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2011 Tyrrell's Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut, 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.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.
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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