May 25, 2015

What Makes A Good Vintage?

The 2014 vintage will ultimately go down as one of the Hunter’s finest. The media hype surrounding the vintage is well and truly vindicated by the glowing smiles on the winemaker’s faces. Exciting stuff! Bring it on!

So what is a “good” vintage? It’s kind of subjective when you think about it. I guess it’s more of a collective agreement among the wine fraternity of a particular area. Or is it? Even that can be misleading. One could safely profess that it is completely weather dependent. But the more established and reputable vineyards may claim that they are less affected, from a quality perspective, than some of the less established and less reputable vineyards. Put it this way, I have grown up around wine my entire life and I have yet to hear too many winemakers tell it how it is……
“So what was your vintage like?”
“It was s#$%!!”
“So do you think I should buy anything from you this year?”
“Hell no!!”

Ok, enough said, moving along. Would it be unsportsman-like for me to throw the gauntlet out here and ask the question, “How many wine drinkers actually take the vintage into consideration?” Now, I am leaving out of this those who are “wine enthusiasts”. One of the most important aspects of drinking wine is the vintage. To a wine enthusiast, this is common sense, yet, as the great saying goes, “common sense is not that common.”  Mind you, do those same enthusiasts take into account the varietal clone, soils, trellis assembly, cropping levels, stylistic aptitude etc etc. Possibly, possibly not.

So what was the question again? Oh yeah…what is a good vintage?
I can tell you this story now, as time has since passed. In 2001 the Hunter copped a bit of inclement weather for the reds. Having come off a long string of incredible vintages in ‘98, ‘99 and ‘00, it was a challenge to string together a line of reds which would show up as premium products. In those days, before I bottled any wine, I would seek the council of the great Len Evans (I didn’t have to go far – he lived around the corner – but “seeking council” sounds debonair and makes for a better story). Len and I spent a few hours conversing on this particular day. The idea I had in my head was that the wines were not of the quality that had historically been made at Marsh Estate, and I had all but made a call to not bottle them, but simply on-sell the wine to a commercial company. Len strongly debated with me that the wines, although not as weighted as the
aforementioned vintages, were an intimate reflection of a great vineyard and world class (I’m pretty sure he said world class – ha) winemaking. He attested that very quickly the wines would settle well in the bottle and be more than okay to place into the market.  Now here’s the part of the story I love. As he was leaving on this particular afternoon, he turned and claimed that at the ten year tasting, held each year to taste all the ten year old reds from the more established and reputable vineyards, that they would be shining. I looked at him in disbelief. Ten years later, in 2011, I attended the tasting with Bruce Tyrrell and Rod Kempe of Lakes’ Folly, and we were blown away by the quality of our wines. Not only were they sound, they were great wines! I am far from exaggerating when I tell you that the wines that we still receive pictures or emails and references for, are the 2001 reds, and I nearly didn’t put a label on them.

So what’s a good vintage? Hhhhhhmmmm............I’m glad we cleared that up. 

November 28, 2013

Gold Gold Gold

Gold, Gold, Gold!! The continuing success of Marsh Estate’s Semillons in the show arena has propelled these single vineyard gems into iconic status. The brand new 2013 Semillons are sheer class, from arguably one of the best Semillon vintages in the Hunter’s history. Mind-blowing wines! A pleasure to make – a pleasure to drink.   As usual, Holly has been devouring them in record time and so I urge you to get in before it's too late.......

As I re-read that opening paragraph, I am reluctantly drawn in by its rather far reaching claims, appearing distastefully priapic. Wine companies in Australia are spending record amounts on promotional tools in order to better place themselves in an increasingly tough market. The use of PR and media companies within the wine industry is at an all time high, with the view of sending out a clear message – we have a great product...buy it...now! Yet there is talking the talk and there is walking the walk. Very few are doing both.

Wine is a personal journey. This is beautifully expressed in this universe simply by observing that you, as a wine lover, have a nose and a mouth. Your wine journey begins here. Or does it? Maybe it begins with your eyes, as you read an interesting article on wine. Or maybe it begins in experiencing the ambience and beauty of a famous wine region. It’s personal. Outrageous claims and clever marketing may be enticing at times, but the buck stops with you.

