Tag: Nick Stock

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

Apr 04 2011

Shaw + Smith Shiraz: Refined Elegance in A Bottle

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

South Austalia, and especially the Barossa Valley, is typically associated with big, ripe, full-bodied shiraz. Many examples of this style have won critical acclaim from esteemed American critics like Robert Parker, partly because they typified a unique Australian take on the Rhône varietal.

But winemakers are by and large a very creative, innovative bunch who don’t like to be boxed in by stereotypes. While many South Australian wineries are still making fine shiraz in a big, bold style, the trend is definitely towards a more elegant and approachable style. In fact, Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator notes in his article, Renewed Allure: With ever more distinctive styles arriving on U.S. shores talk of Australia’s flagging appeal doesn’t compute, that “about half the Shirazes in the [Wine Spectator’s] 90-plus range come from somewhere other than Barossa, and even the Barossa wines show more elegance than generally ascribed to that warm area.” (Wine Spectator 31 July 2010).

The Adelaide Hills Shaw + Smith, founded by cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith in 1989, has consistently demonstrated the ability of this cool climate region to create wines of distinction.

Hill Smith credits Brian Croser for discovering the wine-growing potential of Adelaide Hills. “Brian Croser was the person who had the vision for the Adelaide Hills, and a lot us have followed that vision,” he told the Wine Spectator’s Jennie Cho Lee back in 2002, “Now the top Sauvignon Blancs and top Chardonnays come from this region.” (A Turn Toward Refined Elegance: Vitners in South Australia are pioneering a new style of Wine, 15 May 2002).

Since that time the Shaw + Smith winery has also created an award winning elegant, spicy shiraz to share the stage with its top-rated sauvignon blanc and M3 Chardonnay. The 2007 Shaw Read the rest

Mar 03 2011

New Generation of Spanish Winemakers Create Renewed Interest in Tempranillo

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Saturday, I attended a Sydney Morning Herald’s Growers’ Market NSW Wine Festival tasting hosted by Huon Hooke and Nick Stock. I was impressed with the tempranillo wines on offer, especially the Audrey Wilkinson Tempranillo Hunter Vallery 2009.

Hooke was asked why we are only just starting to see tempranillo being made by a significant number of wineries in Australia. He said that, unlike other parts of the world, Australia has experienced relatively low Spanish migration. Consequently, in contrast to French and most Italian varieties, which are well-known to Australian winemakers, wineries have only recently become aware of the potential of this noble grape of Spain.

As with anything wine-related, the reasons for Australia’s only recent discovery of tempranillo are a bit more complicated. While Spain is one of the oldest and the largest wine-producing countries in the world, the story of modern Spanish wine at least is very young indeed.  As Lettie Teague notes in her book Educating Peter, “So much is happening in Spain – new wines being made, new wineries being built, old regions revitalised, and old vineyards rediscovered. And most of these changes have taken place in a short time – mostly in the past decade or so.” For many consumers, winemakers and critics alike Spain is a relatively recent focal point on the world-wine map. (Educating Peter by Lettie Teague, New York: Scribner 2008)

Indeed, the first vintage of the most expensive wine in Spain, a tempranillo from the rapidly growing Ribera Del Duoro region, was made by a Dane, Peter Sisseck, in 1995. His acclaimed Pingus was considered a revelation at the time of its release. Made from low yielding vines of at least 65 years of age, this fruit forward tannic wine was aged in new French barriques for only … 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

Nov 11 2010

Terroir: What does it mean and how is best expressed?

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

On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald/Age inaugural Good Wine Guide’s Winery of the Year was awarded to Henschke, the South Australian winery internationally renowned for its single vineyard Hill of Grace Shiraz. Henschke first produced Hill of Grace in 1958, and the wine is one of Australia’s earliest examples of a single-vineyard wine. Today Hill of Grace has distinguished company in the single-vineyard category. Two thirds of the 94 wines in the Good Food Wine Guide’s highest “three glass”  category are single-vineyard wines. (Singled out for greatness by Helen Pitt, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November 2010)

Wine critic and Good Wine Guide author Nick Stock argues that “we need to be championing wines that have a strong sense of place – what the French call terroir.” The prevalence of so many single vineyard wines in the top ranking suggests that winemakers are moving in that direction, but what exactly does terroir mean and how is it best expressed?

Jay McInerney recently wrote a very interesting article about Nicolas Joly, the proprietor of Coulée de Serrant, which is a domain in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley making world-class Savenièrres. In 2000  Joly founded Return to Terroir and is a leading champion for biodynamic viticulture. (Mr. Joly’s Particularly Pure Terroir by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 14 October 2010)

Joly is also a “fierce defender” of the French appellation contrôllée system, which came into being in the 1930s and codified years of regional practice based on the idea that wines should uniquely reflect their terroir or place of origin. Essentially, it restricts the planting of certain varieties to specific regions. The white grape Chenin Blanc, for example, is only planted in the Loire Valley where it is deemed best suited.

Australian winemakers face no such restrictions … Read the rest