Issue #114, May 2020

 

Wild Duck Creek Estate
A journey through the years

 

Over the past 30 years, Wild Duck Creek Estate has gone through an evolution rather than a revolution. David Anderson’s Wild Duck journey started from the tender age of eighteen when he purchased Alan’s Cabernet block (in the mid 1970s which is named after his Father).

David’s ultimate goal was to create a beautifully crafted Bordeaux style wine from his home in Heathcote, Central Victoria. He embarked on his project and began planting the classic five grape varieties found across Bordeaux - Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot.

He practiced his winemaking using the fruit from this vineyard for 15 years, embracing his style with help from a prominent winemaker in Victoria, namely Mr Stuart Anderson (no relation) of Balgownie Estate in Bendigo. Stuart also shared David’s passion for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Working with fruit from Alan’s Cabernet vineyard gave David confidence in his winemaking ability and he set to the task (in 1988) of planting the Original Vineyard on the property belonging to his wife Diana’s parents, which was just around the corner on Spring Flat Road. Unbeknown to David at the time, this vineyard would produce some of the very best Shiraz fruit in Australia.  This is difficult to argue with, given the praise from the world’s critics for some of the wines crafted from this special vineyard. The super rare Duck Muck being one in particular.

We asked David’s son, Liam, now the chief winemaker and firmly at the reins of the family venture, about his early recollections…

Liam: “Dad is a fabulous winemaker not because of perfect science, but because of perfect art. He makes wine by feel, understanding that each season is different, and that wines are made in the vineyard first. All of his effort was to create the best grapes imaginable. This was the biggest gift he gave me as a winemaker, and possibly as a son.”

The first commercial vintage for Wild Duck Creek Estate was in 1991, where David made a mere 100 cases of two wines, Springflat Shiraz and Alan’s Cabernet. Then came Alan’s Cabernet Pressings in 1992, Shiraz Reserve and Duck Muck were produced in 1994 and the first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve in 1995.

 

The world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, which remains under the radar

The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (formerly without the title ‘reserve’) came to life when David began to understand the quality of the grapes that were being produced from Alan’s vineyard. The fruit always displayed purity, but distinguishing certain blocks / vines was an almost impossible task as the vineyard produced fabulous fruit in abundance. We understand that David took into account which vines produced the best balance between leaf quality and berry size – the health of the berry being incredibly important too. 

Today, David and Liam produce two pure, 100% Cabernet Sauvignons; The Reserve and Ducks & Drakes. Alan’s Cabernet and Alan’s Pressings utilise the original plantings of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Domestic demand for all of their wines is huge with many wines selling out to customers of old or via pre-allocations. Sadly, and for this reason, The Vinorium struggles to receive large allocations with their Cabernets being incredibly small. Some years, we do not receive a single case, until today… We have spent many, many months negotiating with Liam regarding the possibility of bringing a small quantity of their historical collection to the UK. At first, we met much resistance however, we gently wore Liam down and he came around to our way of thinking. We must mention (as we have promised) this is strictly a one-off collection which will not be repeated – Liam’s words and not ours!

Without further ado, we are bowled over to present some truly world class Cabernet Sauvignon which we had the privilege to sample this week

 

Wild Duck Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Only 70 cases produced. Sourced from 100 buckets of visually perfect fruit. 90% Cabernet, 5% Merlot and 5% Malbec. Some Cabernet Sauvignon from the original 5 rows is added.

98++ Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet purrs effortlessly with cedar, old-school pencil box, mint, blackberry, macerated cherries with a little background smokiness - more Pauillac than Heathcote with a sensuous ‘Margaux’ feel to it.  The palate is medium-bodied and oozes charm. The balance is sublime as the wine dances gracefully across my palate. The sweet, black fruits are flanked by filigree tannins with mahogany, graphite, and liquorice taking me straight back to Bordeaux. Almost 20 years and now at its peak. Supremely effortless and a wine which will take you on a wonderful voyage (do not spoil the moment by serving with food). Just glorious for me and sourced with perfect provenance, as it was stored at Wild Duck Creek’s cellar until 2020. Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Decanted for 2 hours (no more please).”