So my question is this. Where does the magic lie for you? Where does your journey take shape? The great Len Evans once asked me this very question, just before I began my wine studies at university. My answer came immediately, void of thought….“it begins in my heart.” Len’s face lit up and I will never forget his lovely, warm smile, as he offered six words I have made my mantra….“then begin your journey from there”.

The one resounding, elemental truth which I have been afforded from growing up in and around wine is this: There is no such thing as “good” quality. There is only “depth” in quality. That depth, despite what PR companies or fancy labels tell you, will never be born from the when or where or which or why. Depth of quality rests solely in the “how”. The manner in which the grapes are grown and the wine is made will reflect intimately, that depth of quality. In the intent and approach, the quality of wine is birthed.

When wine is made with honour and grace, it shines through, not into the finished product, but as the finished product. It's that simple. When you hear some Australian wine producers making claim that the wine has been put through this process or that process and spent this long in oak doing this or that, it seems a trifle innocuous. The first time I ever visited Chateau Latour in Bordeaux the winemaker took me out into the vineyard and asked me to shut my eyes and listen and feel the essence of why the wines of Latour are so amazing. To this day I have never felt such a powerful insight. There were no words, just an undeniable but charming vibration. Twenty years later, my point here has been beautifully expressed in the recently released film, Red Obsession, in which the head viticulturist of Chateau Latour is asked why the wine is of such high quality. His answer - energy and the subsequent vibration. No words of wine production or fancy labels or clever marketing jargon. Two simple words, energy and vibration, one in the same. Honour and grace, one in the same. There is a lesson here.

Coming back to basics is not easy for an industry which has come through so much growth in the past couple of decades. Sadly, it was never sustainable. In fact, every wine article I read from within the industry refers to the recent downsizing or shift in vineyard planting as “negative growth”. The idea and attachment to the word growth in our society today in concerning. Grow or die! Maybe we could replace the word growth with evolve? When the media recently put the spotlight on Marsh Estate being one of the only true wine estates in the country, I could almost hear staunch economists out there shaking their heads in disbelief….“but how do they grow?” The fact is we don’t. We evolve. I’ve always harped on the fact that Marsh Estate lies on the two most famous soil profiles in the Hunter; everything is grown, made, matured and bottled onsite, in single named vineyards, without the use of irrigation. That is not a story. That is fact. We co-create the story. It’s your journey. I simply stick to two words, honour and grace. Then I pass it on to you.

Cheers

Andrew Marsh

Winemaker

November 2013

May 08, 2013

Bee Pop

 

Within the safe and wonderfully non-judgemental confines of this page, I duly wish to share with you an ongoing and concerningly malevolent default switch in my brain, which shows no respite.  I should probably point out now that there are no aggressively underlying intentions surrounding this chronic trait which should have you alarming the authorities, however, that being said, I suggest that whenever you strike the urge to approach me, you do so with strict caution.

A few weeks ago, something happened.  That’s all I’m saying.  In response to this positive event, I followed in the footsteps of the French by giving away something rare and sentimental in my life by virtue of a present, to a person or people with whom I chose to share my good fortune.  I have only chosen to do this a handful of times in my life and the implications are remarkable. This is not a simple ‘share the wealth’ scenario or ‘complementary’ acknowledgement.  A goodwill gift is based on a very deep respect for the recipient.  It is strictly based on sentimentality, not price.  It is given with ‘intent’, to enrich the lives of that person or those people.  In essence, you are giving away unwritten or unspoken prosperity.

Now, I need not remind you that there is something comfortably and sequentially reassuring about ‘giving’.  Whether it is your time, effort, money, whatever…life is about giving.  Put it this way…a rich and fulfilled life is about giving.  So it was with an ironic profanity that I should choose two people of whom I have only recently formed a friendship, to be the recipients.  Strangely enough, I believe the gift chooses the person.  My reasoning for this belief stems from the fact that I had a cast of people, with historic ties, that should have headed the line.  But I intently dislike the word ‘should’ and I live in the now and that is that.  Although I am not inwardly or authoritatively familiar with these people in every way, nor them with me, there is a familiar aura which surrounds our relationship. It’s fun!  And it’s now!  It has to start somewhere!

