Annual Buying Guide – 85 Wineries of the Year
MOUNT HORROCKS – by Joshua Greene
There are any number of ways to sweeten grapes for dessert wine. Some German growers leave the fruit on the vine to freeze, extracting water and leaving precious drops of juice for eiswein. Some in Italy lay their ripe grapes in straw mats to dry in buildings open to the breeze. Then there’s Stephanie Toole, in the Clare Valley, who cuts the cordons between the grape bunches and the vine, letting the tendrils hold the drying grapes to the trellis. With gentle breezes the result is a wine of honeyed richness, its high-toned spice lifted as if by the breeze. Should the wind pick up, however, much of the crop blows through the vineyard along with it.
Toole took a similar risk when she left wine sales in 1993 to move to the Clare Valley town of Watervale, bought the train station, and set up shop as Mount Horrocks – but it didn’t hurt that she was able to strike a deal with Bunny and Yvonne Peglidis, whose ancient, dry-farmed wines in Watervale produce the exceptional fruit for her wine. This year we recommended Toole’s entire production, from the 2001 Cordon Cut at the top the game, to the tart, citrusy, 2001 Watervale Riesling and the deep-toned, succulent Cabernet-Merlot blend from 1998, a great vintage to Clare. These three wines all performed at exceptional levels, while the ’99 Shiraz, not as perfectly ripe as the ’98 blend, still had a soft elegance to charm. If you’re in South Australia, you owe it to yourself to drive north to Clare. Pay Toole a visit at her restored train station tasting room, just around the corner from Jeffrey Grosset, at the head of Clare’s Riesling Trail.