£51.50 per bottle

* 48 Bottles available *

 
 

Wild Duck Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008

98-99 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The aromatics are sexy and engulf the senses with crème de cassis, ripe raspberry coulis, blackcurrant compote, framboise, sloes, cold stones, with a smidgen of iron, lead pencil and a dash of seaweed on the finish. You would not believe its vintage by the power of the aromas. The palate follows the same opulence and drenches you with super-ripe fruit which keeps you salivating. A solid core of tannin and acidity counterpoint perfectly. This is very impressive and shows Wild Duck Cabernet Sauvignon in a completely different light (the ’01 vs. the ’08 could not be further apart). I love the waves of exquisitely ripe black raspberry. The density and richness of fruit is impressive, as is the flawless texture, but the wine’s ability to keep fleet of foot is remarkable. The finish is formidable and very, very long. 99 points if I can take a bottle home! Decanted for three hours and served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drinking now to 2030+”

£51.50 per bottle

* 78 Bottles available *

 

We asked Liam and David to provide a few words regarding their experiences with each vintage…

“2001 was a true Cabernet vintage. The vines flourished in the cooler yet dry conditions, creating wines of presence and poise. The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is truly a fabulous wine. I drank a bottle of it three days ago and it still had lashings of its dark berry fruits. It was restrained yet ultra-complex, with notes of undergrowth, earth and spice making this wine an absolute delight to consume now.

Conversely, the 2008 vintage all through South-East Australia was one of the hottest vintages we had had up to that date. Not only were the prevailing conditions very dry after 7 years of continuous drought, there was a heat wave of 40 degrees celsius for 13 consecutive days through late February and early March. This brought ripening on very fast. Consequently, Shiraz in 2008 began their lives in bottle being quite forward, and after 12 years in bottle they look much more developed than the Cabernet Sauvignon, which suffered the heat much better than Shiraz. The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Wild Duck Creek Estate are still going strong. Fuller and richer in flavour due to the growing season conditions, these wines are particularly special as they show the greatness of Cabernet Sauvignon even in the toughest of years.”

For the very first time, and completely new to us, we present a tiny allocation of their Ducks & Drakes

Wild Duck Creek Ducks & Drakes Cabernet 2017

Winemaker Notes - "We think of this wine as the sister to Springflat Shiraz, yet its Cabernet Sauvignon. Luscious and textural, Ducks & Drakes delivers all the classic Cabernet Sauvignon characters in a very “Heathcote” style. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from two distinct vineyards each year. Full bodied, luscious and driven, just as Heathcote Cabernet should be. The grapes are fully de-stemmed, then fermented in open fermenters, gently hand plunged and pumped over to soften tannins, then basket pressed into French and American oak hogsheads and puncheons, 40% of which are new. A wine that can be carefully cellared for up to 15 years."

£23.95 per bottle

* 52 Bottles available *

 

David and Liam believe this is the natural sibling to the Springflat Shiraz. They say “ It is luscious and textural, Ducks & Drakes delivers all the classic Cabernet Sauvignon characters in a very “Heathcote” style. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from two distinct vineyards each year. Full bodied, luscious and driven, just as Heathcote Cabernet should be. The grapes are fully de-stemmed, then fermented in open fermenters, gently hand plunged and pumped over to soften tannins, then basket pressed into French and American oak hogsheads and puncheons, 40% of which are new. A wine that can be carefully cellared for up to 15 years.

We’re yet to sample it – Here are their notes…

Entirely from our Northern vineyards at Colbinnabbin. We think of it as the sister to Springflat Shiraz. Vivid red in colour, with lifted aromas of black fruits and tobacco. The palate is rich and full of blackberry liqueur, bay leaf and olive tapenade flavours. This wine has a structure that builds up over time, with layers of lovely Cabernet tannins wrapping around the succulent fruit flavours. Matured in a blend of French and American oak hogsheads (30% new) for 22 months. It’s big and beautiful. Cellar for up to 15 years if you have the patience. 15.0% alc.

 
 

Shiraz

…The story continues with their beloved Shiraz, which and for our customers, is the most important varietal and also forms part of the historical collection.

Reserve: Domestically sold on an allocation only basis and the majority of The Vinorium’s allocation is pre-sold to Stu’s trade customers. Our allocation of the current release (2017) highlights these restrictions – we received just 24 bottles! But, we have received 48 bottles of the maturing 2013 which is another first for the team and you…

 

Wild Duck Creek Shiraz Reserve 2013

Winemaker Notes - "Estate grown Shiraz of exceptional quality.No stone is left unturned in the production of Shiraz Reserve. The vineyards are cared for meticulously through hard cane pruning, shoot thinning in spring, under-vine mulching, as well as fruit thinning if needed at veraison to control yield and separate bunches. The fruit is then partly destemmed, often using up to 50% whole bunches in the ferment to create layers of texture, slow down fermentation and control temperature. The resulting wine is then basket pressed into 100% new French oak barriques where it will lay for up to 27 months depending on the vintage."