The small gift in question was (surprisingly!) a bottle of Champagne.  To bequeath an unexpected bottle of alcohol onto people always brings smiles………

“Wow! What’s this for?”

“Nothing!”

“Really?.....Oooookkkkaaaayyyy………thank you…..I guess.”

So that part went fine, but here’s where my malevolent gene kicks in.  When I present the bottle I do it with sheer intent…….“May all your dreams come true!”  Within seconds however, I take from my pocket, two smaller gifts for each of my friends.  A slightly sinister smile creeps onto my face as I hand them what is known as a ‘Bee Pop’.  For the uninitiated (of which I was until I found them that morning in a so-called health food shop), a Bee Pop is a small lollipop shaped confectionery, rather much like a Chuppa-Chup.  A small tag is connected to the stem which simply reads……….‘Bee Pop …….contains bee pollen and wheat glucose…..MAY CAUSE ALLERGIC REACTION.’

Now I guess it was only going to be a matter of time before I would unwittingly expose my true colours to my newfound friends.  Having masterfully disguised my ‘other side’ behind a soiree of charming personalities since the day I met them, the arguably magnetic nature of being confronted by a splendidly irrelevant and bewitching novelty, which may have you lying on the ground, covered in welts and gasping for air….is well….just too ludicrously appealing.  I had to have one!  In fact, I had to have two!  And I gave them away with the same intent as I had with the Champagne.  However, this time there was a kind of Jekyll/Hyde sentiment of sorts surrounding it……

“So, you will have to tell us when to drink the Champagne?”

“Well……the quicker, the better I suppose….”

“What about our Bee Pops?”

“Oh, straight away! Right this second! Mmmmwwwhahahahahahaha…….let me just get some popcorn……and the camera………….and the adrenaline syringe…..”

Let’s discuss.  Somehow my brain sounds like it is a little divorced from reality…don’t you think?  I do!  These two people are the most amazing human beings and of whom I am abundantly fond.  I wish for them every happiness…….forever.  Paradoxically, I also wish for them to be clinging for dear life, in a state of allergic shock, on the side of a road with a Bee Pop protruding from their mouth.  Could it be, do you think, in the same vein as watching stuntmen performing outrageously dangerous stunts and thinking to yourself……..

“I hope he makes it……or do I? Actually, what’s the point in watching it if there is absolutely no chance that this may……just may…….end in tears?”

Hhhhhmmmm! Let’s look at it from the other side…….from the side of the bees.  I don’t know a lot about bees but I am acutely aware of their input into our universe.  Bees are the essence of nature.  They are the fine mesh of ecological harmony.  I remember watching a Sixty Minutes programme recently and without rehashing its content, it made continued references that without bees…..we are all f***ed!!  You see, a kingdom (or queendom, or whatever it’s called……I’m just making names up now) of bees is as divine and harmonious as the fabric of life itself.  Bees have formed these mind-blowing colonies of themselves to keep nature from collapsing.  Amazing stuff!  This highly organised secret society of over-zealous buzzing revellers, was born and impressively commandeered and sequestered from the rest of the universe with strict instructions from the original Queen bee…..WORLD DOMINATION AT ALL COST!!

Why do you think bees sting us?  Because they’re trying to kill us, that’s why!   They’re just not very good at it.  Occasionally you hear of someone passing on as a result of a bee sting, but that’s not enough for the bees to be happy or successful in their plight (it still amuses me however, when humans act so adamantly surprised by nature’s miraculous ability in defending itself).  So the bees recently had a world forum……ok…….and decided that the next phase of their world domination tour would take shape by the introduction of a highly sophisticated and venomously delightful lolly on a stick called….that’s right….a Bee Pop!

