Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Report from ... Australia's First Families of Wine - May 26, 2015

First Families by the number
Every time I get the invite to the Australian First Families of Wine, I'm always reminded of the Godfather movies and the "Five Families".  But the Australian First Families are a group of 12 families that are making wine over 16 regions and between them they have some 5000 hectares of vineyards. They span 48 generations and 1200 years of winemaking experience - pretty impressive really.

They are "The custodians of some of Australia's finest vineyards, most famous wine names and some irreplaceable history" and surely names you recognize: Brown Brothers, Campbells, D'Arenberg, De Bortoli Wines, Henschke, Howard Park, Jim Barry Wines, McWilliam's, Tahblik, Tyrrell's Wines, Wakefield and Yalumba (only Campbells was not in attendance today).

Today's tasting was structured as a speed dating event, each group had 10 minutes with each winery representative (it may have been 5 minutes, felt like it anyway) and tasted two wines, gleaning as much information as could be imparted in that short period of time.  Of the 22 wines poured here were the best of the best ...

The room set-up for the "speed dating" afternoon
The Wines ...
Jim Barry 2006 'The Armagh' Shiraz ($270)
this wine makes up less than 1% of Barry's production
gentle with blackberry and black pepper with a
back-drop of smoke (*** 1/2+)
Jim Barry 2013 'The Florita' Riesling
Clare Valley grows more Riesling than any other region in Australia
dry and fairly refreshing with lemon and hints of lime (*** 1/2+)

McWilliam's 2013 Appellation Tumbarumba Chardonnay
this is a 138 year old company
a little lemon/lime note, and hints of peach;
more delicate than the usual Aussie-Chardonnay (*** 1/2+)
Tyrrell's 2011 Vat 47 Chardonnay
made since 1971 - started vineyard on stolen cuttings
surprisingly good acidity, peach, apple, vanilla
with a long tannin-pith-like finish (*** 1/2+)
Wakefield 2012 St. Andrew's Shiraz
Jim Barry was their first winemaker
creamy and lovely mouthfeel: chocolate, touches of white pepper,
raspberry, black cherry, silky smooth long finish - stunning (**** 1/2)
Wakefield 2009 The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon ($150)
also made from fruit taken from the St. Andrew's vineyard
fruit forward with big raspberry, cassis, and blueberry
with nicely integrated oak - another silky smooth offering (****)
Yalumba 2014 Eden Valley Viognier
tropical aromas with honeydew rind,
grapefruit and pith on the finish (*** 1/2)

Yalumba 2005 FDR1A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
shows the ageability of this quinessential Aussie blend
mocha, black cherry with an mineral/stoney finish (****)
d'Arenberg 2013 The Money Spider Rousanne
fresh and cheerful with apple puree, peach, mineral and
Bosc pear skin - lovely long finish (****+)

d'Arenberg 2006 The Ironstone Pressings
70% Grenache / 25% Shiraz / 5% Mourvedre - this wine is foot-trodden
peppery and spicy with black cherry, cassis, mineral
and good acidity on the finish (****+)
De Bortoli 2011 Noble One Botrytis Semillon ($32 / 375ml)
sweet apricot and peach, honeyed tangerine, hint of floral,
thick yet unctuous this is really delicious (****)

Henschke 2012 Mount Edelstone Shiraz - 60th Anniversary Vintage ($188)
first made in 1952, vines were planted in 1912
smoky, dark fruit, cassis, black raspberry, mineral and cocoa powder
Henschke 2005 Hill of Grace
100% Shiraz - 500 cases made maximum in any vintage
an absolutely beautiful wine with black currant, strawberry
and blackberry - so much depth of flavour; stunning (**** 1/2+)
Howard Park 2014 Porongurup Riesling
dry with lime and lemon pith with hints of zest and good acidity
(*** 1/2)
Tahblik 2009 '1860 Vines' Shiraz ($164)
made from half an acre of ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines
make 100-150 dozen per year - red raspberry, white pepper,
cocoa and blueberry with a touch of floral (*** 1/2+)
Tyrrell's 2010 Vat 1 Semillon ($55)
this winery has "an obssession with Semillon"
and this wine is bottle-aged before release

honey with lime and lemon zest, hint of floral and a clean
mouthfeel and finish - only 11% alcohol (****)
The Personalities ...
Peter Barry shows off a bottle of 'The Armagh'
Scott McWilliam, Family Ambassador and Senior Winemaker,
talks Chardonnay from Tumbarumba
Alister Purbrick, from Tahbilk (left), talks old vines Shiraz,
while Zoltan Fekete, of Kylix Wines (agent) does his best
Vanna White impression
Bruce Tyrrell waxes poetic on the subject of Semillon
Justin Taylor, Company Director & Export Manager (Wakefield)
has the confidence to know he has one of the best wines in the room
Chester Osborn knows he's got a winner
on his hands with this Money Spider
Stephen Henschke preaches the gospel of family
and history that goes into every bottle

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