£51.95 per bottle

* 35 bottles available *

Wild Duck Creek Shiraz Reserve 2017

Winemaker Notes - "Estate grown Shiraz of exceptional quality.No stone is left unturned in the production of Shiraz Reserve. The vineyards are cared for meticulously through hard cane pruning, shoot thinning in spring, under-vine mulching, as well as fruit thinning if needed at veraison to control yield and separate bunches. The fruit is then partly destemmed, often using up to 50% whole bunches in the ferment to create layers of texture, slow down fermentation and control temperature. The resulting wine is then basket pressed into 100% new French oak barriques where it will lay for up to 27 months depending on the vintage."

£231.35 per case of 6 In Bond

* SOLD OUT *

 

The craftsmanship and skill that makes the ‘Reserve’ Shiraz

No stone is left unturned in the production of Shiraz Reserve. The vineyards are cared for meticulously through hard cane pruning, shoot thinning in spring, under-vine mulching, as well as fruit thinning if needed at veraison to control yield and separate bunches. The fruit is then partly destemmed, often using up to 50% whole bunches in the ferment to create layers of texture, slow down fermentation and control temperature. The resulting wine is then basket pressed into 100% new French oak barriques where it will lay for up to 27 months depending on the vintage.

Unusually, we have not sampled the current vintage –
How can we when we have 24 bottles?

Liam and David: “Almost black with a dark purple hue. A selection of extraordinary fruit from our best Shiraz vineyards – the ‘Original Vineyard’ and ‘Mia Mia Vineyard’ in the South, and the ‘Mt Pleasant Vineyard’ in the north. These parcels of fruit are hand selected, often only individual bunches taken from vines that have best withstood the harsh Heathcote summer. The wine is bright, rich and seductive. 5% whole bunch here, adding a vibrant lift from the glass. The nose is all black pastel, charcoal, spice and red fruit compote. The palate has a wonderful electricity about it, with beautiful acids and a smooth finish. It’s full of violets, blue and black fruits, all alongside concentrated plum and chocolate. The mouth feel has real grip here, and is unlike any other wine in the line-up. The finish is long and framed by abundant tannins. Matured in 90% new French oak and 10% new American oak barriques for 23 months. Cellar 12 years+. 16.2% alc. (200 cases only).”

 

Springflat Shiraz 

Facts:

• 100% Shiraz and their original flagship wine having been produced in every vintage since 1991.

• The biggest selling Wild Duck Creek Wine for The Vinorium. 4059 bottles sold since 2017 with a total sales value of over £100,000 (much of this was based on old stocks which have subsequently sold out)

How it’s Produced:

Springflat Shiraz is a blend of four distinct, estate grown vineyards in the Heathcote region. Parcels of fruit are made separately, utilising a small amount of whole bunches in the ferments for added texture, hand plunged, basket pressed and then matured in French and American oak hogsheads for up to 22 months, 40% of which are new.

From their Cellar:

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2003

£34.50 per bottle

* 9 Bottles available *

Also available at £318.25 per case of 12 In Bond

 
 

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2008

£33.50 per bottle

* 18 Bottles available *

Also available at £308.25 per case of 12 In Bond

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2013

£31.50 per bottle

* 12 Bottles available *

Also available at £288.25 per case of 12 In Bond

 
 

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2015

£29.95 per bottle

* 18 Bottles available *

Also available at £272.25 per case of 12 In Bond

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2016

£30.00 per bottle

* 56 Bottles available *

Also available at £273.00 per case of 12 In Bond

 

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz Mixed 5 Pack

Contains:

1 x Springflat Shiraz 2003
1 x Springflat Shiraz 2008
1 x Springflat Shiraz 2013
1 x Springflat Shiraz 2015
1 x Springflat Shiraz 2016 

RRP £159.45 per case

Special Offer Price £147.50 per case

Only 30 mixed packs available at this special offer price

 
 

Yellow Hammer Hill

A Blend Of Shiraz, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon

Last year saw the inaugural arrival in our own cellar, with the 2016 selling out incredibly quickly. The original blend was Shiraz and Malbec with the later addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to provide a greater textural diversity. The grapes are sourced from the same vineyards every year, gently de-stemmed, hand plunged and basket pressed. The wine is matured for up to 23 months in older French and American oak barriques, hogsheads and large format vats, as well as some concrete vats for added complexity. Unlike many in their collection, Yellow Hammer can be enjoyed young but does have the structure and fruit quality to last a decade or so in your home cellar…

Our mature collection continues with the 2011 and 2012 joining the current 2017 vintage

 

Wild Duck Creek Yellow Hammer Hill
Shiraz Malbec 2011

£19.50 per bottle

Also available at £168.25 per case of 12 In Bond

 
 

Wild Duck Creek Yellow Hammer Hill
Shiraz Malbec 2017

£16.95 per bottle

Also available at £142.75 per case of 12 In Bond

Wild Duck Creek Yellow Hammer Hill
Shiraz Malbec 2012

£19.50 per bottle

Also available at £168.25 per case of 12 In Bond

 

Wild Duck Creek
Yellow Hammer Hill 3 Pack

£55.95 per 3 pack

 

From Father to Son: The style remains but the practice has changed.

