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2013 Tyrrell's HVD Old Vines Chardonnay, 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.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
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
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