2010 Tyrrell’s Private Bin Releases
Private Bin? Sounds like some sort of new Penfolds label doesn’t it?
For lovers of Hunter wines though, Tyrrell’s ‘Private Bin Club’ offers the opportunity to purchase some of the Valley’s finest wines early and cheaply, coupled with access to a few absolutely stunning, low volume rarities that few people will ever see.
How do you get into this club you ask? Simple really, all one has to do is undertake to purchase at least a dozen wines annually, a task which is not hard considering both the quality and variety. Or at least I don’t find it hard…..
Looking at the range then, it’s not hard to notice that the focus is happily biased towards traditionally (and brilliantly so) styled, single vineyard/subregional Hunter Valley Shiraz, Semillon and Chardonnay, with this years releases focused on the 2009 reds (a mixed, if warm, Hunter vintage for those who picked judiciously, with soft medium bodied wines) and the 2010 whites (a warm, then wet and mildly challenging Hunter vintage, though Semillon is always somewhat immune to such vagaries. Forward riper wines though).
Just to further emphasise the quality of these current Private Bin releases, several of them – although barely bottled – have already picked up an accumulation of wine show bling, most notably at the recent Hunter Wine Show (which, ipso facto, marks these as some of the finest wines in the Hunter).
Before I launch into the notes though, a caveat: I have more Tyrrell’s wines in my cellar than any other winery and am an unabashed Hunter fan. Make of that what you may.
Oh and winery notes are in Italics. Price is per bottle for Private Members only (everyone else pays more). My notes are largely as they were written on the day of tasting (a standup affair in a suburban RSL club, complete with tartan carpet underfoot).
Tyrrells ‘Stevens’ Semillon 2010 $21.60 11% alc
‘The Stevens Semillon was harvested from the Glenoak vineyard, which is situated on a combination of light sand and red clay soils.’
Green nose and green fruit with a ripe, paw paw edge. Palate is all chalky, sandy green fruit. Long but soft style. Ferment esters still abundant. Very much freshly bottled, but a softer Stevens this year. 17.7/92+
Tyrrells Johnno’s Semillon 2010 $35 11.5% alc
This wine was made from Semillon grapes grown on Johnno’s vineyard, which was planted in 1908 and is situated on the sandy soils below the winery. The fruit was hand picked and then immediately basket pressed. This is a softer, more textural style of Semillon than we commonly make due to the minimal juice clarification and fermentation techniques.
Comes in a delightful screwcapped Riesling bottle and topped off with bespoke labelling. Old school redone, and redone very well.
Soft and green nose but with a creamier twang. I like that nose – full of promise. Long, green fruit palate is actually quite fleshy yet with that charismatic citrussy acid zing. Brilliant length. Quite open already. Length! Citrussy finish. Green apple but with more weight. Stunning. Glory! (I bought some) 18.7/95
Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2010 $35 12% alc
From two of the best old blocks of Semillon which have light, sandy well-drained soils.
The icon. Worthy of it’s mantle too.
It’s very tight, almost subdued on the nose with little bits of green fruit escaping. Palate though is…amazing… A power house of a wine, propelled by the most phenomenal natural acid that washes out the backside of your brain. Yet it’s a fuller style of Vat 1, a riper, more massive wine that you just know will win trophy after trophy after trophy. Think 2005 vintage. Stunning citrus length. Long. Double long. Icon intensity. Wow. Narrowly beaten by Johnno’s today, but will smash 20 years no sweat. Buy it for your grandkids birthday (I did, but not for the grandkids). 18.6/95
Tyrrell’s Futures Semillon 2010
Tyrrell’s very own en primeur wine, you buy this now and Tyrrell’s cellar it for you, with a residual to pay in several years time (or you can trade it in). What is not spoken is that this is Tyrrell’s HVD Semillon, a wine that is typically my favourite in the range. Not today though.
It’s typically a softer a wine is HVD and this is no different – very clean but rounded, with quite a deal of soapy melon fruit. It’s surprisingly fleshy, honeyed even, with lots of appeal and proper Semillon characters, yet I think it strictly lacks the length of the other wines in this lineup. 17.3/90
Tyrrell’s Vat 63 Chardonnay Semillon 2010 $21.67 13%
Four of the best old blocks have made up this year’s Vat 63. The Chardonnay is taken from our HVD, NVC and Short Flat vineyards while the Semillon is from the Pokolbin Hills Estate vineyard. The Chardonnay was fermented and matured in French oak for three months, and the Semillon was fermented in stainless steel. 70% / 30% blend.
The cheeky value pick of the range, you can’t deny the appeal.
Welcome peachy flesh on the nose with a lick of sao richness. Palate is creamy but with the trademark Semillon acidity. Playfully creamy but not overt. Oak sitting on top of the fruit at present but still attractive. Softly set and entirely pleasant, this could do with a little more bottle time to integrate further. Still an easy wine to recommend. 17.5/91
Tyrrell’s HVD Chardonnay 2010 $35 13.5%
The vineyard is dry grown and was planted in 1908. The 2010 vintage marks the 100th vintage from one of Australia’s most important vineyards. Hand picked and then basket pressed, the juice was cold settled for four days before fermentation began in stainless steel tanks, then the fermenting juice was transferred to French oak barriques (30% new.) The wine stayed in these barriques until July before it was bottled.
