10 x 20 years tasting – a plethora of Victorian goodies
‘Ten Victorian vineyards – established, owned and run by ten passionate families.
Ten families that have invested in an individual site for growing grapes, building a winery and making their own wines for twenty years or more.
Ten producers with a lifelong obsession with discovering the full potential of their vineyard, who strive to produce world class wines with the grapes from their vines.’
Producers who are strong minded, opinionated and fascinating individuals, focused on the art and science of producing wine of place and personality – and most importantly a delicious drink!
Put these ten producers in one room, pouring a selection of their best wines – something new and something older – and that’s a tasting not to be missed!
What surprised me was how many people missed the ‘trade’ session of this tasting. Sure, the clever ones made an appearance, but, by-and-large, the room was empty. Obviously they missed out big time, particularly given just how many 2010 vintage wines were on show, a vintage that was very very kind to many Victorian vineyards. That malaise is worrying though, a reflection of the occasional lack of respect given to such celebrated wineries. The public session, conversely, was well attended…
Personally, I just targeted a few producers/wines that I don’t get to normally see and found, unsurprisingly, much glory. I wish I had hours more to spend chatting to the absolutely genuine Pat Carmody from Craiglee or the wonderfully mad Phillip Jones of Bass Phillip. Heck, the combined wines and personality in that room was worth days of closer attention.
Here is just a few of the goodies tasted.The wines were tasted at speed and the notes are stunted. I hope you get the gist…
I love Bass Phillip. The wines can be murky, mercurial and unstable. When they’re good, however, they are amongst the best Pinots in the country, bar none. This lineup only supports that notion. Someone buy me all the 2010 Pinots please.
Bass Phillip Estate Chardonnay 2010 (Gippsland, Vic)
Biscuity oak on the nose, the palate is rich but has noticeably briny acidity, the style backward, firm and very serious. That oak is just a little resinous but the style is rather charismatic. 17.7/20 92/100
Bass Phillip Estate Pinot Noir 2010 (Gippsland, Vic)
Tomato leaf and raspberry, classic Pinot aromatics yet not sweet. Very stem driven but has the fruit to match. So very classic! I love this style. Yes. 18.5/20 94/100
Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2010 (Gippsland, Vic)
More reticent than the Estate Pinot but also with more structural drive. Perfection of line through the back. Exceptional length and a finish that lasts for minutes. There is a real stalky red fruit resonance to this that is pure warm year, cool climate Pinot. Wow. 19/20 96/100
Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2009 (Gippsland, Vic)
Decidedly more open and generous than the 2010, this is less classy but still very impressive. Richer red fruit, if just a fraction warmer and harder than the ’10. Hard act to follow indeed for this is a glorious mid weight Vic Pinot in the classic mould. 18.5/20 94/100
The dry stretch over and Craiglee is back on form, this 2010 Shiraz showing nothing of the confection that has plagued recent Craiglee Shiraz releases. That famous spice is still missing though (or not obvious at this stage).
Craiglee Shiraz 2010 (Sunbury, Vic)
Super glossy this vintage. Almost candied purple plum fruit even. Plush and round with proper acidity too. I like that glossy fruit, but just waiting for the structural penny to drop. Hold. 17.5/20 91/100+
The next generation of Thomon family members have begun to influence the direction of Crawford River and it appears to be for the better – not to say that wines were broken to begin with, but it is certainly welcome to see new labels and even a welcome dip into social media. That Young Vines Riesling deserves a special mention (the vines are 11 years old now which no doubt helps) as an example of the new good bits.
Crawford River Young Vines Riesling 2011 (Henty, Vic)
Floral, grapefruit and super tight nose with just a little honey escaping. Very pretty palate is delicate, driven by high acid but not unripe. Such purity and delicacy! Lovely cool clime Riesling. 18/20 93/100
Crawford River Riesling 2005 (Henty, Vic)
Just a flick of turpentine – it’s not pervasive. Underneath it’s delicate and toasty, not the obvious sort of toast found in Clare Riesling, but somehow lighter and fresher. Underneath that is grapefruit – lots of it. The glory here is that age-old tension between bottle age weight and super firm acidity. I like it so much, even if it’s very much a wine in motion. 18.5/20 94/100
Crawford River Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Henty, Vic)
Rich and quite powerful, love that thick, cedary, dark berry fruit character. So vibrant and youthful, if a fraction bulky and minty. Bordeaux meets southern Victoria. 17.8/20 92/100
Even during the Pyrenees drought vintages (2007-2009) Dalwhinnie’s wines have retained a sense of vitality. Having been there I can attest to the detail of the viticulture – when I visited the cover crops here looked healthier, the vines more alive than in many other vineyards around the area. These 2010 reds don’t dissapoint either.
