It’s always an exciting time each August waiting for the annual “Australian Wine Bible”, the Halliday Wine Companion to hit the shelves.
I’m pleased to say that this year, along with retaining our 5-red-star winery rating, we received a wonderful 96-point rating on 4 of our wines:
2017 Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Shiraz | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Ultra-close planting of 5000 vines per one-third/ha, and only a production of 250 dozen. Exceptionally deep and bright crimson-purple; it is no less strikingly intense, its mouthfeel supple, velvet and full of spices sewn through black fruits. Then, after all that, the tannins are so fine and soft they leave you wondering where they went.” James Halliday August 2019
2017 Hard Hill Road Mule Variation | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“A blend of Nebbiolo, Tannat, Durif and shiraz, says Richardson ‘inspired by the Tom Wait's album', and is a blend of his most enigmatic red varieties. Like Wait's music, Mule Variation is an unexpected take on an otherwise regular theme. The wine is supremely intense, yet medium-bodied rather than full-bodied, and the red, purple and black fruit flavours are all in harmony.” James Halliday August 2019
2017 Chockstone Shiraz | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Vivid, deep crimson-purple - spectacular. Black cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant don't intend to give red, blue or purple fruits permission to speak. Oak and tannins are allowed to suggest support roles, but that's as far as it gets. Yet it's not the winemaker who has shut the door - it's the fruit and the site climate that have become the guardians of the River of Styx.” James Halliday August 2019
2018 Chockstone Riesling | 96 points Gold + Special Value Rating
“Bone dry, yet intensely fruity. It's not an easy matter to achieve, and the Grampians can lay claim to be the most successful region in Victoria for Riesling other than Henty. Acidity is one of the keys, climate the driver.” James Halliday August 2019
We also received these other great scores:
2017 Hard Hill Road The Field | 94 points Silver + Special Vale Rating
“A complex wine utilising every variety in the estate vineyard, fermented in one large open fermenter, the varieties added as they ripened, a steady nerve required. It is a blend of 52% shiraz, 22% Riesling, 10% Nebbiolo, 9% Durif, 5% Tannat and 2% viognier. It has a foundation of small forest berry fruits with a savoury overtone.” James Halliday February 2019
2018 Chockstone Pinot Gris | 92 points Silver + Special Value Rating
“A very attractive texture and structure filled with nashi pear, Granny Smith apple, citrus and a carpet of soft acidity.” James Halliday August 2019
To celebrate these scores, we have put together a special pack, available for a limited time only:
2 x 2017 Chockstone Shiraz
2 x 2018 Chockstone Riesling
1 x 2017 Hard Hill Road Mule Variation
1 x 2017 Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Shiraz
$190 in value for just $169 with free freight
Members – if you would like to receive these wines in your allocation next month, just let us know.
We are proud to have received a Certificate of Excellence from The Real Review for the second year in a row.
Here is what The Real Review have to say out this certificate:
“We review around 10,000 wines each year and are delighted to see so many wineries producing wines of outstanding quality.
The Real Review Certificate of Excellence is awarded to a select group of wineries that consistently produce excellent wine. The Top Wineries list is a national benchmark that shows where your favourite winery is ahead of its peers.
Certificate recipients are determined by a proprietary algorithm, which takes into account the rating and recency of reviews by The Real Review team over the assessment period.”
When you get caught up in day to day life, it’s easy to forget how much we’ve achieved in a relatively short time.
Looking back at the photos of our property when we first purchased it in 2006, when it was sheep grazing land, compared with where we are at today, you can’t help but feel proud.
The Red Series puts Western Victoria’s finest wines on show during the Ballarat Winter Festival.
Ballarat will host Western Victoria’s top winemakers and their best wines at The Red Series on July 27 from 1pm – 6pm.
The event, which showcases the Grampians and Pyrenees regions’ finest red wines along with other varietals, is expected to draw a crowd to Ballarat.
The Red Series is a gathering of the very best cellar doors from the Pyrenees and Grampians wine regions, in the one ambient heated indoor space the Mining Exchange, right in the heart of Ballarat and a two minute walk from the train station.
Red Series event-goers will have the opportunity to taste and purchase Shiraz and other wine varieties from 20 wineries.
The Grampians and Pyrenees wine regions, situated on Ballarat’s doorstep, are renowned for more than 150 years of winemaking history, spectacular landscapes, award-winning wines and extremely talented, but down-to-earth winemakers.
The lne-up for 2019 includes:
From the Pyrenees region:
- Dogrock Degraves Road Vineyard
- Blue Pyrenees Estate
- Wimmera Hills Winery
- Dalwhinnie Winery
- Summerfield Winery and Accommodation
- Glenlofty Estate Wines
- Amherst Winery
- Sally's Paddock (Redbank Winery)
- Taltarni Vineyards
- Peerick Wines
And from the Grampians region:
- Grampians Estate
- Clarnette and Ludvigsen wines
- Seppelt Wines
- Mount Langi Ghiran
- A.T. Richardson Wines
- Montara Wines
- Pomonal Estate
- Mountainside Wines
- Fallen Giants Vineyard
- Best's Wines - Great Western
Wine lovers, you do not want miss out on this event! There will be something for everyone including cheese, produce and music entertainment.