Liam spent eleven vintages under the close tutorage of his Father before taking the full reins as senior winemaker in 2007.  Liam speaks openly about the difficulties of working in a close, family business and was conscious of family politics, the house style, and of course, being the new kid on the block, as he referred to himself. As such, the proceeding four vintages under his control were less than natural – Liam kept to traditions. Over time, Liam’s Father began to loosen his grip and his attitude toward Liam as the winemaker began to soften. He began not to question the decisions Liam was making, which was great and meant that Liam was able to make wines in the method that he felt was right for their future.

Liam began by exploring every detail which a vineyard can offer. Unquestionably, the quality of Wild Duck Creek wines has always been a testament to the quality of their grapes. Nonetheless, Liam wanted to push the quality further and embarked on a long programme which continues to this day. Cane pruning, underline mulching, reducing yields per vine and allowing the vines to express themselves without the aid of human intervention. This was and still is his viticultural mantra. He went further and began to refine the use of oak, which included lots of small batch experiments over three vintages before ultimately deciding on the best way forward for complete consistency.

Liam expressed that he wanted the natural tannins in the grapes to be the defining element of the age worthiness of their wines.  This results in a higher level of pH which his Father did not follow. Liam is proud to produce wines in the ‘family style’ - full bodied and rich, which he achieves through pushing the boundaries of ripeness, but never at the sacrifice of balance, which we agree with.

Liam recounts the 2011 vintage, which and to quote,

“was a season unlike any other we had experienced. Consistent rainfall throughout the growing season after nine years of drought meant that the vines were battling conditions they were not accustomed to, just like their humans. What held us in great stead that year was our consistent viticultural effort of shoot spacing.”

Liam went on to explain that he chose not to produce their very top wines but has a true fondness for the ones which made it to the bottle. The quality was excellent and they are just as age worthy as Duck Muck as all Reserve fruit was relegated to the likes of Yellow Hammer. Amazing wine for a fraction of the price!

From the 2012 vintage to the current release of 2018, Liam has enjoyed a great run of vintages through dry and sunny conditions. He says, “The wines from these vintages all show the hallmarks of sunshine in a bottle. Delightful wines full of poise and extract. The 2017 and 2018 vintages being the best of a great bunch. Spectacular vintages!”

We hope you enjoy them as much as we do…

Cheers, Magda

 
 

And the Super Rare
Wild Duck Creek Duck Muck Shiraz 2013

 

"Duck Muck when bottled is extraordinarily intense, with layers of texture, wonderfully complex aroma, and incredible length and depth."

The flagship wine from Wild Duck Creek and quite simply a benchmark wine. Made in tiny quantities from their original vineyards yielding just 1 ton an acre, Duck Muck is a wine of extreme concentration and complexity. Matured in 100% new French oak barriques, this is a wine of power, intensity and balance. We don’t have much as very little is made but to put it simply, this is an extraordinary wine!

£175.00 per bottle

* Only 12 bottles available *

Winemaker "Duck Muck was first made by a stroke of luck. Some super-ripe Shiraz was picked from our Original Vineyard and made into wine, which didn’t quite fill a barrel. The barrel was then topped up with Alan’s Cabernet Pressings, being the only wine available to David (Duck) at that time in 1994. The resulting wine was given away to our best customers. What David didn’t appreciate at the time was how the blend of these two vineyards, and that specific style, was going to create a wine that was not only of world class quality, but gain cult status all over the world. With a few refinements, Duck Muck is possibly the hardest wine for us to make. The vineyards are meticulously attended to. Cane pruned, shoot thinned, and fruit thinned to try and achieve the perfect balance in any particular vintage. The fruit is then picked and partly destemmed into small open top fermenters. The Original Vineyard Shiraz having 30% whole bunches left in the ferment. The wine is then gently basket pressed into 100% new Dominique Laurent barriques and matured for up to 27 months. Duck Muck when bottled is extraordinarily intense, with layers of texture, wonderfully complex aroma, and incredible length and depth."