It unnerves me a little to acknowledge the fact that I understand their way of thinking.  They’ve done their market research, these guys. They realise that doctors worldwide are diagnosing more and more people with food allergies and it is now hitting epidemic proportions (up 1000% from the 80’s), particularly in young people.  This incessant need for overbearing parents to bubble-wrap their offspring so as to seclude them from any unwanted or unnecessary ‘environmental nasties’ is carving away a solid platform for the bees to infiltrate their Bee Pops into society…….but wait….there’s more!  They are smart enough to realise that if they hit the health food market but also brilliantly convey a subtle health warning on the tags, mindless kids and translucent weirdos such as myself, will be helplessly drawn to Bee Pops like ducks to water.  They know that if they do not display this warning and there is an ‘episode’, Bee Pops would be taken straight off the shelves.  You can almost sense the closeness the bees have of securing their wishes.  I can envisage them coming together in the coming months to forment (not ferment…not yet, anyway….and that’s another made up word…just so you know).  I can see them now, gradually building an empire of Starbucks-styled Bee Pop cafes, luring the young and insane to the horror of onlookers observing this abhorrent behaviour……….

“Welcome to the Bee Pop café…please select from the following menu…original Bee Pop – lashings of allergy-ridden bee pollen and wheat glucose!  Bee Pop Deluxe – a blend of fatalistic natural allergens and honey, topped with granules of poison ivy!”

“Hi….yes, I might order…..uuummm…..one Bee Pop Deluxe, a double shot histamine coffee and ….uuummmm……what are those things?”

“They’re our famous brownies….Bee-rownies….they can really mess you up…facial twitching, hives, wheezing…..you name it.”

“Yeah, great! Give me one of those, too.”

“That’ll be $9.60.”

“Oh, can you super-size me?”

“Sure!  That’ll be $12.95.”

“Wicked!”

Although I have now become one of the bee’s greatest fans, I am just a little saddened to note that I have still yet to witness the dire effects of an adverse reaction to a Bee Pop.  I have spoken to my friends since and I am again slightly saddened to find that they are still walking around the world unscathed.  I have eaten so many……..well, let’s just say I went on a three day Bee Pop bender and not one adverse reaction.  Not one!  Not even a sneeze!  I feel somewhat duped. Is it asking too much to walk into a health food shop, see someone eyeing off the Bee Pops, only to purchase one and open it and have an allergic reaction and die right there and then?  Just one! 

“Oh Wow, there’s Julia Gillard….look…over there in that health food shop! She’s eyeing off those new Bee Pop thingys….she looks kind of funny sucking on a lollipop……CLUMP!!!! Oh s***…that couldn’t be good!”

 It’s not asking a lot in my book.  It’s not as if my concerningly irrational default switch in my brain would ever create something really twisted….like say…a carbon tax! I feel sorry for the bees though, imagine how they are feeling.  I’m sure things will turn around.

In saying that…all this Bee Pop talk is too enticing…..so I’ll just unwrap this here…there we go…mmmmmmmmm…..they are a rather delicate treat all the same…they taste like…ooohhh….is it hot in here suddenly or is it just me…I’m not feeling so good…what are those little pixie-looking things doing dancing on my skin……I can’t seem to breathe….quickly……somebody call an ambul……CLUMP!!!’

Cheers

Andrew

December 08, 2012

November newsletter 2012

 

Wow!! Have we been excited to put this mailing list out, or what?   Ready?  

First and foremost, our phone can finally stop ringing, with the long awaited release of the 2007 Cremant!   Holly has already drunk most of it so there is a very limited quantity of it to sell – BE QUICK!!         

Also, we are releasing the full range of 2011 reds!!   One of the greatest Hunter vintages in history, these wines are looking simply superb.   To prove my point, for the first time in five years, we have made the infamous Sinclair Shiraz.   Please trust me, if you are an avid Marsh Estate fan, don’t miss this opportunity of grabbing some of the Sinclair.   As one very prominent winemaker stated after showing him the Sinclair two days after bottling…..“Marshy, this is not only the best 2011 red I’ve seen….it’s one of the best red wines I’ve ever seen….you must have oompa loompas in the winery helping you…..it’s incredible!”

What else?   Oh yeah!   The 2012 Jacques’ Path.   Many of you experienced the glorious 2011 Jacques’ Path and this little fizzer steps up and will blow your mind.   Enjoy!

