What does Henschke’s Mount Edlestone and Hutton Vale Farm have in common?
Magda and I took along a dozen wines to September’s premium Australia tasting entitled ‘Australia Redefined' which was organised by the team at Wine Australia UK. The concept being that all entrants on show must sell for upwards of £20 per bottle (retail price). The event was well attended by the press – Perhaps they were lured with the prerequisite of sampling premium Aussie wine. We thought we would offer a flavour of Tasmania with representation from Hughes & Hughes, Glaetzer-Dixon and Domaine Simha with a dash of the Margaret River and the Yarra Valley (courtesy of Hoddles Creek, Soumah & Nocturne). Without exception, an Australian wine tasting must have Shiraz and we took along some beauties including Craig Stansborough’s After Five Wine Co, the goliath that is 2016 Standish The Relic and one of the finds of the year(s), Hutton Vale Farm Shiraz.
The press were all positively charming, engaged, personable and thirsty for knowledge. Magda and I spent much of the day pouring and talking with the likes of Susie Barrie MW, Jancis Robinson MW, Matthew Jukes, Alistair Cooper MW, Richard Bampfield MW, Team Decanter, and Aussie favourite, Mike Bennie who works closely with our very own Dr Edge. I thoroughly enjoy listening to their reactions and thoughts on our offerings. Most are honest, and I find little, if any argument with their respective assessments. After all, these are some of the finest palates in the world.
Regardless of status, personal preference with styles, use of oak, alcohol levels etc, everyone is looking for balance and ideally, a wine that delivers in all areas. Succinct, neat & tidy, personality, and nothing OTT. Given the volume of wines in the room, some (if they formed part of a group) split their duties. Team Jancis MW divided their sampling between Shiraz and Chardonnay. Alistair Cooper MW taking the red option with Jancis MW taking Chardonnay. Matthew Jukes can motor his way through the entire room and sampled every wine on our table. Usually, Matthew is a non-talker – a head down sipper and scribbler which I would say does not show Matthew at his best.
I get it – You have little time to talk when you plan to sample the entire room however, and I am sure without consideration, it may appear rather elitist.
"Hutton Vale was scored higher than Halliday’s sell-out Wine of the Year and 99-point, 2017 John Duval Entity."
That day, Matthew engaged on every wine as did the vast amount of respected palates. For example; Richard Bampfield MW spent an age with us, which I find fantastic and puts a zip into my stride. Every attending importer and producer needs to hear feedback but quite often, we all must wait. That said; Matthew Jukes was clear in his views and whilst shaking my hand, pointed and declared Hutton Vale Farm Shiraz as one of his 100 Best Australian Wines, a lovely nod to the quality of this very famous albeit unknown producer of great Shiraz. This week, JancisRobinson.com published their first article, written by Alistair. Surprise, surprise, guess which wine he chose as a standout and from our table, and taking the top spot? Hutton Vale Shiraz of course…
This superseded Nick Glaetzer’s Mon Père Shiraz 2017 which was declared “a lovely half-way house between Old and New World”, The After Five Co which was viewed as “Chocolate, cream and oak intertwined with smoke and stewed plums and fine tannins. Classy but a real powerhouse” and the epic 2016 Relic received a less-than epic score “definitely in a ripe style with extreme concentration. This will have its admirers, and it is impressive and showy. However, the alcohol is a little prominent for me on the finish”. The same wine received 99 points from Joe at RobertParker.com! Always remember, your opinion is the most important. Take guidance but always trust yourself…
Hutton Vale was scored higher than Halliday’s sell-out Wine of the Year and 99-point, 2017 John Duval Entity. What did Alistair think of our Hutton Vale Farm? “Mocha and coffee notes with dried figs. Full-throttle palate with mocha, and incredibly refined tannins – such concentration of fruit, and yes, that alcohol is hefty but it carries it beautifully. The acidity lifts it and keeps it going … a menthol twist leads to a harmonious finish”
How is this unknown producer/wine taking the top spot I hear you ask? The answer is super simple albeit rather lengthy in reply.
Owned by the Angas family, Hutton Vale Farm has an incredible story with an ancestry steeped in Australian history dating back to George Fife Angas who founded South Australia. However, it was the mention of the Mount Edelstone vineyard which piqued our interest, one of the most famous and revered sites in Australia, which is now owned by the Henschke family.
It was Ronald Angas, (the Great-Grandfather) who originally planted the great Mount Edelstone vineyard in 1912 and unusually for the time, planted 100% Shiraz. Ronald managed the vineyard and began selling the fruit to the Henschke family until they eventually sold it to Henschke in the 1970s. During the 1960s Ronald had taken cuttings from the Mount Edelstone vineyard and planted the Hutton Vale Farm vineyard just one kilometre north. At the same time, he planted single vineyard blocks of Riesling and Grenache which were followed by a further block of Shiraz (from the same root stock) and a single block of Cabernet Sauvignon during the 1990s.
