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2014 Tyrrell's Old Patch 1867 Shiraz, Hunter Valley
A pioneer of the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest viticultural area, Tyrrell’s wines, a by-word for the highest quality and age worthy Semillon. Today Tyrrell’s still sets the benchmark for this region, producing not just Semillons, but Chardonnays and Shirazes that are amongst the best if not the finest in the Hunter when their vineyards and the vintage align. Focus at Tyrrell’s has returned to producing middle range to premium wines and the increased emphasis on quality is evident in their recent releases. The quality across the board is very high, from the flagship Vat 1 Semillon to the depth and complexity present in the 100+ year old vines of the “Sacred sites” wines.
Sacred sites- The single vineyard concept has now been taken to another level as Tyrrells’ wines realised that they had certain vineyard blocks that were over 100 years old still producing and growing on their own roots. These represent some of the rarest vines in the world and most probably have their origins in the “Busby Collection”, a selection of grapevine cuttings from Europe that were originally planted in the Hunter Valley in the 1800s.
Winemaker’s selection - Each wine follows a Vat numbering system, stemming from the still present large oak maturation vessels used by the Tyrrell's forebears. The Vat number represents the cask in which the wine was either fermented or matured. The wines within this range all originate from our finest and oldest vineyards around our historic Pokolbin winery in the Hunter Valley.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
The 3,000-hectare Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest viticultural area. Located inland from Newcastle in New South Wales, bordering Mudgee to the west, the region was built not on gold but coal in the late 18th century; the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association (HVVA) was founded in 1847. Depression followed until the red wine boom of the 1960s and 1970s, even if it was Murray Tyrrell’s Chardonnay wines that proved the most successful.
The region’s loamy vineyards are located at between 100 and 240 metres above sea level. The warm to hot sub-humid climate makes rot an issue. Sémillon (often at circa 11 percent ABV) and Shiraz are favoured. The finest Sémillon should have an almost limey, hay-like purity.
Recommended producers: Brokenwood, Tyrrell’s and Molly Morgan