 
 
 
 

C’mon – We have not received enough nominations. Those nominated last week & during this week will all receive a gift from us (The team will be in touch with your personal message and the delivery address).

 

Giving a little something back to our deserving friends and family.

We’ve loved reading some of the heart-warming nominations from our customers. Below are a few which we have received, we have removed all of the names and identifying details.

 

My nomination is a consultant radiologist, clinical director for radiology and an associate medical director. She has assembled an amazing team of imaging professionals, radiographers, radiologists, sonographers and clinical support workers, and has cultivated a positive, integrated culture through amazing leadership and genuine compassion. As this pandemic unfolded all her efforts have been rewarded and she continues to lead from the front as part of our Trust and regional response. Much is said about culture, and if we could clone her (we aren’t letting her go!)  and instil her qualities across the country the NHS would be in a much better place.

 

Her day job is as a paediatric HIV nurse in London, which is harrowing enough in itself, but she has been drafted in to work as a team leader on the front line with Covid-19 patients for the past few months. The reason I feel she deserves the nomination is that despite the awful Life threatening situation she works in every day, she is always positive and upbeat, posting stuff like the attached on FB. She has a husband who is a teacher and two sons. If anyone deserves a night off and a glass of something delicious, it is her. 

 

My wife and I are both (senior) trainee doctors. She works in neonatology and came back from maternity leave in March this year, just as Covid-19 truly arrived. I am currently working significantly more hours on a High Dependency Respiratory Unit, looking after only patients with Covid-19 who require non-invasive ventilation. This has posed a huge strain on our family, especially as our newly arranged childcare arrangements have collapsed and standard routes of support (grandparents!) are not available. She has dealt with this admirably, juggling her own work (premature and very sick babies are still being born), looking after our son and me after numerous long days and night shifts. She hasn’t complained  and indeed felt frustrated that she hasn’t been able to do more. I’m very lucky - as is the NHS - to have her and this is one way of saying thank you.

 

One of my favourite friends to drink wine with has been living with and battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. This has of course meant lots of hospital time, powerful drugs, horrible side effects, and less time spent with friends, and certainly less time sharing the great wines we enjoy. During the lockdown she has been and will be very strictly confined due to her compromised immune system. We are reduced to playing trivial pursuit over Zoom in place of our favoured Sunday night pub quiz. Through everything she is a stoic, she is brave, she smiles, and recently during lockdown she finds and shares simple beauty amongst the plants and insects in her garden - aided by the fact she is also a superbly talented photographer. So I would love it if you could send her a bottle of something, not as any kind of measure of sympathy but for the time when both corona and leukaemia are behind us and we can celebrate together again with our favourite people.

We would love to reward 54 people, with a bottle of our Tassie fizz, but we need a little help from you. We would like you to nominate a person who has placed others’ needs before their own. Of course, those working on the NHS frontline along with those working in our communities are worthy recipients, but we would like you to put forward whoever you feel should receive a lovely bottle of House of Arras fizz, during these difficult times. We will supply the wine, pick, pack and ship at our cost. You simply need to send us an email naming the person and why you feel they should receive the gift.

A short narrative would be greatly appreciated, as we will publish as many special stories as we can…

We will review all of your stories and each person selected will receive one of the following bottles:

•  36 x Btls House of Arras A by Arras Premium Cuvée NV

•  12 x Btls House of Arras 2007 Vintage Rosé

•  6 x Btls 2004 House of Arras Late Disgorged

We will contact you directly and request their home address for delivery and for you to write a message, which we will post along with their bottle.

We look forward to making the days of 54 people a little happier.

 

We are waiting for your tasting notes

The best and most accurate tasting note for Dr. Edge 2018 Tasmanian Pinot Noir or the 2019 Tasmanian Chardonnay wins a three pack!

Sample, enjoy and send your tasting note to our team 

We are down to our last 8 bottles of 2017 East Pinot Noir
and  only 13 bottles of 2017 South Pinot Noir.

 
 

“Some great wines emerging from this label, reminiscent of Standish in some respects, power but elegance, shaped by tannins, and the like, but wholly its own thing too.”

- Mike Bennie (The Wine Front)

JC’s Own New Collection

JC’s Own is the solo venture of Jaysen Collins, who in our opinion produces some extraordinarily good wine. If we were to be completely honest (hopefully JC will not see our comment!) we believe each wine is undervalued and could comfortably command a much higher price. 

 
 
 

Exciting Mixed Cases