Right,  Holly’s happy now as I have followed her strict instructions to introduce the wines first and then waffle on.   I kind of like waffling.   I become centred and lucidly sentimental.   Talking of sentimental, the 2013 vintage, which will begin in a matter of weeks, marks my 20th year as chief winemaker at Marsh Estate.   Prior to that, I worked alongside Dad, stints overseas, as well as years of University.   I remember as a little kid, kicking around the winery, dreaming of one day running the show.   Our area was very small in those days, even though the Hunter Valley was Australia’s oldest and most famous wine region.   People with names such as Tyrrell, Tulloch, McGuigan and McWilliam would drop in.   Max Lake from Lake’s Folly would call by and pat me on the head as he strode past to see my father.   Len Evans would often call in and leave much later than anticipated due to an unforeseeable thirst.   The wine industry was for the purest, yet it was starting to gather some serious momentum.   A momentum which would ultimately quadruple the industry in little more than a decade.

When I was studying wine at University, the true nature and true regionality of the medium to top end wines was still vibrantly evident.   Advances in viticulture and winemaking products and technology, where exciting breakthroughs were the talk of the land, were numerous. Australian wine and Australian winemakers were gaining world-class recognition and record wine sales were vindicating these achievements.   New wine “regions” began popping up all along the Eastern seaboard, as well as in the West.   There was encouraging growth and banks were lending money to anyone investing in wine production.   The glory days were here……..but they were short lived.

Today, there are too many wine producers.   What does that mean?   From a range of answers, the glaringly obvious is…..oversupply.   Sadly, in conjunction with this, the softly regulated industry in Australia means that integrity throughout each region has been all but jeopardised.   True terroir, the essence of what wine is all about, is a term so loosely thrown around nowadays that producers are even deluding themselves.   The word “Estate” seems to appear everywhere, yet I do not know of one other producer in Australia that grows everything on site without the use of artificial watering systems (non-irrigated), makes every wine from each segregated singe vineyard block of grapes in their own on-site winery and bottles them on premise.   That is the true meaning of a wine “Estate”.   Strike me down for being old fashioned but surely….surely….there needs to be some revision of the wine industry’s code of practice to protect and assure the consumer of authenticity. Again, I will pose the question….Why would you venture to the beautiful Hunter Valley , to walk into a cellar door of a “boutique” establishment, and taste and buy wine which is not even grown in the Hunter Valley?  Or for that matter, buy a Hunter Semillon in a McLaren Vale winery?
It would be financially vindictive for us to behave in this fashion yet I grew up in a different time, where wine was to reflect the vineyard, the vintage, the variety- the true terroir.   I do not wish to mar your wine experience by behaving in any other fashion.   When you come to see us, you are in our home.   A home dedicated to wine-Hunter Valley wine.   That is what we do.   It’s who we are.  I point blank refuse to shake the foundations of people who love wine and desire the authenticity they so deserve.   My family built an amazing Estate to share the wonders and magic of this beautiful part of the world and we will cut no corners in providing you with that experience.

OK, Holly is ushering me down from my soap box and encouraging me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and an awesome New Year.   We hope you have fun.  Drink lots!

September 21, 2012

Three words… Holly’s Block 2011!

 

Three words… Holly’s Block 2011! (Is 2011 a word? Hhhhmmmmmm… have to look that one up). Lots of positive press, Gold Medal at the Hunter Valley Wine Show and inclusion in the Good Wine Guide as “The Best of the Best”, has propelled this single vineyard Semillon into iconic status. The media hype surrounding the 2011 whites has been received with glowing smiles and is a reflection of a great year in the Hunter. Simply delicious!!

I am writing to you today from d’Arenberg Wines in McLaren Vale. We have travelled through the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, the Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra and now McLaren Vale. I have just had a long chat with d’Arenberg’s owner, d’Arry Osborn, about the current climate of our industry and subsequent topics. d’Arry is the genuine article. A wine man through and through and just a great bloke, I love him. d’Arenberg is one of my favourite wineries and as I sit overlooking some of their famous vineyards, I am reminded of how lucky we are in Australia to have such an amazing viticultural plane to work with.

