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Tyrrell’s Vineyard Update – Autumn 2015  Mon, May 4th 2015


Hunter Valley
With the harvest over and done with, and the Hunter Valley having received more than 312mm of rain since the start of January, the region is looking quite lush and green. What an amazing effort our hand pickers have put in this season. They picked 333 tonnes of fruit by hand, in four weeks, compared to previous years averages of around 250-260 tonnes. This number also factors in a considerable amount of hand sorting in the vineyard, which we do to get rid of any questionable grapes and ensure that our winemakers only get the best fruit quality. Our total crush from the entire Tyrrell’s property in the Hunter was 633 tonnes.


This time of year is usually a quiet time for the vineyard, but not this year. We are busy preparing for a new planting of Pinot Noir in a small patch of reworked ground on the 4 & 8 Acres Pinot Noir block. We have also been carrying out plenty of trellis maintenance, which includes replacing end posts, fixing broken wires and dropping the catch wires for easy pruning starting mid may. And if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, soil works are ongoing as well. These include deep ripping, cultivation and one of our most important tasks at this time of year, where the boys need to get their eye and hand co-ordination into rhythm – using the cut off ploughs.

As always, Adam has done an amazing job with running our Heathcote vineyard for the 14/15 growing season. This year has been somewhat trying, with the dry season requiring considerable amounts of irrigation and on ground work. We assisted for harvest by sending down a Hunter crew to take some pressure off, this year being a light crop and the region being quite dry, the vintage was over very quickly. With only 144 tonnes of top quality fruit picked the vintage was short but awesome. Great job, Adam.


Pengalls (Andrew Pengilly, Tyrrell’s Vineyard Manager)

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"Nothing is great unless it is good" is the mission statement that has guided Tyrrell's Wines for over 150 years; and since Edward Tyrrell established the winery in 1858, we have continued to produce premium wine from what are now some of the oldest vineyards in the world.

Headed by fourth generation family member Bruce Tyrrell, Tyrrell's is one of Australia’s oldest family owned wineries. We produce some of the country’s most renowned wines, including the iconic Vat 1 Semillon, and since 1971 our wines have been awarded over 5,500 trophies and medals. Tyrrell's Wines is a proud member of Australia's First Families of Wine and along with our original, historic vineyard in Hunter Valley, we have expanded into other premium Australian wine regions like Heathcote, VIC and the Limestone Coast, SA.

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Hunter Valley, NSW

This wine region is made up of the upper Hunter and lower Hunter, and is linked by the Hunter River. Settlement commenced in the Hunter Valley region in 1826. In the 20th century, expansion occurred slowly until the boom period of the 1960s and 1970s. The majority of the vineyards in the lower Hunter are situated on the extreme southern side of what is a broad and relatively flat valley nestled into the foothills of the Brokenback Range.


The terrain is gently to markedly undulating, bordered to the north, west and south-west by the Great Dividing Range. The summer climate in the Hunter is humid, with high cloud cover and high rainfall. A break in the Great Dividing Range allows summer sea breezes to penetrate the valley. Rainfall is often highest just prior to and during harvest in February.


The vintage period is one of the earliest and shortest in Australia with harvest commencing in late January in the lower Hunter. Yields are generally low so grape quality is good, and there is an inexplicable affinity between the terroir and the semillon and shiraz grapes for which the area is justly renowned.

With our first plantings in 1879, Pokolbin remains the home of Tyrrell’s vineyards and has become recognised as some of the Hunter Valley’s finest vineyard land and the basis for development of our premium wines.


Hunter Valley “Our Sacred Sites”

Having been spared the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out the great vineyards of Europe in the 19th century, the Hunter Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Within the boundaries of the region, it boasts some of the most unique pockets of vineyard land in Australia. Bruce Tyrrell has identified a selection of these “sacred sites” for their ability to produce fruit that is “so good and so different” they warrant individual bottling.