Early bird tickets $35 until the 26th July | Price includes souvenir glass and a 6 bottle cloth bag.
Tickets on the door $40 | The Red Series brought to you by Ballarat Volkswagen
“A completely gorgeous nose with dark cherry, pepper, spice, liquorice and clove. The palate is cool and composed with an excellent supple core of dark fruit and bold framing tannin. Beautifully medium-bodied with good savouriness on the close.”
Thanks to the delightful Toni Paterson for the lovely words on our Mule Variation on The Real Review.
We feel so proud to have received this amazing accolade so soon after opening our humble cellar door.
Thanks Gourmet Traveller WINE!
#1 2018 Victorian Riesling by Huon Hooke, our 2018 Chockstone Riesling is in Huon’s words “gorgeous”.
95 Points – “Light yellow hue with a dried herb, creamy yeast and dried wildflower bouquet. It's a lovely nose. The palate is likewise attractive, not bone-dry but slightly juicy, with crisp acidity drying the after-palate, the follow-through satisfyingly fruity and harmonious. A gorgeous Riesling.”
Winemakers live for the vintage season. It’s an exciting, stressful, fun and exhausting experience, but it is the one chance a year when we can focus on nothing else but creating our wines. Mother Nature always adds some twists and turns to every vintage, and this season was no exception. What was looking like a nice relaxed on-schedule harvest was thrown to the wind with a two-week heat spell in late Feb/early March just after we picked our Pinot Gris.
Although we normally wouldn’t pick fruit during a heat spells if we can avoid it (I prefer to pick cool grapes), the Chockstone Riesling happened to hit perfect ripeness in the midst of the heatwave, and rather than wait for cooler weather I decided to pick it immediately. So, as you can imagine, it was a great relief to see it come off in perfect condition and with a great balance of acid and flavour. I think the slightly-stressed vines were as happy as me to have the fruit safely picked and in tank.
The white ferments, the Gris and the Riesling, finished in the last week of March and are currently going through the slow process of settling. They look great, wonderfully crisp with a subtle yet aromatic palate. Tasting cool wines from tank is one sure-fire way to forget that hot spell!
Reds always come later as they require more sunshine hours for the flavours to fully develop and for the Baume (sugar), acid and tannin levels to reach my preferred balance, and this doesn’t always happen in the whole vineyard all at once.
I split the Chockstone Shiraz harvest into two parts, the earlier pick from the top more exposed part of the block was harvested just after the Riesling, about two weeks early and came in ripe, rich and showing lots of blackberry and pepper characters. The second half of the block was picked 10 days later and shows a remarkable liquorice and dark chocolate character. Two distinct halves of what looks like one of our best Chockstone Shiraz blends.
We pressed off the last of the Chockstone Shiraz ferments at the end of March, before they commenced their malolactic fermentations (the process where malic acid is converted to the softer lactic acid, which lends a roundness to the wine), and then eventual transfer to barrels for maturation.
The grapes off the Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Shiraz vines were the next to come off, all hand-picked over two days last weekend. The last varieties to be picked, as always, are the Nebbiolo and Tannat, and they will likely be picked this weekend or early next week. Once harvested, they will make up the last of the fruit in our unique blends, The Field and Mule Variation.
The Field is a new blend made up of each of the varieties on our Hard Hill Road vineyard and their percentage of vineyard acreage is their percentage of fruit in the blend: Shiraz 52%, Riesling 22%, Nebbiolo 10%, Durif 9%, Tannat 5% and Viognier 2%. These grapes are fermented in an open-top fermenter with the various grapes being added as they are picked, creating a vintage-long fermentation and a fascinating wine.
The Mule on the other hand is a blend of our most enigmatic red varieties: Nebbiolo, Tannat, Durif, and Shiraz. I carefully handle these big-tannin varieties to keep them soft, supple and under control. I’m aiming for a wine that has a seamless flow between its complex structure and refined fruit flavours.
Overall our yields, while always low (not usually more than five tonnes per hectare), were about on par for the whites and a bit below average for the reds.
Vintages don’t happen without the help of friends and neighbours, so a big thank you to those that have helped out this year, in particular Ian, Andrew, Haydn, and Adrian (visiting from Bali). Cheers boys.
While there have been plenty of afternoon beers on the “three-beer bench” (it took me three beers to make) throughout vintage, it is nearly time to put my feet up for a brief moment, and toast to a successful vintage, before its time to get on the road selling and start pruning all too soon!
We will be at the Grampians Grape Escape wine festival 4-5 May and look forward to seeing you there.
At the event, Victoria’s longest running food and wine festival, you can rediscover the majesty of the Grampians and enjoy the region’s best wine, food, and music. Come and meet me, and the other winemakers and producers who are transforming Western Victoria into a foodie’s mecca.
Get your friends, family, and kids together and wander through a village of 120 stalls. There’s something for everyone, including masterclasses and cooking demonstrations, live music and celebrity chefs, plus plenty of free fun for the kids.
We’ll be featuring our full range of Chockstone and Hard Hill Road wines, and we’ll even provide a sneak peek of our new Grower Series. We may even do some guided tastings, so stay tuned.
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