The first vintage was in 1987 with John Duval, the Penfolds Grange winemaker at the time who was also a family friend, who had promised to show the family how good the fruit was. The wines are now produced by Kym Teusner of Teusner wines who first became familiar and developed an ambition to work with the Hutton Vale fruit whilst at Torbreck.
The vineyard contains some of the most sought-after fruit in the region, the sheer quality of this fruit continuously confirmed by some of Barossa’s best producers who source grapes from the Hutton Vale Farm vineyard for their flagship wines. Wolf Blass platinum label had previously won the title of world’s best Shiraz using fruit from the Hutton Vale vineyard which is an incredible statement to be able to make. But perhaps even more impressive is that Dan Standish uses 100% Hutton Vale Farm Shiraz for his Lamella.
We love this wine and I personally find the quality and sympathetic approach to farming and winemaking at the highest level. The wine itself, is something very special indeed and I would implore you to give it a bash. I have reduced the price for the week to assist your temptation…
Hutton Vale Farm Shiraz 2014
97+/98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “A pure bouquet of blackberry intermixed with warm, dry earth, musky herbs, menthol, graphite and pen ink. To be honest, you would run out of superlatives as the bouquet is endless and constantly changes with more aeration. The tannins are a touch chalky contrasted with magnificent layers of perfectly ripe, black fruits. Far from being heavy or clumsy – quite the contrary. A shrill of redcurrant on the entry followed by a wave of brooding, briary fruit laced with sweet spices falling to Provençal herbs and touches of menthol. The Mount Edelstone connection (one of Australia’s greatest single-vineyard wines) plays a significant role, but I wonder how much nature has shaped this wine? So natural and so effortless. A remarkable wine… Decanted for 4 hours and served using Zalto Bordeaux Glassware. Drink now or over the next decade and beyond.”
Hutton Vale Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Winemaker - "Machine picked and destemmed to open fermenters where it was inoculated with selected yeast strains and fermented warm (peaking at around 24C) over 5 to 7 days. During this time the ferment was hand pumped over (by actual humans) twice a day for 45 minutes each time. It was then drained and pressed to tank to ferment to dryness. Malolactic fermentation was completed in thick staved French Oak puncheons (40% new) with maturation for 30 months. A further 20 months in bottle saw them finally ready for release.
Deep red in colour, the nose is distinctly Cabernet-like with mulberry and blackberry fruit and hints of mint backed by French oak, pencil shavings, and wisps of violet. Juicy red berries on the palate are surrounded by velvety tannins, tobacco and spice notes. A long tannin/acid profile to finish is indicative of this wine’s aging potential."
£33.50 per bottle
Hutton Vale Farm Grenache Mataro 2012
Winemaker - “There’s a great story about this Grenache vineyard, planted by Colin Angas in the 1960’s. The soil here was so tough that some of the new plantings, probably 10% of the vineyard block, failed to take to their new home and had to be replaced. New cuttings were hastily acquired…which time revealed to be Mataro! That no one ever thought to start over (yet again) is brilliant fortune as the Mataro makes a ripper partner for the Grenache.
Across the Barossa, the growing and harvest conditions were ideal. The Grenache (93%) and Mataro (7%) were handpicked on April 10, destemmed and fermented on skins in small open stainless steel fermenters for 6 days with twice daily pump overs. The wine was matured in a combination of 20% new and 80% seasoned French puncheons for 24 months.
On the nose there’s plenty of ripe plum, strawberry, charcuterie, licorice, leather polish and salted dried herbs. The palate is rich and complex, loaded with a blend of red and black fruits, salted licorice, savoury nuances and a fine tannin line finishing soft and supple.”
£33.50 per bottle
Hutton Vale Farm Riesling 2017
95 Points - James Halliday "If you ever want to show someone just how glorious the riesling grape can be, serve them a glass of this. It's agenda-free riesling, fundamentally delicious, intense with flavour but not cutting, gorgeous at every turn, cellarworthy if you so desire but in no way is patience a prerequisite. Lime, orange blossom, a gently candied aspect, a slip of pure lemon. It's bold and it's beautiful."
Winemaker - "Colin Angas was quick to realise the potential for the EdenValley to be an exceptional region for Riesling and planted a vineyard on a gentle slope in the 1960’s. Whilst considered a single vineyard, there are two distinct sections. The top section planted on the leanest soils and more exposed to the wind produces very tightly structured fruit with crisp, vibrant acidity. The bottom section, on deeper, more vigorous red soils produces plumper bunches of fruit that showcases more fresh aromatics and citrus zing.
£17.95 per bottle
Australia’s best kept secret & one of the regions most historic families.