I am very pleased to announce the latest partnership in our direct import program: Dalwhinnie Estate. Situated high in the Pyrenees region of Victoria, Australia, this estate is well know for producing some of the finest Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in country. I had previously encountered the wines while working in London, but they have suffered a prolonged absence from the US market, until now!
Dalwhinnie has consistently proven to produce wines of majestic power, exquisite depth and profound complexity. Their wines have a very good track record for mid to long term cellaring. All of these attributes have garnered them huge scores and critical acclaim from the world’s top wine writers with multiple 95-97+ point scores. Their production is quite small; especially the single block bottlings, and we have taken our full allocation of these wines so don't miss out.
Dalwhinnie’s estate is a unique parcel of land in the small, remote sub-region of the Pyrenees. Growing at around 2000ft in elevation, Dalwhinnie’s beautiful 18 hectares of vines inhabit an amphitheatre like bowl between mountain peaks. These vines planted back in 1976 grow in very hard and hungry soils with lots of exposed rock and gravel left from alluvial mining in the early 1800’s. The poor soils provide naturally low yields and excellent concentration of flavor and powerful structure. Due to the high elevation, big diurnal swings in temperature helps retain a fantastic brightness and freshness in the wines despite thier richness and intensity.
Most of the estate is planted to Shiraz (Dalwhinnie’s focus), yet exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay is also produced. After taking over from his father in 1983, winemaker and co-owner, David Jones has brought great consistency and a steady hand to the property. His focus is undeniably in the vineyard believing heavily in the importance of careful pruning, vine management and natural balance. Within the cellar he simply teases out the innate quality of the grapes and their encapsulated terroir. The winemaking is refined and elegant. The resulting wines are pure and gracefully powerful.
2010 provided superlative growing conditions especially for red wines in much of South Australia and Victoria was no exception. It is very fortuitous perhaps that our new relationship with Dalwhinnie just so happened to coincide with such a momentous vintage. The 2011 vintage was very cool and resulted in exceptional white wines for careful producers. Below are some of my notes on each wine as well as some points and tasting notes from James Halliday and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
From the very cool 2011 vintage this wine has great drive and focus. Delicious crunchy orchard fruit, fresh grains, toast, malt. Good flinty mineral tones. Bright but finely balanced acidity. Exceptional persistence on the palate.
James Halliday: 95 points "David Jones has long been the leader of chardonnay in the Pyrenees, and this rendition is full of energy and life; the bouquet reveals lemon pith, smoky oak and struck quartz; the palate is racy and taut, with the acidity and the strong mineral personality working seamlessly to a long and even conclusion."
This wine has a lifted nose of Black Currant, Cassis, crushed mint and graphite. On the palate it is richly textured, powerful and juicy. Lovely balance between fruit and structure with ample ultra-fine tannins providing good persistence and long cellaring potential. Approachable now or hold until 2022.
James Halliday: 95 points "Classic Dalwhinnie style with abundant aromas, fruit on the fore-palate likewise; tightens up on the finish with tannin grip that will relax as the years go by."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 92+ points "Deep garnet-purple colored, offers a nose of cassis, wild blueberries, toasty oak and yeast extract with subtle suggestions of pencil lead and chocolate. Full-bodied with a nice backbone of medium to firm, grainy tannins and very crisp acidity, it has a long savory finish. Delicious in this youthful stage, it should develop gracefully and drink to 2022+."
Combination of many different top parcels across the estate. This Shiraz shows deep, saturated, dark red fruits, baking spice, vanilla and clove. Medium to full bodied, long, structured, elegant yet intense. Great already but will hold until 2020+.
James Halliday: 96 points "Typical deep crimson-purple; intense dark berry fruit aromas join with quality French oak on the bouquet, the svelte palate adding perfectly balanced and integrated tannins; top class finish and aftertaste; purity and power."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 94 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, scented of blackberries, creme de cassis, cedar and black pepper plus touches of dried herbs, violets and licorice. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of mouth-filling black berry and spice flavors, it has got a solid foundation of medium to firm grainy tannins and enlivening acidity, finishing long with some vanilla and cedar notes coming through. Drink this one now to 2020+."
This is a single block selection from a portion of the vineyard with particularly rocky soil and exposed boulders from old mining exploits. Singled out for it's unique character, this is seriously dark and brooding Shiraz. Medium bodied and concentrated yet pure and fresh; ripe but not the slightest bit jammy. Long silky but considerable tannin structure provides great cellaring potential. Now-2023+
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 95 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, an intense, complex nose of ripe black cherries, black raspberries and roses with underlying hints of toast, nuts, baking spices and smoked meat. Medium-bodied with amazing intensity and tension in the mouth, it has a medium to firm level of grainy tannins, very crisp acid and a long finish. Made for the long haul, consider holding onto it for a year or two and drink 2014 to 2024+."
The highest and steepest parcel on the estate. Immense power and intensity. The most muscular and saturated of the Dalwhinnie wines. Black fruit with some savory meaty elements. Bitter-sweet chocolate and all spice. Mouthcoating but not overextracted or sweet in anyway. Lovely freshness and purity for such a concentrated wine.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 97+ points "Very deep purple-black colored, aromas of creme de cassis, violets, bruchetta, yeast extract and roasted nuts with whiffs of mocha, menthol, potpourri, aniseed and cloves. Medium to full-bodied and packed with taut, muscular black berry and savory flavor layers, it has a firm structure of grainy tannins and lively acid, finishing very long. Consider drinking it 2014 to 2025+."
- Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist
Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!