WINE: Tallawanta vineyard leased to Brokenwood

CUSTODIANS: Brokenwood chief winemaker and chief executive Iain Riggs and viticulturist Keith Barry inspect the prized Tallawanta vineyard vines.
CUSTODIANS: Brokenwood chief winemaker and chief executive Iain Riggs and viticulturist Keith Barry inspect the prized Tallawanta vineyard vines.

BROKENWOOD has become the ‘‘honoured custodian’’ of the much-prized, heritage-listed Tallawanta vineyard, between Hunter Valley Gardens and Harrigan’s Irish Pub, in Broke Road, Pokolbin.

The nine-hectare vineyard is planted predominantly  in shiraz, with a small plot of semillon, and over the years has produced some of the Hunter Valley’s finest reds.

In a deal that also involves a land swap, Brokenwood has leased Tallawanta from the Roche Family Group.

Brokenwood chief winemaker-CEO Iain Riggs told me the company had taken an open-ended lease over Tallawanta and had agreed to give the Roche group ownership of a two-hectare block adjoining the Brokenwood Cricket Pitch vineyard and would receive, in exchange, a 2.4-hectare bushland block between Cricket Pitch and the Graveyard vineyard.

Iain said Brokenwood regarded itself as the ‘‘honoured custodian’’ of Tallawanta and was ready to make major expenditure on improvements to the vineyard.

The much-admired shiraz plantings consist of 4.9hectares of vines dating back to 1920 and four hectares of 15-year-old vines. The vines yield only about 0.4tonnes of grapes per hectare but produce wonderfully intense fruit.

The first vines were probably planted on Tallawanta by the pioneer Wilkinson family, now honoured in the Audrey Wilkinson label wines. The vineyard was owned for a time by V.B. Stevens before it was bought by the family-owned Elliott wine company.

Tallawanta was one of the jewels in the crown of the Elliott operation based at the Oakvale winery in Broke Road, Pokolbin.

The vineyard was acquired in 1997 by Australian Nutri-Metics cosmetic business founders Bill and Imelda Roche as part of a transaction that saw their Roche group buy the former Hungerford Hill Wine Village property, now the site of the Hunter Valley Gardens resort.

In 2001 the Roches added to their stock of heritage vines by buying the former Lindeman’s Steven vineyard in Gillards Road, Pokolbin, from Southcorp Wines.

In 2010 the group decided to scale down its wine operations and leased Steven vineyard to the De Iuliis family wine company and the Tallawanta vineyard to geologist Dr John Davis’  Pepper Tree Wines.

Pepper Tree has produced some great reds from Tallawanta grapes.

At this year’s Hunter Valley Wine Show the $90 Pepper Tree 2011 Tallawanta Grand Reserve Single Vineyard Shiraz notched a 97-point top gold medal and won the Doug Seabrook Trophy for best red of show, the Hector Tulloch Trophy for best shiraz, the James Busby Trophy for best three-year-old and older shiraz and the Drayton Family Trophy for best named vineyard red.

Now the last Pepper Tree Tallawanta wines will come from the 2014 vintage and from 2015 Brokenwood will add Tallawanta to Graveyard, Mistress Block, Maxwell, Drayton Oakey Creek, Belford Block 8, Stanleigh Park and Brycefield to its list of prime fruit sources.

THE NSW Wine of the Year and 2014 NSW Wine Awards trophy- and gold medal-winning wines will be announced in Sydney on Friday,  October 31.

The presentation will take place at a luncheon at Simmeron the Bay.

The awards attracted 828 entries, and judging took place in Griffith on September 30 and October 1.

As a prelude to the release of full results, the judges have  listed 148 wines that have qualified for gold or silver medals. Seventy-three are from Hunter-based producers.

 The wines will be featured in a Sydney public Outstanding on the Pier tasting on Thursday, October 30, at Pier 2, Walsh Bay.

Tickets to the tasting cost $50 and are available at nswwine.com.au. Tickets to the October 31  presentation luncheon can also be obtained on this site.

THE Tyrrell’s 2005 Vat 1 Semillon last week continued on its winning way by claiming the 2014 Melbourne Wine Show trophies for the best semillon and the best mature white.

Earlier this month  it won the 2014 Adelaide Wine Show trophy for the best semillon of the show and, in combination with the 2013 and 1998 Vat 1s, took the the Gramp, Hardy, Hill Smith prize for outstanding wines of provenance.