From the first declared vintage in 1928, our fortified wines have been Shiraz based, and the vines that produced the original vintage still provide the grapes for this wine. These old vines are stumpy, gnarled and deep rooted, distinguished by their small bunches of highly coloured and intensely flavoured grapes.
The quality was very good with fruit characters noticeably fragrant with good acidity and excellent length of flavour. The lead up to vintage was uneventful with average winter rain followed by heavy rains in spring that resulted in vines with healthy, balanced canopies.
A mild, early, summer leading into a warmer period during veraison stopped vegetative growth, channelling energy into the fruit. A prolonged cool period occurred after veraison in February with some rain which enabled the fruit to ripen without any stress. Finally the warmth returned in March with cool evening temperatures to complete ripening in almost perfect conditions enhancing fruit flavour and richness while maintaining good levels of natural acidity.
Small batches of grapes are gently crushed and then transferred to five tonne headed down open fermenters. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. The wine is then basket pressed and a small amount of fine, fortifying brandy spirit is added, ending fermentation and retaining the sweet fruit richness of the style. The Vintage Fortified does not spend any time in wood prior to bottling.
The wine opens to lush aromas of fruitcake, spice and plum pudding topped off with melted butter and brandy snaps on the side. It’s a rich and heady mix, embracing and warming, just waiting for the chill of night and an open fire. The fine, low-strength brandy spirit plays a wonderful supporting role – selected for its ‘tails’ character, all juniper berries, spice and fruit and ‘hearts’ – roses and apricots and brings warmth and richness to the wine.
The palate is dense and layered, the tannins chewy and mouth-filling interwoven with rich, ripe dark fruits – figs, plums, star anise, liquorice, cloves and candied citrus peel. There’s line and length from the acid and tannin backbone, leaving the finish long, clean and fresh. This wine will build further complexing characters as it ages and will reward extended cellaring.
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