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JOHN ROZENTALS reports on the devastation of a New England vineyard on the cusp of vintage.

February 20, 2019 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Topper’s Mountain, one of the pioneering vineyards and wineries in the cool-climate NSW New England region — has been an unfortunate and severely hit victim of bushfires around its Tingha base.

The most immediate impact was the cancellation of last weekend’s scheduled Picking & Party Day, when fans, most of the customers, would have got together dor a day of celebration.

Much more serious, though, is complete cancellation of the 2019 vintage, which was raring to go as the fire took control, and the yet-to-be-finally assessed damage to the vines.

“This wall of fire arrived on our southern boundary,” Topper’s owner Mark Kirkby told Matt Bedford, the ABC’s local reporter.

“Not long after that, it started spotting — that’s when our priorities changed pretty drastically.”

That, too, as Bedford reported, was when, row by vineyard row, the flames took hold.


Xanadu 2015 Exmoor Shiraz ($18): This full-bodied Margaret River dry red shows ample varietal pepperiness and ripe dark-berry flavours, but it’s the lashings of liquorice that shine through. These flavours are all well balanced by puckering tannins and well-handled oak. The wine has been made for drinking with red meat in many guises.

Xanadu 2017 DJL Chardonnay ($24): I presume that the DJL stands for Dr John Langen, who founded Xanadu in the late 1970s. The wine itself is the very model of a modern chardonnay from Margaret River — loads of powerful varietal stonefruit characters, plus retrained winemaker-nuanced complexity will reward medium-term cellaring of about five years.


Topper’s Mountain 2014 Wild-Ferment Nebbiolo ($38): This review is based on prior tasting and I apologise profusely if the wine has become unavailable. No commercial yeasts were added to the mix of juice and skins which was initially left to cold soak. It says heaps about the exemplary fruit character that only old barrels were needed for maturation. Nebbiolo is the king of Italian red varieties and it shows in this lovely, beautifully balanced wine that seems to shift between full- and medium-bodied on each tasting.

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