Mount Horrocks Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard, Watervale
Mount Horrocks’ owner and winemaker Stephanie Toole loves this latest line-up.
“The Alexander Vineyard Shiraz is really vibrant, just delicious. It’s so good to be offering this wine after missing the 2020 vintage (no shiraz made that year). “My latest Semillon is drinking really well, a touch more palate weight makes it that bit more satisfying’. “The cabernet is a beautiful wine, lovely lingering cassis palate.”
These releases are certainly different as well as very drinkable. Truly biodynamic and organic (they are ACO – Australian Certified Organic) Stephanie’s hands-off winemaking approach means that they are also vegan and vegetarian friendly.
However, Stephanie makes the point that this strict biodynamic and chemical-free approach is all about making the best wine possible and “the positive impact on the environment is a wonderful by-product.” By-product perhaps, but the two are intertwined. As Stephanie puts it: “Visiting the vineyard is a joy; it’s so healthy and beautiful and you can taste the difference in the wines.”
MOUNT HORROCKS ‘ALEXANDER VINEYARD’ SHIRAZ 2021
This wine has become acknowledged for the distinctly ‘European approach’ that Stephanie has always taken. But what does ‘European approach’ mean?
One quarter of the hand-picked fruit is whole-bunch foot crushed to give more perfume, while the remainder is crushed and fermented for more palate weight. Both components then spend 18 months in French oak barriques.
Stephanie’s aim has always been to produce expressive and poised examples of the variety – a wine that’s both fresher and lower in alcohol. However, this is not achieved by simply picking the grapes earlier, which can result in a leaner wine.
One benefit of a balanced vineyard is the achievement of full flavoured grapes earlier, so a moderate alcohol, fresh yet full flavoured palate is possible.
“Perhaps the term ‘balanced’ rather than European would better describe where I’m at now” says Stephanie. This latest shiraz certainly reflects that.
Vibrant cherry red. Lovely, bountiful juicy dark fruits and plush oak with hints of lush tobacco leaf. Full bodied and intensely flavoursome, yet not in any way heavy, the dark red and black fruit, earthy tannins and balanced acid deliver a beautifully rounded wine to enjoy now through to over a decade. A lovely, lovely wine that you will find it difficult to keep your hands off.
MOUNT HORROCKS CLARE VALLEY SEMILLON 2022
The Mount Horrocks Semillon Vineyard is on distinctly weaker, rocky soil. The vines struggle even in a ‘normal’ season. According to Stephanie, semillon vines need to be challenged if a wine with depth of flavour (as is the case here) is to be achieved. Mount Horrocks Semillon demonstrates long lingering lemon and spice flavours complemented by creamy lees complexity and a touch of French oak.
Light yellow-gold with a lime edge. Apple, lemon and lime fruit aromas over spiced oak. Flavoursome, without being heavy, this oak-aged semillon is a truly distinctive wine. Generously flavoured, citrus and baked apple fruit, stylish oak and gently creamy barrel ferment texture, its zesty acidity ensuring the flavours linger long. Delicious drinking now yet has a decade’s ageing ahead, if you wish.
MOUNT HORROCKS CLARE VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2021
Stephanie hand-picks her cabernet (and all her other grapes) to ensure the fruit’s pristine condition on arrival at the winery. After cold soaking, the ferment is gently plunged 3-4 times a day. The wine then spends 18 months maturation exclusively in French barriques, 35% of which are new.
This may be described as ‘text book cabernet’ except that hand-working and harvesting cabernet vineyards, as Stephanie does, is becoming rare. Here, the benefits are clear.
Critic Huon Hooke would seem to concur, recently awarding this wine his ‘wine of the week’: “95 points: Stephanie Toole’s cabernets are at the more modern, fresh and elegantly structured end of Clare Valley style. They age beautifully. A bright, fresh style of cabernet with mulberry, blueberry, cedar and wood spice aromas. Fresh and lively in the mouth, medium-bodied, not big but intense and the structure indicates it will mature well with time. Elegant and poised, a gorgeous wine, enjoyable now but I’d recommend waiting a while for best results.”
Great depth of colour. Cabernet’s distinctive blackcurrant and briar notes on both nose and palate, along with chocolate, black olive and smooth, supple tannins. A medium bodied, very fine, elegant wine that will sail effortlessly through the years to well past 2040.
Preparation of Cow Pat pit