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Tyrrells Heathcote reds … wines that would please the late Murray

July 1, 2017 Beverage No Comments Email Email

My fondest memory of the late, great Murray Tyrrell is of him at an old-fashioned basket press in his family’s Hunter Valley winery, sometime in the mid-1970s, sleeves rolled up to the armpits, hands scooping up red grapes, the juice running down his arms and staining his white shirt.

“Look at that colour,” he enthused. “This will make a great wine.”

That was well before the family’s involvement in the Heathcote area of Central Victoria in the mid-1990s, though Murray was still around to oversee the beginnings of that venture.

The area is certainly a deal cooler than the Hunter Valley and provides viticulturists with a completely different set of problems.

Murray would certainly be pleased with the latest of Tyrrells’ Heathcote reds, which have a steely firmness to them yet also a warmth and generosity of flavour that characterises the region as one of Australia’s best for shiraz.


Tyrrells 2014 Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz ($25): It’s hard to believe that this wine comes 20 years after Tyrrells initial Heathcote release. My how time flies. It’s certainly spicy, something that winemaker Andrew Spinaze attributes to the incorporation of the first full crop of grapes from the 1860-clone taken from Chateau Tahbilk’s vineyard.

Tyrrells 2014 Lunatiq Heathcote Shiraz ($40): People thought the Tyrrells were crazy diversifying to Heathcote and hence the name. I think that the last laugh has been with them because this is a superb red, with whole-bunch fermentation adding a gentle complexity to the wine. It’s a big wine loaded with plummy, berry character but also with an elegance that seems to set Heathcote apart.

Tyrrells 2012 Vat 1 Hunter Semillon ($85): This is one of the wines by which Tyrrells is usually judged to be among Australia’s greatest producers. I remember that extremely forthright wine writer, the late Mark Shield, once describing good young Hunter Semillon as “mean and squinty-eyed” and wondering how they developed such amazing depth and complexity as they aged. I’ve no doubt that the introduction of screw-cap closures has slowed that aging process but will, with time, create even more outstanding mature wines. This wine is more than five years old and only part way to its potential. It’s still quite restrained but shows a core of vibrant citrus-like fruit flavour that will see it live at least another decade.


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