News - Merlot Musings
09 April 2013
2013 has been a very kind vintage, even though Mother Nature could have given us a little bit more water earlier on. All of our Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Meslier has been picked, so too our Merlot has been picked at optimum ripeness just this week with only our Zinfandel to go. In Eden Valley we currently have an ideal week of weather in which the last of these grapes can take their time to finish ripening. In other news we were completely over the moon to be awarded three out of three in the 2013 China Wine Awards with our 2008 Zinfandel Reserve, 2009 The Baroness and 2008 Grand Merlot all collecting Gold Medals in amongst what must be the biggest competition these awards have seen yet. Another reminder that our continued efforts and dedication to excellence have resulted in global recognition in what is one of the world's most exciting wine markets. If you love red wine and white wine but haven't enjoyed Irvine Wines already, you really must put enjoying our wines on your list of life experiences. April 24th is a date to remember for our magnificent dinner at Regattas, at the Adelaide Convention Centre. James and Joanne will be there in person as we enjoy 6 courses of brilliant food and tremendous wines. Email us, call us or see our facebook page for booking details, we would love to see you there.
20 April 2012
Cellar Door Tasting
At last! At last! At last!
Irvine wines are now available for tasting and purchase at:
"TASTE EDEN VALLEY" in Angaston - just opposite the Angaston Town Hall in Washington Street - No. 6.
Come enjoy the tasting opportunity with Karina, Lynn and staff.
Irvine wines ranged together with ten other Eden Valley makers.
Try the whole Eden Valley experience in just one place!
Open every day.
Ph 08 8564 2435 Email email@example.com
20 April 2012
Vintage 2012 is over!!!
Now we can see just what we have after a long year's work.
The whites are excellent, with great purity of varietal flavour and crisp texture.
Then came a three week break as the reds slowly ripened.
Superb Cabernet Sauvignon with great leafy and fruit tones. Punchy Cabernet Franc showing strength, florals and richness in abundance.
Then the Merlots: Stonewell, Barossa and finally our Springhill Vineyard at Eden Valley - all intense plummy characters, full of fruity richness and huge, soft enveloping tannins.
While these were fermenting the Zinfandel was sulking - and just not ripening much at all. It still isn't, but this week's warm weather will certainly push it along.
A vintage of positive things with texture and structure in high order. In turn this will give excellent varietal definition with truly rewarding flavour.
No shrinking violets in the Irvine wine cupboard this year!
Now to get them cleaned up and packed away to mature - exciting stuff this waiting!
We will taste them all again in October and let you know just how good they are.
08 September 2011
China Wines Awards 2011
Results from the 2011 China Wine Awards were released this week, and Irvine Wines is delighted to report on its outstanding success.
When advised of the results, James Irvine, had the following to say: “When you enter an international wine competition and do well, it is a real thrill. When you enter three new vintage wines in an international wine competition and get a Trophy, two Double Gold Medals and a Silver Medal, you are busting at the seams with pride.”
The three wines entered were new vintages released in the last four weeks, and it was the 2006 Grand Merlot, that won a Trophy, Double Gold and named Best Australia Wine - an outstanding confirmation of the quality and standing of this iconic Australian Merlot which has yet again successfully competed in an international forum.
The newly released 2008 Irvine Zinfandel Reserve also won Double Gold and the 2009 Irvine The Baroness was recognised with a Silver Award.
Irvine Wines is absolutely delighted with this superb win in the China Wine Awards 2011, particularly as the judging panel is made up of wine importers, distributors, wholesalers, restaurateurs and representatives from major purchasing groups. These people are aware of what the Chinese consumers want in this specialized market, and Irvine Wines is proud to be recognized as a company that can provide the outstanding wines that these consumers demand.
23 June 2011
Underdog in the vines
Graeme Philips wrote a nice article on our wines in The Mercury in Hobart. See the full story online!
19 June 2011
More to merlot than expected, says maestro
Reprinted from THE SUNDAY EXAMINER MAGAZINE June 19, 2011
Winsor Dobbin - Off The Vine
Merlot does not have a great reputation as a fine wine grape in Australia; and its image took a hammering in the film Sideways a few years back.