I am travelling through South Australia’s great wine regions with one soul intention – to taste and buy wine! Nothing else. Wine is my life and visiting cellar doors is a huge part of that passion. As with any conscious wine travel, there have been highs and lows. I have been saddened by the amount of wine companies I have visited where the cellar door is manned by misinformed, disinterested and in some instances, downright rude staff who marred the entire experience. The cellar door experience in my book, is about giving the visitors a unique peek into your world as a wine producer. Giving every ounce of energy and passion and sharing that magic with grace and vigour. The one word which has always summed up the mystique and magical world of wine is authenticity. Unfortunately the Australian wine industry has lost a lot of this in recent years. Too many wine companies are placing too much emphasis on wine promotion and product placement and the grass roots element has faded away. Too many of the newer companies (up to 15 years old) are cleverly conveying themselves as established regional icons yet sourcing grapes for winemaking from four or five different regions. Why would I go to the Barossa Valley to taste and buy a wine from the Clare or Adelaide Hills or God forbid, the Hunter Valley? That is not a cellar door experience. Not only that but there are more wine brands in Australia than not which are exactly that – brands. There is no owned winery or vineyard, no rhyme or reason, they are merely just labels.

If your cellar door experience lacks that essential ingredient of authenticity through there being a lack of a winery or visible winemaker; lack of local vineyard land; a host of labelled wines from outside regions or simply an austerity and lack of passion evident during your experience, you have fallen victim to what I call a “disparity by design” kind of moment. Get the hell out of there! There are a host of great cellar doors elsewhere………..keep looking!

Most of the cellar doors which fell into this category, I questioned. The subsequent answers filtered through in the form of “What are you on about, mate? It’s a commercial reality to have wines from outside regions.” So I ask you today, when did the words “commercial reality” replace the word “opportunism”? It’s the wine industry we are talking about here! What happened to “provenance”, “history”, “love”, “passion” and stuff it…..good ‘ol fashioned “integrity”? Why would you visit a wine region to taste and buy wines from outside that region? Really! I understand the larger commercial companies have to operate like this but you can count them on two hands. The rest are small to medium sized companies. It only happens in the new world. The famous and most reputable wine regions of Europe do not condone this behaviour. Something to think about.

On the whole I was impressed with the quality of a few relatively unknown but well established wineries and will be happy to share them with you on our website www.marshestate.com.au. I have a truckload (really) of wine to be sent back to the Hunter next week so re-stocking the cellar will be a joyous occasion.

d’Arry has just informed me that the 2012 vintage will be his 70th vintage. How awesome is that? All I can say is that the wine industry and wine lovers across the globe wish you well……..

OK, ready? For this mailing list we are releasing the 2011 whites of which you cannot, as a Marsh Estate fan, miss out on – be quick! Also, may I introduce a new little fizzer to the stable – Jacques’ Path. Made from 100% Semillon in a German Riesling (Mosel) style, loads of personality and beautiful crisp acid coupled with 40 grams of residual grape sugars, it is addictive, so be warned! I take no responsibility! YES! That is the 2005 Holly’s Block on the list….don’t thank me now! Also for this mailing list, we are releasing the three 2010 Shiraz. Vat “S”, Vat “R” and Private Bin. Whoa! It’s all happening! Tiny amounts so I will say this once – BE QUICK!! We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you in the cellar door soon.

As always for this mailing list we are subsidising the freight. Freight is free to Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast and is only $12.00 per carton, door to door, elsewhere in Australia. Our International shipping rates are exceptionally well priced so feel free to email us with any queries.

Cheers,

Andrew Marsh
Winemaker

 

2011 POPPY’S MAVERICK  SEMILLON
Made from 100% “basket pressed” Semillon from our sandy loam creek block. This maverick little wine typifies the traditional/modern style with a twist. Bursting with lifted fruit, steely natural acid and zesty appeal.  Enjoy this drink now style.

2011 HOLLY’S BLOCK SEMILLON
Made from 100% Semillon free run, an outstanding example of a traditional styled Semillon. Displaying exceptional complexity and depth, with great balance. Cellaring will pay handsomely. A classic Hunter Semillon..

2005 HOLLY’S BLOCK SEMILLON
Made from 100% Semillon free run, this is a true example of traditional Hunter Semillon. Showing beautiful honey and toasty characters, a very refined and complex palate, together with great structure and balance. Drinking well now but further cellaring will pay handsomely.

