We visited Tarrahill’s opening weekend the other week, and chatted through each of their new releases with Jonathan Hamer and Geoff Fethers of Tarrahill. As well as being great hosts, I was impressed with the quality of Tarrahill’s new releases.
The Tarrahill vineyard is 16 acres in size, the grapes are handpicked and the wines made on site. No insecticides or herbicides are used. The vineyard is planted to shiraz and cabernet (1990), pinot noir (MV6) and chardonnay (Mendoza clone). The D5V12 has been let go (“not so good for table wines”) and, off trend, there are more recent plantings of cabernet franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot. Prominent voices in the Valley say that its future is only in pinot noir and chardonnay, but I think cabernet is a more than capable applicant.
The newcomers are all planted on rootstocks in view of the scourge of phylloxera on the horizon, in this case literally as the Tarrahill vineyard gazes towards St Huberts Road in the distance. This is not a decision taken lightly. Rootstocks cost in order of $7 or so a vine, whereas cuttings nearer to the $1 mark. The money I think is well spent. As a student of the history of phylloxera, the only surprise will be if it doesn’t ravage the Valley from top to bottom.
Tarrahill have only three wines that are newly released, although the opportunity to benchmark a few more proved informative. Here are some brief notes.
Cedar and nectarine aromatics. Good length and lovely acid balance. Roughly 50% new oak, but absorbs it easily. Jonathan describes it as a fatter style having seen full malo and new oak, but I think its seam of acidity is really quite attractive and reminded of recent travels to the Côte de Beaune. $30.
Pinot noir 2013
Stems, spice, cedar and cherry aromatics. Mid length, cedar and cherry characters on the palate. A well made and balanced pinot noir that is enjoyable now. $30.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
It is no secret that I enjoy medium bodied Yarra Valley cabernets, and this one is no exception. Classically profiled, its aromatics remind of cloves and blackcurrants. The palate is an exercise in blackcurrants. Medium bodied, this wine will reward a few years in the cellar. $30.
Pinot noir 2014 (not yet released, but bottled)
I felt that this as yet unreleased pinot noir had some “x factor”. Boysenberry aromatics, with towards long length and the cedar influence just right. An impressive pinot.
Chardonnay 2015 (in tank)
The direction of this wine was still under consideration. No oak influence, lemon and herb aromatics predominate. The acidity is prominent, and completely different in style to the 2013. A “real” Chablis style without necessarily that being sought. Mother nature at work.
I couldn’t help thinking that this wine “out-Craiglee’d” Craiglee’s benchmark Sunbury shiraz. This is intended as a compliment. Blueberry aromatics, with peppery characters on the palate supplemented by plums. A medium length finish and lovely balance.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Dusty, leafy, typical cooler climate cabernet expression. Quite sweet cassis on the palate. Lovely drinking.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (barrel sample)
Barrel samples always seem to impress me with their youthful verve, and seduce with the promise of what might be. This is still esthery, with aromatics of blackcurrant and cedar. The tannins are prominent, and the length promising. There’s a lot of potential here.
Tarrahill’s website is www.tarrahill.com.