But merlot is the key grape in the great Bordeaux wines of St Emilion and Pomerol, where it is a formidable presence, so why do so many Australian merlots taste dilute and uninteresting?
Who better to ask than Barossa Valley winemaking veteran James Irvine, who made a recent visit to Tasmania to promote his range of Irvine Wines distributed by Wine Profile. The Irvine wines include no fewer than three
straight merlots and a couple of merlot blends. His car number plate even reads “MERLOT”.
Irvine has been making merlot for over 30 years – longer than just about anyone in this country – and is known as “Mr Merlot”.
His top-of-the-range Irvine 2004 Grand Merlot sells for around $125 a bottle and he believes the muchmaligned variety can be “one of the most exciting wine experiences of a lifetime”.
He pinpoints merlot’s opulence and velvety mouthfeel as the variety’s points of difference when done well, but admits there are several that don’t come up to scratch.
“It is the opulence of good merlot that sets it apart,” he says. “A good vintage of merlot can overwhelm you with bold aromas and flavours of plums, violets, chocolate and olives. Others show more nuances of currants, earth and tobacco.
“But a lot of people planted merlot in the wrong regions in Australia, and the winemaking needs to be precise.” He said. “A lot of people also pick it too early. I like to leave merlot out in the vineyard until it is fully ripe.”
The Irvine range includes a Sparkling Merlot Brut along with entry-level Irvine Springhill Merlot made from younger vines and bursting with plum and dark berry flavours (around $20), the Irvine Estate Merlot (reviewed
below) and the ultra-luxe Irvine Grand Merlot, a consistent winner of awards on the international stage. The current vintage is the funky 2004 from old vines and made using new oak.
Irvine is a veteran of 60 vintages overall in a range of capacities, having worked for many years for Hardy’s, Krondorf and Saltram, as well as doing consultancy work.
He bought his Springhill property in the Eden Valley, high above the Barossa, 30 years ago because he felt it was ideally suited to merlot and other emerging varieties. Back in 1980 he was one of only six Australians
growing merlot, today the grape is everywhere.
The Irvine range also includes a sparkling wine made from the obscure Champagne grape meslier, along with savagnin (the grape formerly believed to be Albarino) and zinfandel.
His legacy will live on with his daughter Joanne following in his footsteps as a winemaker.
Irvine 2008 Estate Merlot - $30
Made from older vines by merlot master Jim Irvine, this shows just how good merlot can be in Australia if all the elements come together. It has a depth of flavor, richness and complexity and is beautifully balanced. It is a ripe, sensuous wine texturally interesting with sensibly restrained oak. This and an outstanding 2006 Merlot Cabernet Franc blend were my favourites from an eclectic range.
16 May 2011
No More Tastings at Eden Valley Hotel
I regret to advise that the Hotel has decided to stop tastings for the foreseeable future.
As disappointing as I find this, I think they are making a mistake, as many people have told us of their experiences of this quaint and ancient country hotel which has on tastings some of Australia's finest wines - the Irvine Merlots.
We are not sure just how long this lack of tasting opportunity will occur, but we will certainly let you know when we are able to make suitable alternative arrangements.
16 May 2011
Vintage Report 2011
The 2011 vintage will certainly make its mark in history as far as the Irvine Springhill vineyard is concerned, and I guess many others in the surrounding districts of Eden and Barossa Valleys.
It was indeed a most unusual and most difficult year. After such a magnificent start with the full-on winter rains, we were led into a complacency that we were in for a great, great year. However, Mother Nature had other ideas!
As the grapes started to grow we saw the first signs in the district of powdery and downy mildew, and the rains continued, and plenty of it.
Veraison at the end of January was soon followed by indications of botrytis and other nasty moulds, so the hunt was well and truly on to protect the crop even further than we had in the previous three months from flowering.
No doubt you can guess what happened. The spray materials were just unavailable, and so we moved from supplier to supplier and state to state to get whatever small supplies we could. Even so we just managed to get enough, but couldn't save the Meslier or the Zinfandel from the botrytis.
Obviously we are very thankful that we had good crops of the rest of the varieties, and in fact the Chardonnay was absolutely superb.
