Aussie Wine Icons: Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck
In The Australian Encyclopedia of Wine, James Halliday recounts a funny story about how the Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck came into being. In 1994, a forgotten block of shiraz in David and Diana Anderson’s ‘original vineyard’, planted in 1988, became super-ripe, was picked as an after-thought and irreverently labelled Duck’s Muck in the winery (David’s nickname is Duck). To their surprise and embarrassment (because of the name!), Duck Muck was blessed by influential American wine critic Robert Parker Jr and became an icon wine.
While serendipity definitely played a role in the creation of this opulent wine from Heathcote, Victoria, ensuring its future success has become a real art form. Special growing conditions are necessary to produce grapes with high sugar concentrations but also with enough acidity to give structure and balance to the powerful and concentrated fruit. David told wine critic Steve Burnham that “We are picking the fruit at well over 15 or 16 per cent and beyond alcohol, or sugar, content. But with an acid as if it were 12 (per cent alcohol/sugar level)…Most people that try to make big wines end up with something a bit flabby. No acid left, and you wouldn’t want to drink it.”
Today, David works with his son Liam, and is in the process of converting the vineyards to biodynamic. The grapes for the Duck Muck are hand-harvested over a six to eight week period to ensure that they are only picked at optimum ripeness. The wine is vinified in open fermenters and regularly hand plunged. A home-made hydraulic basket press is used to press the wine before it is matured in 50% French and 50% new American oak hogsheads for 25 months. Langton’s Andrew Caillard MW notes that “Interestingly and almost impossibly, some of Anderson’s wines are made without any sulphur addition whatsoever.”
David quips “That if I can see my fingers through the wine, I’ve done something wrong!” Duck Muck was result of his attempt to make one of the “biggest” wines he possibly could. “And I don’t just mean a thickness or alcoholically big; it’s also big in flavour,” he says. “It’s just my style really. I don’t like wasting my time drinking wimpy wines, something that doesn’t sit well on your palate, that doesn’t last very long. It seems to be a total waste of time doing that. I mean, why bother to pull the cork on something that isn’t good?” (Steve Burnham Editorial Enterprises)
After Parker gave the 1997 Duck Muck 99 out of 100 in his quarterly publication The Wine Advocate, prices for Duck Muck on the secondary market skyrocketed. But for those lucky enough to get on the winery’s mail list, the release prices for all of Wild Duck Creek Estate’s wines are relatively modest and if you’re lucky, David may even deliver the wine himself!
Photo Credit: Wild Duck Creek by Nicole Murphy, Bendigo Weekly