The Brown’s first Shiraz Mondeuse Cabernet Sauvignon dates back to 1954. Mondeuse is an obscure variety originating in the Savoie region of France, arriving in Australia in the 1920’s via the legendary viticulturist, Francois de Castella. The Browns habitually seek out idiosyncratic grapes and have made the triple blend a speciality that bobs up sporadically in the right season – 2013 was one such year. It combines the rich juicy red fruits of shiraz with the structure, power and dark berry fruit of cabernet sauvignon. The mondeuse acts as a moderator bringing spice, colour and tannin to the blend. Best kept for a decade, pair with a rare steak for instant gratification.
The Château Thivin cellars date back to 1383, though the Geoffray family ownership only began in 1877 when the château had a mere 2 hectares of vines. Over time, the Geoffray famille have expanded their gamay planting to 8.3 hectares now with an average age of 50 years. After traditional carbonic maceration and natural ferment, the young wine is rested in old foudres for half a year before bottling. Bright cherry and boysenberry aromas mingle with violets and wild thyme. The plate is defined by red fruits with silken tannins and a gentle acidity sustaining the finish. Best with a county terrine and crusty bread.
Adrien Roustan takes a Burgundian approach to the 4.5 hectares of vines he inherited from his grandfather with whole bunch ferments, gentle extraction and maturation (primarily) in cement. Roustan’s vineyards were certified organic in 2012. An impressive pair of Vacqueyras and Gigondas set the standard. Tire Bouchon is a refreshing entry level red, based on grenache and augmented by traditional Rhône varieties. Bright crimson in colour with lifted aromatics of raspberries and dark plums and a whiff of all-spice. The palate is nimble and unimpaired by oak with juicy red fruit flavours and gently persuasive tannins to extend the finish.
Stephanie Toole is best known for her scintillating rieslings while this charm-laden shiraz flies under the vinous radar. The Alexander Vineyard has just 1.7 hectares of shiraz, so the 2015 production was a mere 450 cases. Toole’s winemaking is subtle. The French oak (40% new) adds structure and complexity without marking the wine’s lush fruit flavours. The aromsa are of red fruits (cherries and plums) with an overlay of savoury spice and a touch of dark chocolate. The palate is vibrant, more savoury than sweet with a touch of earthy complexity adding depth to the finish.
The move to low intervention winemaking continues with this foot-stomped blend. It’s the brainchild of retailer and importer Randall Pollard (the feet were provided by Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmolzer.) A blend of 37% pinot gris, 30% riesling, 21% fiano and 12% gewürztraminer, it’s more about texture and palate than pristine aromatics. That said, the aromas are inviting – poached pear, almond skins and lemon pith. The flavours bring Nashi pear, musk, ginger and lychees into the picture with a buoyant palate and spice laden finale. The packaging is as fun and funky as the wine.
Melissa Buttery and Mike Brown have embraced organic farming and follow Rudolf Steiner’s bio-dynamic principles. However, they’ve taken the philosophy one step further with Luna Temprana, their first preservative free wine. The winemaking is (naturally) low intervention, the young tempranillo spending just 45 days in old barrels whilst undergoing secondary fermentation before bottling without filtration and the addition of sulphur dioxide. The result is a fresh, bright and juicy wine that deserves to be served cool to enhance its perfumes of wild raspberries, aniseed seeds and star anise. The flavours are equally refreshing with a subtle interplay of acid and tannin bringing energy to the finish.