(2021) From very old vines planted in 1969 and silty loam soils, this wine from Yarra Yering spent 15 months in French oak barriques, 40% new. Such a different character from the Balvanes - indeed from both Coonawarra wines - with a cooler, slightly more red-fruited note to the nose, more lifted fragrance too with garrigue-like notes utterly compelling. In the mouth it is voluptuous and svelte, yet continues that medium-bodied, finessed style, all about ripe but charming, savoury edged fruit with a little citrussy spark to it, sweet and fine tannins and beautifully integrated oak and acidity. Gorgeous. Price and stockist quoted are for a more recent vintage at time of review.
(2021) From sandy clay-loam soils and again very old vines planted in 1971, these are farmed organically and the wine spent 20 months in 225L barriques, 35% new oak. There's a creamier, mintier profile than the Yarra Yering, slightly more lush and juicy, some very nice graphite notes and a little hint of that violetty, floral lift again. Certainly more sweet, dense and direct than the Yarra Yering, but not without light and shade, a lovely softness and poise to the tannin structure that it gentle but supportive. The acids also soft giving this a sweet but balanced finish.
(2017) Last vintage made before Guill pulled the original Shiraz out. Big, rather animal nose, the fruit dense beneath. The fruit on the palate has a chocolate richness still, a fine and dense plum flesh and great sweetness, silky and smooth, with a meaty richness. A lovely old wine once past that slightly animal (bretty?) nose.
(2017) Beautiful nose, from a field blend Guill planted to exactly the same proportions of his favourite wine, Haut-Brion. Such a superbly elegant nose, with graphite and tobacco, 22 months in oak, up to 40% new, giving a hint of vanilla, and the fruit so intense yet elegantly lifted and ripe. Creamy and so refined on the palate, it has terrific fruit elegance, so fine, touched with delicate floral and kirsch-like touches, and rounding into a sweet finish, so subtly supported by the structure. Just superb and built to last.
(2017) Just a touch of game, the pure, essential black fruit giving way just very slightly to those tertiary aromas and flavours, but tight as a drum. There's a floral and kirsch purity to the fruit, a rich fleshy quality, still glossy, but the structure is fine, firm and will need time as this is only just loosening up.
(2017) Browning rim. Gamy on the nose, lots of developed aroma, lots of smokiness and fudge, a bit of leather and truffle, some barnyardy character but the whole picture complex and layered. The palate is still plush and glossy with fruit purity, a hint of currant, but more about plump and still juicy and youthful blackberry, then the spice and the sweetness goes on.
(2017) A much bigger, mintier nose, with touches of eucalyptus and chocolate, then plenty of fudge and tight, grippy black fruit. The grip of fruit skins and tightness on the palate, more old school in a way, but does not suffer from that - a terrific wine. Price quoted is approximate at time of writing.
(2014) Small open-top fermenters were used again, with some whole bunches, and 3-4 days of cold soaking. The wine was pressed into tight-grained 500-litre French oak. A touch of mint and a touch of earthy, truffly complexity - though no shortage of tightly-wound, spicy and ripe black fruit. Really tight and a touch ungiving at present, but that is the joy of a wine that will blossom in another four or five years: already there is gorgeous purity to fruit, with creamy tannins and oak in the background and such a lovely balancing acidity. Terrific potential here to score a point or two more than my current
(2014) A near identical winemaking for this block, with only a slightly longer fermentation (14 days as opposed to 10) before ageing in 500-litre French oak. It is quite different from Block 1, with a subtly spicy and exotic nose, a pure cherry and red liquorice lift and freshness to the aromas. Superb palate, with a touch of nuttiness and firm, endive-like bittersweetness. There's a chocolaty richness underpinning this cuvée, it is more approachable than Block 1 at this stage for sure, but the tightness, firmness and balance of the finish says it is a wine that also needs time and is, again, quite superb.