reputation as Australia’s most iconic winemakers, his own wines selling for hundreds of pounds a bottle, a true testament to his skill as a winemaker and the possibilities of the Barossa Ranges terroir. We sell his Hoffman Vineyard Shiraz 2010 for a mere £274.00 a bottle!
The influences that Chris and Pete have had on the Hobbs wines is clear to see, the sheer level of concentration and power in the 1905 Shiraz is akin to Chris Ringland’s own wines, his signature clearly evident in the wine.
“Our philosophy in making our wines is simple; nurture the vines and concentrate on preserving the complex balance of flavours and acids as the grapes mature. The secrets of soil and seasons bring so much to the wines we make. Hand pruned, hand picked and hand made.” Greg and Alison
Regarded as one of Barossa’s most outstanding winemakers, Dan Standish, whilst still working as a winemaker at Torbreck in 1999, negotiated a parcel of 96 years old Shiraz vines from his father's vineyard in the Vine Vale subregion and began the Standish Wine Company. From these ancient vines Dan’s first wine was The Standish Shiraz of which he produces just 300 cases and features on the latest Langton Classification. This led to 2 further creations, The Relic and The Schubert Theorum. Dan has had a wealth of experience in winemaking working in Napa, Sonoma and Rioja, but it was the knowledge gained whilst working in Rhone that influenced him the most, his wines are a reflection of this intrinsic style.
The batches of fruit are fermented and matured separately and a meticulous selection process follows in which Dan will discard as much as 80% and sell it off in bulk as it just doesn’t make the grade. Only the finest material is sold under the Standish Wine Company label.
The Relic was by far and away the stand out wine from the Australia Trade Tasting, a wine that literally created a buzz in the room and almost had people queuing up to try it.
“The wines from Standish take Barossa’s traditional richness and power to higher levels of freshness and refinement without sacrificing anything along the way. Quantities of these wines are small to begin with, and only a fraction of the total production is exported to select markets, but they’re worth the necessary search. The 2016s from Dan Standish set a new standard for consistency and quality, with all four of these wines receiving a rating of 98 or 99 points.” Joe Czerwinski – Robert Parker.com
Rob Gibson began Gibson Wines in 1997 after a 22 year career working at Penfolds. In 1975 Rob began at Penfolds as a crusher operator and assistant in the red wine fermenters, but was offered a Penfold's Wines Traineeship in 1979 to study winemaking and viticulture. After completing this Rob joined the team of a new project that was aimed at selecting the very best quality Shiraz for Penfold’s Grange Hermitage production. This project led to ground breaking work discovering new information about the production of the very best Shiraz and for the first time connected the individual vineyard block characteristic at the point of veraison to the resultant wine character.
His 22 year career has earned Rob an incredible level of winemaking knowledge which show through both his Barossa and McLaren Vale wines, he is an expert at handling Shiraz, James Halliday calling his Barossa Vale Shiraz 2003 “classy and reminiscent of Penfold’s Baby Grange, Bin 389”, which given that Bin 389 sells for £50 and above, this is an amazing compliment to give a £14.95 bottle of wine. The wine is available under cork or under screw cap, the cork showing a greater level of maturity.
Rob’s time spent working at Penfolds has had a profound influence on his winemaking and cleary shows in his wines, the old vine series being a particular highlight.
View all 229 wines from Barossa Valley