I first met James Manners back in 2010 when he was a winemaker at Robert Oatley. At the time he was very proud to show off his latest Mudgee releases (including a very handy little Chardonnay project), though that was within the confines of the Oatley range.
Since then James has strung out on his own (or with Union Bank part-owner Nick Bacon more correctly), with this ‘Manners’ label the top of his ‘Well Mannered Wines’ tree. Like many Mudgee producers, he has ventured to somewhere a little easier to grow grapes (sorry Mudgee) as a fruit source, heading south to the Hilltops for this wine.
He’s come up with a winner here too.
Boysenberry purple black in colour, there is a wonderful smudge of black earth here that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mudgee red. Palate is mid-weight, and full of choc-cherry fruit, drying black tea tannin and sweet vanilla bean oak. The contrast between vanillin oak sweetness/black cherry fruit and the grippy tannins give this plenty of appeal, if still a little gruff and earthen to be seductive.
I gave this the ultimate test and put some in the thermos for Saturday night’s Swans vs Hawks game at the MCG. It passed with flying colours. Extra points for thermos love.
Tasted: July 2014
Score: 18.1/20, 93/100+
Would I buy it? Yes. But I wouldn’t drink it until next year.
Buy online: Well Mannered website