The Hunter Valley has been blessed with three outstanding vintages in a row (2017 – 2019). Having lived and worked through (thankfully) not too many, but a few terrible red vintages in my time here (think 2008 and 2012), I have taken the approach that we should “make hay while the sun shines”, and look to purchase some extra fruit from high quality vineyards in the great years so that we have some reserve stock on hand in the event of a season that did not quite deliver on expectations.
Just prior to the 2019 vintage I was fortunate to secure two small parcels of fruit from two great vineyards, Herlestone and Wills Hill. With the season already potentially shaping up to be another ripper, I of course jumped at the opportunity.
From a winemaker’s point of view, there’s an excitement delving into the unknown, making wine from a vineyard with which you have no personal or intimate history, but the potential is intoxicating. Will they be good enough to bottle as a single vineyard Hunter Shiraz? Where will they sit in terms of our existing range?
These vineyards did not disappoint.
At the end of the day we bottled each as a single vineyard wine, however they did not quite fit in terms of stylistic diversity within our existing range of 2019 single vineyard Shiraz, so chose to hold them for a future release. With an extra 12 months bottle age these two wines are looking right in that sweet spot and ready to go.
Stylistically, both these wines sit somewhere between our Déjà vu Shiraz and Sweetwater, in terms of their weight. Typical of all our 2019 vintage releases, these wines are ripe, yet have a slightly more gentle structure than the more muscular 2017 and 2018 vintage wines.
Here’s a snapshot of both wines, the tasting notes delivered by my partner Kim Bickley, who during her career as a sommelier has certainly developed a nice way with words….
Planted in 1968, the Herlestone vineyard was the core source of some of the best Rothbury Estate Shiraz releases during the late 70’s early 80’s under the tenure of the late great Len Evans. Planted on red basalt soil, this block is situated adjacent to Mount Pleasant’s Rosehill vineyard on the eastern side of Wine Country Drive in Pokolbin with a sharp south east facing aspect, essentially protecting the vines from the harsh afternoon sun.
Hand-picked on 13th February 2019, the wine was destemmed but not crushed in an attempt to liberate the bright red fruit characters during fermentation, without too much tannin extraction. Maturation in third and fourth use French oak hogsheads has paid respect to the fruit. 275 dozen bottled
“Bright medium ruby colour, expressive nose of black and blue fruits, exotic spices, espresso, hazelnut and hints of tea-smoke. The palate is classically medium bodied and flavoursome with a seductively silky with fine grain tannin structure around a core of fresh blueberries, red plum and mulberry fruit. There’s flavours of Christmas spices, gingerbread, mocha and fresh black pepper. This is a youthful and vibrant wine with intensity of flavour and harmonious structure, it is long and layered and will continue to develop complexities for years to come.”
Originally planted by Joe Lesnik on his Black Creek property, the Wills Hill vineyard is situated opposite the intersection of Wine Country Drive and Broke Road, in Pokolbin. This gently sloping block sits on red basalt soil, yet naturally yields a relatively small crop contributing to its internal concentration and structural complexity.
Machine harvested during the cool night hours of 14th February, this wine was handled a little more aggressively than the Herlestone Shiraz during fermentation, revealing a slightly deeper core of fruit weight and tannins. Some newer French oak maturation resulted in three hogsheads finding their way into our 2019 Elenay Shiraz barrel select blend. 295 dozen bottled
“Bright medium ruby colour and an intricate nose filled with hints of black fruits, exotic spices and deluxe oak. There’s an elaborate palate of juicy blackberry, dark plum and black cherry fruit alongside hints of liquorice, fresh coffee, black pepper and cinnamon. The wine is fleshy and silky with a fine-grained tannin structure, and excellent length of palate. Delicious to drink now but will cellar beautifully.”
These two 2019 Individual Vineyard Shiraz will be available via our website and Cellar Door from Saturday 14 May, 2022.