Just bottled but unquestionably smart. Conventional sao and popcorn oak nose. Mid palate richness fans out with bracing citrussy acid. Real drive through the palate. Buttercup and cream, but no fat. Quite lovely and juicy modern Chardonnay. More to come with bottle age too. 17.7/92+
Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay 2010 (Barrel Sample)
Fresh out of wood and looking like..it was fresh out of wood. Lovely peachy generosity but it’s all dominated by oak at present. Shape underneath looks correct though. Retaste.
Tyrrell’s Belford Chardonnay 2008 $29.67 12.5%
Hand picked and then basket pressed, fermentation began in stainless steel tanks before the partially fermented juice was transferred to 100% new French barriques to finish fermentation and for six months maturation.
Much more settled after the 10’s. Creamy but again with that classic base acidity (the Tyrrell’s Chardonnays are typically prevented from going through MLF). Gets a bit weird and distorted through the middle though, with some unusual cabbage flavours. Clean, if diffuse finish. Good, not great. 17/90
Tyrrell’s Vat 6 Pinot Noir 2009 $33 13.5%
The first release since 2006, the 2009 Vat 6 Pinot Noir was made entirely from the old vines on the 4 and 8 Acre vineyard. Wild yeast fermentation was conducted and a third of the ferment was whole bunches. Maturation took place in French oak barriques of which 10% were new, and the remainder being three year old ex Vat 47 wood.
Such an esoteric wine. Lives for ages too (I’ve had bottles that are still alive at 15 years+ How many other Aussie Pinots out there can last that long?). The challenge will always be that Vat 6 is more Hunter dry red than Pinot.
Sap, bacon bits, raspberry and a dollop of VA. Quite expressive if idiosyncratic. Pepper, cherry and spice palate is nicely ripe and full with a quite creamy middle. Warm finish with a little smoky whole bunch influence. Raspy acid. I could drink this, but the question will always be why? 16.8/89
Tyrrell’s Johnno’s Shiraz 2009 13% $45
A partner to the Johnno’s Semillon, this is the first release from one of our older vineyards. The Shiraz on Johnno’s was planted in 1908 on sandy alluvial soils, in contrast to the 4 Acres and Weinkeller vineyards, which are on deep red clay. The wine was matured in a new French oak cask (2700lt) for 15 months.
Modelled on a classic ‘Hunter Burgundy’, this is nothing if not interesting. Beautiful purple colour, almost boysenberry purple/red. Softly softly nose with raspberry, licorice and lifted pepper. Would love to sneak this into a Rhone lineup and watch everyone get it wrong. Palate is bright, almost Viognier edged glossy bright, with a lovely flow of medium weight fruit. Perfumed and pretty, if not especially serious (or is it?). Acid but not tannins. Quite beguiling and should sneakily improve in the bottle. 17.5/91
Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz 2009 13% $45
This 130 year old vineyard was carefully hand picked and sorted on the 12th & 13th February and was fermented in the traditional Tyrrell’s open vats. After ferment this wine spent 3 months on gross lees as it underwent malo-lactic fermentation in a 2 year old French oak cask (2700lt) and a new French cask (1500lt), and remained there for 15 months prior to bottling.
A cult wine in the making. but not everyone will get it…
Elegant and pretty, like Johnno’s, with that same boysenberry thing going on. Hunter Burgundy again. This wine though has the length, with more weight and more tannins to go with the perfume. Still in something of a funny place right now. Will live, again, forever. 18/93+
Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2009 13.5% $45
Sourced from the “old patch” of vineyard on Neil Stevens’ property on Marrowbone Rd, Pokolbin. This hillside block was planted in 1867 and is considered one of the oldest producing Shiraz vineyards in the new world. Hand picked and open fermented using classic hand winemaking techniques along with maturation in a new French oak vat (2700lt) have enhanced this wines unique character.
Typically my favourite red wine in the Tyrrell’s lineup, though I wasn’t feeling as much love this year (when compared to the wines around it at least).
Rich, meaty and very Hunter. Stinky even. Pepper meets plush fruit and more noticeable oak this vintage. Immediately richer and different after the two wines before it. Sinewy palate is much cleaner than the nose, with purple fruit weight. Still a little awkward. Funny stage? 17.3/90+
Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz 2009 13%
Made from only the oldest and best blocks on the Ashman’s property. Hand picked and fermented in open top fermenters. The wine was then matured in new and one year old French oak casks (2700lt) for 15 months prior to bottling in May 2010.
This cleaned up at the Hunter Wine Show just a few weeks back. Multiple trophies. I don’t blame them (the judges that is).
According to Tyrrell’s this is the most modern of the Vat Series Shiraz. To me it just seemed the most complete. Hunter Burgundy made for the noughties. Red soil richness. Chocolate and red earth. Lots of tannins too. Maybe less pretty, more gruff and masculine? Still utterly medium bodied. Winner. (I bought some). 18.5/94
Tyrrell’s Vat 8 Shiraz Cabernet 2009 13.5%
This wine is a blend of our premium Hunter Shiraz fruit from the Moon Mountain, Mathews and Weinkeller vineyards, with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hilltops region of New South Wales. After fermentation in the traditional open top vats the wine was matured in a combination of small French oak barriques (30% new) and one new large French oak cask (2700lt) for 15 months before blending and bottling.
Immediately more forward and modern, with that licorice ripe Hilltops edge. Brambles and choc mulberry flavours with more firmer fruit thanthe straught Hunter wines. Impact and dry tannins. Not as pretty but with upfront appeal. Give this to the Hunter haters. 17.7/92