2011 UNOAKED CHARDONNAY
Made from 100% “basket pressed” Chardonnay. Picked early in vintage to mimic a sparkling base and left on extended yeast lees. This textural, estery and creamy stylistic wine is made primarily for Asian dishes.

2011 CHARDONNAY
Made from 100% Chardonnay free run. Matured in 80% French and 20% American oak barriques for six months, it has produced a full flavoured wine with excellent oak overtones and accentuated fruit. It will cellar well for 4-5 years.

2011 JACQUES’ PATH
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher who became famous for his theories of dissemination, thinking outside the square. The wine reflects Jacques’ philosophy. Made from 100% un-irrigated Semillon in an off dry style, similar to the famed German Riesling style. 40 grams of residual grape sugars and mouth piercing acidity gives rise to this lovely focused style. Loads of personality! Drink icy cold.

2009 MERLOT
Made from 100% non irrigated Merlot grapes grown on sandy loam soil from our Creek Block. It has made a lively, soft, early drinking wine with excellent balance. It should be enjoyed while reasonably young.

2010 VAT “S” SHIRAZ
Made from 100% Shiraz grapes grown on red soil from our eastern block.  It has produced an elegant, softer style wine with a well balanced tannin structure and a rounded finish. Stored in American oak barriques for 12 months and will cellar well for 4-5 years.

2010 VAT “R” SHIRAZ
Made from 100% non irrigated Shiraz grapes grown on red volcanic soil from our western block. Stored in French and American oak for 12 months, it shows lovely, rich, regional characters and dense fruit with excellent balance. It will cellar well for many years.

2010 PRIVATE BIN SHIRAZ
Made from 100% non irrigated, low yielding Shiraz grapes grown on red volcanic soil from our house block. The wine displays classic varietal characters combined with regional distinctiveness. Stored in a selection of premium French oak for 12 months and cellaring will pay handsomely.

2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON VAT “N”
Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from our house block. Medium, plum red in colour with lots of spice and cherry characters with soft, velvet tannins. Stored in French oak for 12 months and will cellar well for many years.

September 21, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

  

 

Wow! It is all happening at Marsh Estate at the moment! Busy, busy, busy! I hardly know where to begin. Updating the winery and bottling line; deep ripping the vineyard and renewing trellis systems; strategising new labels and oh, enjoying the brand new website…..www.marshestate.com.au. Does all this make the wine taste better? Let me share something with you.

There are two ways in which to view wine. One, a drink. Two…..a story. Wine of course is a drink, first and foremost. The story however is not just what is written on the back label. You see so many wine companies who create stories about themselves and then sell it to you, the customer. There is nothing wrong with this approach, as it forms a platform for a more enjoyable wine experience. I even attended a Wine Federation of Australia conference where we were told that creating a story around your brand was imperative. I don’t know. I know the Marsh Estate story. It is a story full of family commitment and ties; of a love of a product so dear to my family that we went to all kinds of lengths to ensure the greatest quality was being grown and made. It was fun growing up in my family. Wine was everything. The thing is, that is my story…..not yours. I strongly believe that the relationship you form with your own story far surpasses that of another’s. Wine is a drink. The story you form determines whether that drink is full of excitement, laughter, fond memories and times shared with family and friends. Your experience of your wine visits to vineyards and cellar doors, meeting the very people who create the magic is and always will be your story, no one else’s. To me, my wine drinking and enjoyment takes on so many dimensions due to the deep respect I have formed for my interpretation of the wines I drink. The wine just being drunk is literally drowned in fond memories. Does it taste better? Of Course! Think of your favourite restaurant. As soon as you walk in, there is a fuss made about you. Smiles, welcoming laughter and a familiar atmosphere. Sure, you are aware that there is a history associated with the restaurant. Family, good produce and a reputation to uphold. You, however, see through this as you create the very context of your experience in your story. Does the food taste better? Of course! The entire meal takes on dimensions far beyond just being cooked food lumped on a plate.

The one thing mum and dad used to always say to us growing up was that Marsh Estate is only in our care. It is only possible to genuinely succeed in what we do if we give up the right of ownership to the people who enjoy what it stands for. Integrity is a word which is loosely thrown around to form the impression of authenticity. Integrity is not just doing things a certain way or administrating correct procedures, integrity is honouring your word. Only then will authenticity be possible.

