Category Archives: Hunter Valley Shiraz

Feb 02 2017

2016 Wine of the Year: Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2014

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Recently wine critic Nick Stock announced his Top 100 Australian Wines for 2016 in a report for JamesSuckling.com. Describing the character of the list, Stock remarked that it “encapsulates the growing divide between the classic wines and producers and the current generation of younger makers who are redefining the notions of great Australian wine.”

Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2014, the 2016 Wine of the Year, is a wine that certainly sits in the former category. According to Stock, it’s an example of how “established producers who have custodianship of gifted terroirs are making the most of their land.”

People normally associate the Barossa and McLaren Vale in South Australia with great old vine shiraz, but the Hunter was also spared from the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out the great vineyards of Europe in the 19th century. Stock calls the Tyrrell’s 2014 Old Patch Shiraz “as unique an expression of great old vine Hunter shiraz as you will ever find.”

Stevens_Old_Patch_380_285About 10 years ago, Tyrrell’s proprietor Bruce Tyrrell set about identifying six blocks (one chardonnay, two semillon, and three shiraz) that were over 100 years old and still capable of producing exceptional fruit grown on their own roots.

The Old Patch was isolated in 2007 and is part of the famous Stevens Vineyard. Like the other “sacred sites” it has some of the rarest vines in the world. First planted in 1867, a few of the cuttings may even have their origins in the original James Busby Collection – a selection of some 433 grapevine cuttings from Europe that were originally planted in the Hunter Valley in the 1800s.

The location of the vineyard, set up against the Brokenback Mountain Range, is well protected, and the dark clay soils retain just enough moisture to sustain the vines without the need … Read the rest

Mar 03 2014

Australian Wine Icons: Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz

Posted on March 03, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Single vineyard wines have a special mystique. After all, top producers will release a single vineyard wine only because they believe the vineyard uniquely expresses the ‘terroir’; that is they are convinced that the site’s micro-climate, soil characteristics, exposure and orientation are capable of creating a wine unique in character.

First made in 1983, the Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Hunter Valley Shiraz has more than proven that the Graveyard Vineyard offers up something special. It has been described by Langton’s Andrew Caillard as the “Hunter Valley ‘s greatest red wine of the contemporary era,” and is one of only 16 wines classified as ‘Exceptional’, the top designation in the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine V.

The vineyard land was originally earmarked for the Pokolbin cemetery back in 1882 but the plans never eventuated; hence the unusual name for the vineyard. Some of the shiraz vines are descendants of colonial vine-stock, and they generally struggle to survive in the shallow top soil on red clay over loam populated with pockets of ironstone. Consequently, yields are low and the grapes have a high skin to juice ratio, creating saturated colours and intense flavours in the wine.

James Halliday, one of the founders of Brokenwood, recently said that one of the smartest decisions he made before leaving Brokenwood was to hire Ian Riggs as the winery’s first qualified winemaker in 1983. (Brokenwood celebrates a milestone by James Halliday, The Australian, 13 July 2013)

Riggs has expanded the reach of Brokenwood beyond the Hunter Valley – a strategy that has proved useful in years when Hunter Valley’s problematic weather has made it impossible to produce a wine to the standard expected of the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz. The poor 2010 vintage, for example, led to a decision to suspend production of Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz … Read the rest