Category Archives: Icon Wines

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

Jul 07 2016

Powell & Son – A “Seriously Impressive” new wine label

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In her recent report on South Australian wines, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown singled out two newcomers, Powell & Son and Sons of Eden, as “seriously impressive.”

Anyone familiar with the Barossa’s fabled Torbreck Wines would have already guessed that the Powell in Powell & Son is none other than Torbreck founder Dave Powell. Dave teamed up with his 22 year old son Callum a couple of years ago to start a new small-scale eponymous wine label at the Riverside Vintners in Lyndoch.

Apparently Callum’s birth in 1994 coincided with the pressing of the first vintage of Dave’s own shiraz, so you could say that Callum was born with wine in his blood! Before starting a degree in oenology at Roseworthy, Callum had a stint working under Jean-Louis Chave in Hermitage. Dave is quick to acknowledge that his precocious son is already developing his own unique winemaking style.

But only someone of Dave’s experience and bravado would release an inaugural flagship shiraz with a sticker price of $750 a bottle! Yet the critics haven’t blinked an eye at either the price tag or the pedigree of the Powell & Son Steinert Flaxman’s Valley Shiraz. (Only 220 cases of the 2014 vintage were made.)

Steinert is indeed a very impressive vineyard. Located in Eden’s Flaxman’s Valley, the vines are more than 120 years old and cost the Powells $10,000 a tonne. Dave and Callum are relishing the opportunity to spend time together in this special vineyard, working it to perfection.

davepowell4Of the inaugural 2014 vintage, Perrotti-Brown remarked that “it’s a very pretty wine possessing a deep garnet-purple color and lifted nose of kirsch, crushed red currants and black raspberries with suggestions of wild thyme, lavender, black pepper and cloves. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm backbone of grainy … Read the rest

Jun 06 2013

Penfolds Grange 2008 and the 100 point review!

Posted on June 06, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The 2008 vintage of the iconic Penfolds Grange was anticipated with great excitement by the media and public alike. 2008 was hailed as an exceptional vintage, especially in the Barossa where 89 percent of the grapes for the 2008 Grange were sourced. But few expected the frenzy created by the 100 point review by Lisa Perrotti-Brown of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Penfolds first launched the 2008 Grange to trade and media in early March with a hefty price tag of $685, but after the Wine Advocate’s review was published in April demand for the wine soared. Subsequently, Penfolds took the controversial step of raising the price by another $100 to $785.

So why all the fuss?

Certainly, the highly respected Sydney Morning Herald Wine Critic Huon Hooke wasn’t overly impressed with the 100 point score, calling it absurd and wondering how a wine that takes at least 15 to 20 years to fully mature could be perfect now:

I say absurd, because I don’t believe in ‘perfect’ wines, or perfect scores; I have never rated any wine 100 points myself, and I simply ask what score these reviewers would give the wine when it’s fully mature and singing at its best – in about 15 to 20 years. It will be a far better wine then. It’s too young to drink now, and while it looks to have the potential to rank alongside the greatest Granges, it’s very difficult to say at this early stage just how good it will eventually be. (So how good is the latest Grange, Huon Hooke, Corkscore News, 7 May 2013)

Good point! But with respect to the Wine Advocate’s history of reviewing Penfolds Grange, the 100 point score is in fact a rarity. The first and only vintage to be rated as highly as … Read the rest