Here’s another new name to add to the list.
Livewire is the label of Anthony Brain, a former chef who has spent time as winemaker for Bellarine Estate and De Bortoli (amongst others). Ant’s been focused on the Livewire label since 2013, sourcing fruit from Heathcote, the Yarra and beyond.
Seems a nice guy too, going to the trouble of writing out winemaking notes for all these wines on an iphone after his laptop died – technology is a bitch sometimes.
The only challenge with this lineup is that most are still very youthful. 6-12 months would be more than welcome for every wine in this lineup.
Also a note about value – considering the style and quality these wines are more than fairly priced. Dive in.
I’ve included some of Ant’s quotes in italics.
Livewire Whole Bunch Love Grampians Shiraz 2015
Sourced from the 26yo Rice vineyard near Stawell. 100% whole bunch fermentation, foot treading, old oak maturation and just a little pre-bottling sulphur.
Bright purple, and looks so bright for 100% whole bunch! It smells juicy, with black and red berry fruit that slowly builds, the acidity in check, the tannins fine. A real feeling of everything in the right place, the bunchy character just a backdrop to the berry fruit. A real slow burner, though, and looked at its best on day two. A really clever, mid-weight Grampians Shiraz with that classic core of flavour yet with tannins and composure. Real good now, even better later. Best drinking: 2018-2028+. 18/20, 93/100+. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? I’d drink most of a bottle.
Livewire Geelong Sauvignon 2015
‘Picked reasonably early, I aim to de-tune savvy B and make a wine I would enjoy drinking! Looking for soft texture and interest.’
Note the lack of Blanc on the label here. Detuned indeed! Sourced from the Strathmore Vineyard in the Moorabool Valley. Fruit gets 6hrs skin contact and pressed to a tank for overnight settling (‘no enzymes, they are the devil’s work’). Barrel fermented and spends 8 months in older oak with half the blend going through MLF.
Green straw. Cool, restrained, barrel fermented nose in a Sancerre rather than Marlborough style. Lovely textural palate, with green melon, some creamy lees and barrel characters to soften it out, a decent Sauv tang and then that stony, Sancerre-esque back end and crisp finish. Clever wine. No heavyweight in the intensity stakes, but such a tasty form and v.good value. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.2%, $25. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Livewire Geelong Pinot Noir 2015
‘I have hounded Rob Bennett of Grassy Point Vineyard for 4 years for fruit. Finally, he relented with some extra. I have admired this fruit for years, always nice looking, and wonderfully vibrant in flavour. Some really good wines have come from here over the years.’
Handpicked, 40% whole bunches in the wild ferment. 24 days on skins. 10 months in 25% new French hogsheads.
Mid ruby; shows some stems on the nose with a light herbal edge. Despite the low alcohol this has presence; strawberry creams and then surprisingly chewy tannins. Not unsubstantial, despite the low alcohol style. Has excellent buzzy acidity. Good, clear and lively. Will be really smart with another 6 months in bottle, and you can see what Ant calls the ‘translucent expression’ in this wine, even though it errs on the herbal side. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 12.6%, $32. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass or so. More later.
Livewire Blood of Hipsters 2 Sangiovese Shiraz 2015
Blend of Sangiovese (64%) and Shiraz (36%) from the Timmering Vineyard in Heathcote. Ruby red, the nose has that proper Sangiovese hint of bark alongside lots of cherry fruit. Light and juicy palate is all about pure fruit with a flash of vanilla and a slightly sweet and sour finish. Mighty approachable and has a real Sangio vibe about. Fun jovial drinker but with more layers than that. Will benefit with more time in bottle too. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.2% $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
Livewire Jolt Pinot Noir 2015
A blend of Moorabool Valley and Bellarine Peninsula fruit. ‘A good mix of Moorabool for power and tannin and some prettiness and slinky softness from the Bellarine.’
Light to mid ruby, Tomato leaf and red cherry with a little mulch. Initial juicy raspberry gives way to a crunchy palate offset by more soft red berry fruit. Light, acid shaped but has freshness and bright fruit. Good, simple glugging Pinot. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $22. Would I buy it? I’d spend the money on the Livewire Pinot.
Livewire Blood of Hipsters Tempranillo Shiraz 2015
73% Tempranillo and 27% Shiraz from Heathcote built in a Joven style. Deep ruby, the nose carries red berry and some coffee beans, before a slightly spiritzy, light palate. Fun and varietal, complete with blood plum Shiraz fruit. but too short and a bit prickly to be great. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16/20, 87/100. 13.4%, $24. Would I buy it? Not quite.