Iconic wines from Australia’s first wine region, the Hunter Valley, and arguably one of its premier estates, Tyrrell’s. They are also crafted by one of the oldest continually family operated wineries in the region, and in New South Wales, with the Sacred Site range sitting atop their hierarchy of famed and loved wines.
The wine range of Tyrrell’s has changed over the decades from its eponymous Winemaker’s Selection, with the legendary Vat 1 Semillon, Vat 9 Shiraz and Vat 47 Chardonnay now joined by their legendary Sacred Site Range. These wines highlight venerable old parcels that are truly unique and treasured, akin to the finest French “Grand Crus”. The range includes two whites: ‘Johnno’s’ Semillon and ‘HVD’ Chardonnay, and four shiraz: ‘4 Acres’, ‘8 Acres’, ‘Johnno’s’ and ‘Old Patch’.
The release of yet another superb vintage, 2019, follows two blindingly great vintages in 2018 and 2017. One could almost feel a little fatigue in the pursuit of greater adjectives to describe yet another vintage of such proportion. Nonetheless, this is all about the 2019 reds. Usually the 2020 whites would be released alongside the reds, however the tragedy of the bush fires ruled this out.
Usually released to Tyrrell’s members and then to the wine trade, these wines are produced in small proportions and are highly sought after both locally and abroad, generally to much international and local acclaim by critics and consumers alike. Individually each wine by itself would be considered a coup for a winery, but to have all 6?
The common feature with the reds in focus here is identical winemaking, but for the use of oak. Here we are not referring to small barriques but large 2400 L oak casks of varying age. The Johnno’s see the new cask first. The Old Patch will see this cask in the subsequent usage with the 4 Acres seeing that cask in its third use. Because these casks are so large, there is never a risk with these wines, even with the Johnno’s seeing the cask in its first use, that oak will ever becomes a dominant feature.
Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz 2019
When you visit the cellar door, as you drive in, on the right of the driveway lay these 4 Acres laying claim as the oldest block of shiraz on the property. The vines are gnarly and low to the ground with lots of space around them, and with the turned red earth there is no doubt that these vines have worked hard. This wine is generally the most fragrant of the pack with a structure that is almost pinot noir like, although still unmistakably shiraz. The classic ‘Hunter River Burgundy’ with impeccable tannins intertwined with spectacular red berried fruit flavours and length for ages.
The 2019 is all these things, with impeccable balance, fine length plus a harmony and balance of flavours that is unmistakably 4 Acres. Wild raspberries, red cherries and plum are all wonderfully ripe with a hint of pastille and then the floral notes, violets and roses are wonderful additions to that fruit complexity. The wine has typical notes of pepper, with subtle notes of cardamon and clove. The palate is wonderfully Hunter. It is medium bodied, with moderate alcohol level; the flavour on the palate is complex and refined with that perfume, spice and fruit providing for a superb peacock-tail like finish. A decade or two in the cellar would be easy with the wine if it can possibly last that long as it is so bloody delicious.
Tyrrell’s Johnno’s Shiraz 2019
The youngest parcel of Shiraz vines here in the group, only dating back to 1908, are otherwise planted on soils better assumed to suit Semillon in the region. This vineyard produces a unique wine where acidity is a little more elevated, even in the heat of the Hunter, enhancing the vibrancy of fruit supporting a touch more oak influence.
The 2019 shows more notes of fresh but ripe blackberries, raspberries and cherries. There is more spice from pepper, cardamon, clove and cinnamon with a hint of black olive and then a fine line of subtle rose and tulip. The palate once again is a tour de force in a medium frame, with restrained alcohol and no hint of heat, with a greater line of fine tannin and balanced acidity. Again, this wine would cellar easily, and arguably for a longer period, again the caveat of it lasting long enough given its tiny scale of production. A stunner.
Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2019
One can imagine that with the length of time that the family has been in the region, now five generations, that a little bit of knowledge would pass down the lineage. That those sites which have consistently produced wonderful wines would be acknowledged whether it was theirs or anyone else’s. So, when the opportunity to purchase this vineyard arose in 2017, including the venerable ‘old patch’, it was snapped up. It proved a masterstroke as the wine has now consistently received much acclaim in the last few years from many scribes worldwide with the ‘evidence in the glass’ once again showing its wares.
The iconic ‘Old Patch’ is densely concentrated in flavour whilst also medium bodied with restrained alcohol, elevated acidity in the context of the region and the variety. Code for lively and fresh yet not hot or spicy. The 2019 has an intensity of fresh black fruit flavours; blackberry, mulberry, black cherries and an almost sarsaparilla like sweet earth, fruit drive and spice that is the epitome of balance, flavour and elegance. Tannins just melt seamlessly into the wine. Beautiful.
Join the winery mailing list here.