Even now, as the last of the Merlot is finishing ferment in tank we don't really know what the standard will be for at least another six months. By then everything will be obvious.
Once again we were fortunate enough to be able to separate each block from the other throughout the vineyard because of Joanne and Peter's micro-winery.
The baumes were somewhat lower than we would have liked, but then amongst our emails was a super congratulatory note about our 1985 Grand Merlot - the first we ever made - which had been opened in April this year, and this was a wine of 13.5% alcohol, not our usual 14.5%. Well might you say that this is an important fact, but you have to remember that it has been in the bottle 26 years and not many businesses survive waiting 26 years to sell their products.
Autumn now has started to give way to winter. The leaves went yellow extremely quickly and there are some people out pruning, enjoying the glorious sunny days, even though they are cold.
Now the interesting wait to see how the 2011 wines turn out. Currently the only two we know of are the Savagnin and the Pinot Gris, both of which are a little fresher and crisper this year because of those lower baumes.
2011, as the grape growers say, was a year when the winemakers really had to work! No doubt there will be great wines, and not so great wines, so there may well be a lot of searching going on in the next couple of years.
16 May 2011
Grand Merlot 2006
Now that we have got the Penfolds thing out of the way, maybe we can get on to the really global wines. Grand Merlot 2006 was indeed one of the riper ones and has even more depth than usual, together with fuller tannins and oak complexities, all wrapped up in that velvety structure that many of you have become used to.
This 2006 will take a somewhat longer time to develop its full reward, and indeed will certainly be a 20 year wine. I would still suggest that it will be at its best around 2016 to 2020 for those lucky enough to secure some.
Many of you will remember that very little 2005 was available in Australia, and indeed most of it was sold into the Asian and European markets.
We anticipate the release of the 2006 Grand Merlot being 1 June 2011.
2009 Brueghel Reserve Merlot
Here is a very different Merlot, and one we have been waiting on for more than eight years. The grapes come from the Stonewell vineyards of John and Al Shobbrook.
There may be a number of you who remember Stonewell for the superb Stonewell Shiraz of Peter Lehmann, a worthy wine indeed, and it was a curiosity for us to see what Merlot would be like from this very same up and coming district. If the Shiraz was great, what would the Merlot be like?
This first reserve Merlot has another difference, for we have changed the label to another Brueghel painting - "The Wedding Feast". Here again of course you can see Brueghel's skill and clear understanding of village life, and we thought it very apt that the "feast" would want a good Merlot to go with it.
The bouquet and flavour are quite different, but equally silky, generous and soft as our Eden Valley Merlots, but it has a mid weighted structure with quite some elegance and spice.
We look forward to these vines maturing a little further and the depth of flavour increasing somewhat, for we can see this in the 2010 Reserve Merlot which is still in barrel.
I am sure you will enjoy the variations.
Strictly a mail order only wine.
Irvine Meslier Brut MV
The only other change that we have made is to the label of the Meslier Brut Royale, wherein the back label is now readable, for it has the same yellow colour as the front with black print. This is a very personal thing, for I hate not being able to read back labels.
30 March 2011
Summer - When Is It Coming?
What an amazing season we are having in Eden Valley!
Top temperatures for the day vary from 16°C to 36°C, with most being the
low ones. The rain keeps coming, now starting to drive us all mad as many of the sprays cannot be used because of the withholding periods.
If you are not into grapegrowing but sheep and cattle, then this is a real
bumper season. Fresh green grass keeps coming and coming after each
Obviously the countryside looks magnificent, but somewhat out of place with all the green instead of brown colours, so it seems to be eternally spring. Nights are cold even though the days are warm and comfortable, with only an occasional hot one.
All the grapegrowers are hoping for is great autumn weather and NO more
rain, to finish off what could for some be an excellent season.
There is no getting away from the cost of spray protection to save the best
grapes, but if they can get through the next few weeks in March then Eden
Valley could have some “cracker” wines in 2011.
Be this as it may, there will be some failures I am sure, so it could end up a
bit patchy, so wine-lovers may have a bit of searching to do.