Dalwhinnie Shiraz 2010 (Pyrenees, Vic)
Slightly dominant, slick oak but can’t mask the fruit underneath. I love the white pepper, the licorice, the extract and power. Luscious and briary yet savoury. Mid weight but powerful. Excellent 18.6/20 94/100
Dalwhinnie Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Pyrenees, Vic)
Very dry, almost severe. Perhaps too hard? Lean and classically long, minty palate. Looks precise and firm, a cool and backward wine. Will reward the patient. I like how unshowy this is, even if it needs the patience. 18/20 93/100
To be completely honest I haven’t loved the recent Jasper Hill releases. The best wines from this estate are brilliant, sure, however the past few vintages (Heathcote hasn’t had an easy viticultural ride of late) have often looked too candied and alcoholic to float my boat. The 2009 wines are certainly a step in the more balanced direction, even if the second label-esque 2011 red blend looked thin and light (though I oddly didn’t record a note).
This older wine reiterated just how good the ‘good’ can be.
Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz blend 2002 (Heathcote, Vic)
Dry, drying and tannin driven. I don’t ever remember Emily’s being so structured. Regardless this was rich and firm, ripe and long, all choc mint and a real sense of vitality. Straight out of left field and wonderfully drinkable because of it. Superb. 18.3/93
Only one wine tried in this Moorooduc range and obviously a winner. Historically the Moorooduc Chardonnays have often impressed more than the Pinot Noir (to my palate) so this is a massive win from what is obviously a glorious vintage in much of Victoria.
Moorooduc Estate ‘The Moorooduc’ Pinot Noir 2010 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)
A veritable classic Mornington Pinot, a quite pretty wine with gentle pippy red fruit and just a hint of pan juices. The palate has juicy redcurrant fruit and classic, soft-yet-powerful acidity. A fleshy and open wine but with both structure and delicacy. Just a beautiful, generous and not sweet Pinot of proper proportions. Bloody good. 18.7/20 95/100
Consistency. That’s what Tarrawarra has been notably good at, the wines consistently tasty and varietal. I’d still like to see more wildness though, the wines always well built, if missing a dash of x-factor.
Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 (Yarra Valley, Vic)
Quite a masculine Pinot this one, oak poking through on the nose, the palate smooth, full and powerful is a fraction brawny and drying. A Shiraz drinkers Pinot perhaps with its best days ahead of it. 17.5/20 91/100+
Buy. That is the very simple message for these Yeringberg wines, all of which show grace, delicacy. vibrancy and a wonderful soft touch.. The labelling is simple, the wines effortless… I’ve always enjoyed the Yeringberg wines and these releases are amongst the very best. I didn’t write notes about the 2011 white blend but even it looked good for the season. Did I mention buy?
Yeringberg Pinot Noir 2010 (Yarra Valley, Vic)
Smoky and duck friendly, it is quite a big wine with a slightly hammy edge, carrying all the power and weight of the warm season, yet served in a style that is quite open and unforced. Lovely. 18/20 93/100
Yeringberg Shiraz 210 (Yarra Valley, Vic)
This Pinot-esque style is my favourite form of Yarra Shiraz. Fragrant, white pepper and cranberry sort of wine with a measured palate that couples red fruit with acidity and dry, delicate tannins. Mid weight and fine, without ever looking bony. Great cool clime Shiraz. 18.5/20 94/100
Yeringberg Yeringberg 2010
Quite firm and stocky, yet also retaining that essential black leafiness too. I miss seeing leafiness in so many Cabernets and blends, the mere suggestion of herbs a no-no in the modern idiom. Beyond the herbaceous hint, this is all vibrant redcurrant fruit and in that fragrant right bank Bordeaux spicy form that makes me think there is a fair bit of Cab Franc in the blend (just 11% apparently). A beautiful, lively and perfumed, finely tannic red of fluidity and balance that is perfectly ripe at 13% alcohol. 18.8/20 95/100