These “sacred sites” consist of six blocks (one chardonnay, two semillon, and three shiraz) that are over 100 years old, and still producing and growing on their own roots. These represent some of the rarest vines in the world and they most probably have their origins in the Busby Collection - a selection of some 433 grapevine cuttings from Europe that were originally planted in the Hunter Valley in the 1800s.


Heathcote, VIC

Rich in gold mining history, Heathcote developed into a wine production area in the 1950s with expansion taking place in the 1980s. The Heathcote region is nestled between Bendigo, the Macedon Ranges and Goulburn Valley and is 120km north-west of Melbourne.

The landscape comprises undulating rises and narrow alluvial floodplains providing the climate and soil for shiraz vines to thrive. The climate is temperate, ideally suited to full-bodied, rich and textured shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Full ripeness is always achieved, but the climate is not so warm as to diminish varietal character.


The Heathcote region has established a reputation for high quality red table wines. Shiraz wines of unimaginable depth of colour and extreme weight of fruit are now the hallmarks of this relatively new region. Harvest commences in mid March.

The Tyrrell’s Heathcote vineyard was put to vine in 1994 and was fully planted out in 1997 with its first release in the same year. Our Heathcote vineyard sits in the deep Cambrian soil giving it a unique ability to produce extraordinary wines. The vineyard is high enough on the eastern slope of the Mt Camel range to be out of the frost zone and is protected from the hot sun in the late afternoon.


Penola, SA

The history of this region is shared with that of the Coonawarra region, which it adjoins for most of its boundary from south-east to north-west. The first vines in the region were planted in the 1890s and became more prominent in the 1950s. One of mainland Australia’s most southerly wine producing regions, it is located 360km south-east of Adelaide.

The region spans several distinctive landscape features, all remnants of an ancient coastal dune/back-swamp system. The region is flat, at an elevation of 60m. On the eastern side is the Naracoorte Range, an undulating range formed on the cemented sands of an old dune. To the west of the range is a very gently undulating plain underlain by clay sediments.


The climate is characterised by moderate, winter-dominant rainfall, moderate temperatures during the growing season, and moderate solar radiation. Rainfall is high during the vintage month of April. Maturity is in April when conditions are close to optimal for both shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. The total production from the Limestone Coast of South Australia is used almost exclusively for the production of table wine.

Fruit from the Tyrrell’s Limestone Coast vineyard is machine harvested and partially machine pruned. Must juice is then transported back to Tyrrell’s winery in the Hunter to complete its transformation into wine.

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My great grandfather arrived in Pokolbin in 1858 and took up a concessional allotment of 320 acres.  This marks the start of over 150 years of the Tyrrell’s being a constant in both the Hunter Valley and Australian wine industries.  The motto he brought with him from England “nothing is great unless it is good”, remains as a guiding beacon of what we have been, what we are and what we will be in the future.

The past 50 years has been an era of growth and innovation. We have purchased, or leased many of the great vineyard blocks of the Hunter, introduced chardonnay and pinot noir to the modern Australian wine industry and have been lucky enough to work with Hunter semillon - one of the truly unique wines of the world. Hunter semillon has been the obsession of my generation and it is wonderful to now see international acceptance of the greatness and unique quality of this wine.


When I joined the business full time in 1974, we were a small winery with 95% of the business being at Cellar Door and having made about three export sales; one each to the USA, UK and Sweden.  Today, we are a medium sized family business with vineyards in the Hunter Valley, Limestone Coast and Heathcote, and export to more than 50 countries around the world. 

The two great developments of the last 20 years have been the selection of the land for our vineyard in Heathcote in Victoria; an area which, I believe, will join the front rank of great quality region in Australia.  In the past four years, we have identified the six vineyard blocks that we have which are greater than 100 years old and when the quality was good enough, produced and bottled them as stand alone wines. These are amongst the rarest vineyards in the world.


It is the wish of the current generation that the family goes on for at least another 150 years.  Without family business our economy would lack length of vision for the future and the long term commitment to quality and innovation.

