Mitchell Harris Range
Mitchell Harris is the project of Pyrenees winemaker John Harris, a participant in this years WFA Future Leaders Program and apparently something of a rising star in Pyrenees winemaking (currently the senior winemaker at Mount Avoca).
If these releases are anything to go by then that’s an entirely justified tag. What I particularly like is the long, dry length on offer in this trio. Clever oak handling, modest alcohols and proper fruit tannins also add to the appeal. All that is really required is bottle age, as reflected in the moderate scores and profuse plus signs – cellaring styles all of them.
Oh and did I mention the prices? Tiny productions but without the usual inverse prices, these Mitchell Harris wines are deliciously well priced. But that only means they won’t last long….
I’ve included John’s comments about the wines (in italics)
Mitchell Harris Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2009
$19.95, Screwcap, 12%
‘Created in the Fume style, and utilising wild yeast fermentation, the aim here is to create a multi-layered Sauvignon Blanc with complexity, volume and length to complement the vibrant and tropical fruit flavours from the vineyard. Maturation in 2-4 year old French and Hungarian oak and battonage over 6 months imparts and aromatic and textural contrast to some of the more simple skinny fruit bombs flooding the Sauv Blanc market. 100 cases made.’
I quite like good oaked savvy styles, as a little well handled oak can work particularly well. Certainly provides an interesting, dry and textural wine here.
Light straw yellow in colour, this shows a fine vanillan oak etched nose with pineapple and lemon overtones. It’s a nose of finesse – crisp, clear and precise. Palate is suitably crisp and lemon touched and with shades of vanillan oak and a long underplayed length. It’s a palate that is lean but not ungenerous, with no shortage of natural acidity, finishing with just a hint of orange.
To my palate this needs an extra six months in the cellar to gain some weight, but no doubting the quality here – it’s a textural, dry and briny Sauvignon Blanc at an excellent price. 17.8/92+
Mitchell Harris Shiraz 2008
$29.95, Screwcap, 13.5%
‘Picked relatively early to capture the bright, tight and spicy dark berry characters from the vine, the 2008 Shiraz retains a firmly woven core of concentrated red fruit notes. Partial wild fermentation and whole bunch fermentation adds complexity and lift, whilst the addition of 2% Viognier added at assemblage lends further aromatic buzz and finesse on the palate. 100 cases made.’
Cherry red in colour, this shows some Viognier aromatic overtones of spiced peach on the nose, with the sweet ripe juiciness of 08 on show here, with some (welcome) stemmy nuances. It’s a liqueured and ripe nose with some wild musky perfume and a twinge of hammy stink. Interestingly the sweetness of the nose doesn’t come through on the palate, which starts with a bright cherry fruit attack on the front palate before a full mid palate and dry, light stem tannins to finish. It’s not my style of Shiraz, but I can appreciate how skillfully made and assembled this is. Should get even better with more bottle age. 17.3/91+
Mitchell Harris Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$21.95, Screwcap, 13.5%
‘Frost and drought had such a big impact on yields and fruit quality across Victoria in 2007. In the Pyrenees, lighter crops of Cabernet Sauvignon yielded open bunches and tiny berries with greater concentration and depth. Again in 2007, a splash of Cabernet Franc into the blend helps accentuate the mint, spice and fine chalky tannins. 250 cases made.’
It’s not in vogue at the moment, but this style of Cabernet I very much like. It really needs bottle age to show it’s best, but the dry, minty and tannic Pyrenees Cabernet style is actually quite delicious with some serious red meat. Structure over fruit and all the better for it.
Smoky, spice, eucalypt and bark nose with meaty broth overtones, set very deep indeed.
Dry, meaty and gruff palate of eucalypt and spice. Chewy grip just cries out for slow cooked lamb. Love the firm structure here without losing the deep dark (fruit driven) richness. Great cellaring style for $22. 17.6/92++