01 November 2010
2010 Springhill & Friends – Small Lots
Joanne’s separation of the Merlots is like the flight from Egypt, and “the parting of the waters” – let’s hope we don’t get wet feet.
Just to give you some idea of what we are doing, here is a list of the separate ferments from each separated block:
Planted 14 years
D3V14 Merlot (GLA)
Planted 16 years
Planted 29 years
Planted 28 years
Planted 6 years
Plus those from other vineyards:
Shobbrook – Stonewell Merlot
Zinfandel (ours) – Eden Valley – 30 years
Shiraz (Barossa) for Brueghel – 75 years
Pinot Noir (Burgundy Clones – Barossa for Brueghel) – 36 years
Tannat (ours) – Eden Valley – 30 years
Cabernet Franc – Barossa – for Baroness and Merlot Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon – for Baroness and Brueghel
Average yield at Springhill was 1.97 tonnes per acre (5 tonnes per hectare).
So you can easily see what a headache, or ten, the timing and storage has been, let alone the fermentation room.
Why all the fuss? Well we can now pick out the very best blocks to go to the appropriate wines and so maximize the quality and the style – every year!
An understanding of excellence is critical in this opportunity of selection. Not only an understanding of excellence but also how to achieve it.
It is this understanding of excellence that we continually seek by comparing our wines, in each price bracket, with Merlots from around the world and Australia. In this way we see not only acclaimed excellence and style but also that which is accepted in each price bracket.
Having global awards for not only Grand Merlot but also The Baroness, Zinfandel, Estate Merlot and Merlot Cabernet Franc, we feel that we have the “experience and excellence” needed to offer leading Merlots across all prices.
With each of our vineyard blocks being separated we certainly now have the finest opportunity to enhance the “excellence of our Merlots”.
When Joanne’s winery is equipped to handle white wines “by the block”, then these too will be subject to the most careful selection.
01 November 2010
Back to “usual” conditions of a truly wet winter and slow, gentle spring. The buds have shot well; the soil moisture is excellent; the mid rows need slashing; and we can now get on the ground for trellis maintenance.
This year’s straw has been placed under the vines to act as a mulch and so make sure that the vine roots are cooler as well as saving water. As we are not on mains water we rely totally on the water that runs into the dam to serve the vineyards and the house garden. On a separate system we catch 140 kilolitres of rainwater to service the house and office.
A tiny bore of 5,000 litres per hour supplements the dam catchment, so this is how we have been able to survive this last four years.
Touches of winter still appear, 5 degree nights and 11 degree days, with a shower or two, then bingo! A day of 22 degrees – makes us all feel happy again, especially with the sun beating on the back.
Come mid November the vines will flower and the berries will set – then we will know the potential crop for 2011.
From our point of view we could do with a big crop after the last few years!
In summary then we are experiencing a “normal year” – so far.
01 November 2010
New “Sparkling” Gun
Sam Scott works as a consultant in Joanne's Wine Wise Wine Consultancy while developing his "Holy Grail" - deluxe sparkling wines.
Graduating from Lincoln University some years ago, Sam has spent time in retailing and wholesaling to widen his whole wine experience. In doing so his love for sparkling wine and Champagne slowly but surely became his desire until now he has released the first "Spindrift" White Sparkling and a Sparkling Pinot Grigio, “The Great Wave”.
To support the range Sam has a beautiful Fiano and a Shiraz Sangiovese.
Each of these wines is very stylish and quite unique in character and flavour, offering a whole new, exciting experience.
While all this is going on Sam is quietly developing his traditional method sparkling from Adelaide Hills fruit, Pinot and Chardonnay. This will of course take "lees" time, so look out for this wine in about three years time.
Prices per Bottle
Shiraz Sangiovese $25
Spindrift Sparkling $25
Great Wave Sparkling Pinot Grigio $20
Yes, Sparkling Pinot Grigio – quite unique in Australia, but used overseas quite often, particularly Germany and UK.
Till then try Sam's other wines just for the interest involved and the differences.
Sam can be contacted at:
Scott Winemaking Pty Ltd
Mobile 0439 553 228
Fax 08 8311 1722