We are proud to be a member of the Australia’s First Families of Wine as we all share the same long term vision of the Australian wine industry.

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Inside information

“For the first century and a bit, winemaking at Tyrrell’s was an inside job and it wasn’t until Ralph Fowler arrived in 1971 that anyone outside the family took on a winemaking role, with Mike DeGaris and Andrew Spinaze the only other non-family members to subsequently hold the post of chief winemaker.” Nick Ryan, Australian Gourmet Traveller, November 2008.


The Tyrrell’s winemaker alumni is a roll call of great names including: Ralph Fowler, Mike DeGaris, John Cassegrain, Andrew Margan, David Hook, Andrew Thomas, Trevor Jones, Andrew Noon, Gordon Gebbie, Chris Archer, Nick Paterson, Dave Mavor, Phil Leggett and three members of the Glaetzer family: Colin, Ben and John.

Today, Andrew Spinaze, Mark Richardson and Chris Tyrrell form the Tyrrell’s winemaking team, responsible for crafting some of Australia’s most iconic wines, consistently ensuring that Tyrrell’s obsession with quality and tradition is upheld.

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12 different wines with 24 vintages


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  33 wines 

De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Pinot Noir 2016 / This exciting Yarra Valley vineyard does Pinot Noir as well as it does Chardonnay, perhaps even more so. This is a cracker. Plums, earth, slightly sappy notes with some animal skin complexity. Licorice and dark fruits. Satiny tannins and excellent length. This is no simple Pinot; this is seriously good. Should age well for a decade or more. 

Score: 95/100

20d 18h ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Hill of Grace 2012 / So how did one of our most iconic wines fare in a great year? If anything, it exceeded the enormously lofty heights expected of it. Technically, 85% French oak, the remainder American. 58% of all oak was new. 18 months in the oak before the separate parcels from the vineyard were blended. Great intensity, complexity, immaculate balance, extraordinary length. Black cherries, aniseed, bacon fat, animal hides, soy sauce and an eerily smoky note that weaves amongst the flavours. So silky, you feel that you’d slip if you tried to get a hold of it. This is undoubtedly a great HoG, but only time, and lots of it, will tell if it is the greatest of all. It is a contender. 

Score: 99/100

Best drinking: how long have you got? 30 years? 40, 50? 

Alc: 14.5%

1m 20d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  6 wines 

2010 Parker Coonnawarra Estate First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon, Connawarra

Dark ripe Cabernet nose with leather, plum, mint, strawberry jam. Beautifully textured on palate with juicy sweet fruit, velvety tannins, a certain note of drier fruit like prunes and some woody notes. Classical and aristocratic texture with great complexity and length. Warm, ripe and big, but very finely balanced and precise with a great varietal expression. 95p

10m 29d ago

 Marie Ahm, Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  10 wines 

“Australia’s 19th Century Legacy-tasting with Andrew Caillard MW”

1y 1m ago

 Colin Gaetjens, Wine Dealer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  24 wines 

“The Best Australian Wine of the Decade 2000 -tasting Part I.
Penfolds Grange 2004 and Henschke's Mount Edelstone 2002 were the stars of the day.”

1y 4m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  45 wines 

“My results from the Fine 'Best of Australia' competition (still to add the William Downie Pinot to the system). A fascinating event and huge thanks to Pekka for instigating it. Look for the full story in a forthcooming isssue of the magazine.”

4y 1m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  21 wines 

“Sandro Mosele makes an array of top pinots on the Mornington Peninsula and this is a winner. Savoury with forest floor, earthy, animal hide and smoky notes, this is primeval pinot. Exciting and visceral.”

4y 9m ago

 Ken Gargett, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Tyrrell's . In a tasting of  13 wines 

“From one of the very best Coonawarra producers, this is always fabulous value. 2006 was a tough act to follow but the latest offers a mix of flavours including old leather, dark berries and black jelly beans. A joy.”

4y 9m ago

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