Category Archives: Australian Tempranillo

Nov 11 2015

Masterclass: Billy Button and Mayford Wines – Putting the Alpine Valleys Region on the Map

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Two very talented winemakers, Jo Marsh of Billy Button and Eleana Anderson of Mayford, are neighbours and good friends in the beautiful Alpine Valleys wine region, an area that covers the foothills of the Victorian alps and borders with King Valley to the west and Beechworth to the north. Last week the pair shared the stage at a very interesting masterclass at Different Drop in Pyrmont.

We were welcomed with a glass of the 2015 Billy Button ‘The Torment’ Riesling (King Valley) on arrival. This is the only wine from Jo’s extensive range made with fruit not sourced from the Alpine Valleys.

Jo MarshJo said that she couldn’t resist the opportunity to put her own stamp on one of her favourite varieties when offered a parcel of grapes from an excellent well-established vineyard in King Valley’s Whitlands.

Fermented with indigenous yeasts, the juice was given time on full solids to add texture and flinty, savoury notes to the wine. But the fuller bodied style didn’t detract from the pristine citrus flavoured fruit, which was buoyed by a laser-like acidity. An unusual style of riesling and one of my favourite wines of the night.

Another highlight was the 2015 Billy Button ‘The Feisty’ Friulano.  Jo explained that she first came across friulano, a grape that originates from the Friuli-Venezie-Giulia region of North-East Italy, when she took up the position of Head winemaker at Feathertop, one of the Alpine Valleys oldest wineries. (Jo was previously head winemaker at Seppelt.)

 

Billy Button range

‘The Feisty’ Friulano is made in a style which also lends texture and complexity to a very fruity variety. Approximately two-thirds of the wine, for example, was barrel fermented in old French oak. When the 2014 inaugural vintage of this wine was released it attracted a number of standout reviews.… Read the rest

Mar 03 2012

Australian Tempranillo: Standing Tall Against top Spanish Expressions of the Variety

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the delights of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Wine Masterclass Fire in the Belly was the opportunity to compare some of the finest examples of Spanish tempranillo with their Australian counterparts.

Peter Leske of La Linea was on the panel, and I couldn’t help wondering how he felt to have his Norteño Tempranillo 2010 compared to Spanish greats like Vega Sicilia’s Pintia 2006 and the Telmo Rodriguez Matallana 2006, for example.

Vega Sicilia, of course, holds the mantle as Spain’s most prestigious producer. Its flagship cuvee, the Único, a Ribera del Duero tempranillo, is widely regarded as one of the world’s best wines. The Pintia is from a more recently established bodega in Toro. It had all the hallmarks of great tempranillo – earthy aromas, spicy, dark fruit and chocolate flavours with subtle touches of vanilla and cedar, velvety tannins and a deliciously long finish. The exquisitely aromatic Telmo Rodriguez Matallana from Ribero del Duero slowly revealed its deep layers of flavours, which were supported by ripe, firm tannins.

But what about the Australian examples? Even though the Australian wines on show were disadvantaged by being younger in vintage than their Spanish rivals, they displayed the confidence and finesse that Australia’s talented winemakers are bringing to this revered Spanish variety.

The Mayford Tempranillo 2010, from a small, family-run winery in Porepunkah Victoria that is high above the Ovens River, was one of the highlights. Like the Matallana, it is fermented with natural yeasts – a practice that many Australian winemakers are embracing as it helps to impart the sense or place or terroir in the wine. With perfumes of black cherry, earth and spice and velvety, fine grained tannins, it was a beautifully balanced wine displaying gorgeously pure fruit flavours. Incidentally, Campbell Mattinson of … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Australian Tempranillo: Coming into its Own!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

My husband had the good fortune to attend the NSW Wine Awards Dinner at Guillaume at Bennelong in October. He came back raving about the Mount Majura Vineyard 2009 Tempranillo (Canberra District), which was among the top 40 best wines of the show.

Mount Majura produced its first vintage of tempranillo in 2003. Since then the wine has garnered so much acclaim that it has become the flagship variety of the winery!

Mount Majura’s Viticulturist and Winemaker Frank van de Loo very much believes that great wine is made in the vineyard, and the volcanic soils on limestone at Mount Majura are in fact quite similar to Artadi’s acclaimed Vina El Pison vineyard, which makes one of the most celebrated Rioja tempranillo wines in Spain.

The Canberra district is in many regards also climatically similar to Rioja and Ribero del Duero, where Spain’s finest tempranillos are made. As British wine critic Oz Clarke observes, “To get elegance and acidity of of Temparnillo, you need a cool climate. But to get high sugar levels and the thick skins that give deep colour you need heat.” Canberra delivers both in spades! (Experimental Grape Varieties in Australia, The Vintage School 2.4, Vintage Direct)

According to The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown, “the best young Tempranillos typically reveal plum, black cherry and blackberry flavours complemented by pepper and spices plus a uniquely earthy/savoury character that is not so dissimilar to great Pinot Noir.  The finest examples can age for twenty years or more.” (Tempranillo Temptations in Asia, eRobertParker.com, May 2009)

Her description of the best young tempranillos sounds remarkably similar to Nick Stock’s recent review of the Mount Majura Tempranillo 2009. “Smells of dark cherry, cassis and brambly berries and baking spices – this is one fine Tempranillo from the Canberra District. … Read the rest