There is nothing in life more appealing than the genuine article. Sadly, the wine industry has lost a lot of its appeal due to the lack of this. Wine to me will always be about reflection of the producer. Everything being grown, made, matured and bottled on site and reflecting the vineyard, varietal and vintage is the genuine article. Marsh Estate and Lake’s Folly are the only remaining true Estates in the Hunter Valley. That is not right or wrong. That is just a fact. To me though it is difficult to create your beautiful wine stories from anything else. But as I say, they are yours and yours only……..Enjoy them.

OK, for this mailing list we have the awesome 2010 whites and the ever popular 2009 reds! The Poppy’s Maverick Semillon upon release, has been the fastest selling white wine I can remember. I needn’t comment on the 2009 reds as the strong media sentiment has all but sold them out. Very small quantities….BE QUICK!!

Dad is really well and enjoying life to the hilt. He has recently arrived home from an extended wine tour of Germany and Austria and has a million stories (there they are!) of which are fascinating. It is great to see Dad still so vibrantly in love with the most amazing gift in the universe…..wine.

As always for this mailing list we are subsidising the freight. Freight is free to Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast and is only $12.00 per carton, door to door, elsewhere in Australia. Our International shipping rates are exceptionally well priced so feel free to email us with any queries.

 

September 21, 2012

Tasting Notes 1998 – 2006

 

Wine Assessment Sheet  1998 – 2006

1998 Brilliant year

Whites: Showing beautiful development and lovely structure.   Have a look at some now and extended cellaring encouraged.  Reds: Very full bodied year which have never lost their vigour.  Big, juicy styles but starting to soften and drinking superbly now.

1999 Very good year

Whites: Typical Semillon characters of honey and toast now obvious and very delicate on the palate.  Finely structured wines of great finesse.   Great food wines, try some now.
Reds:  Finely structured wines which should be enjoyed sooner rather than later but will hold up in the short term.

2000 Textbook year

Whites: Continuing to turn and developing with grace.   Rich styles that are drinking very well now but try to develop further.
Reds: Old guard Hunters!   Sweet leather, plums, chocolate and earth, stuff which made the Hunter famous.   Get into them now.

2001 Fruit driven year

Whites: Lovely soft styles with delicate fruit and drinking superbly already. Lovely wines.
Reds: Will not need to be cellared for much longer.   Beautiful developed characters abound.   Drink soon.

2002 Good year

Whites: Just starting to turn and will be typical styles of high quality in the near future.   Start drinking soon.
Reds: Typical Hunter styles which I suggested in the last assessment will be best in 2007. That’s now, enjoy!

2003 Drought year

Whites:  Keep until 2008 before you start drinking and see where they sit in your palate.   Were awesome young wines but not quite developed, as yet.
Reds: One of the great red years. Fantastic regional styles with lots of upfront fruit. Sinclair shiraz a knockout! Enjoy some now and your palate will tell you if you want to lie some down for the future.

2004 Good average year

Whites:  Generous styles with great fruit and again drank very well as young wines.   Hold on until 2009 if you can.
Reds: Luscious styles with fine tannin structures.   Delightful wines which are drinking well now and short term cellaring advised.   Drink before 2010.

2005 Textbook year

Whites:  Wines which were made for the future.   Be brave and keep in the cellar, these wines will be Hunter classics. 2011 and onwards, if you can.
Reds: Balance, balance, balance.   Across the board, wines of lovely complex fruit and beautiful balance.   Drink some now and try some in 2009 and onwards.

2006 Hot year

Whites: Sharp, crisp wines with obvious luscious, upfront fruit.   A year in which  the wines are drinking superbly young, i.e. now, and if cellaring, have a look in 2010.
Reds: Awesome, concentrated, rich, complex fruit with lots of upfrontness and loads of personality.   Terrific styles-don’t miss out!

September 21, 2012

Hello world!

  

 

I was chatting with Jim Chatto the other day (pardon the pun). Jimmy is the winemaker at the great Peppertree Winery and is not only an exceptional winemaker but is one of the world’s best blokes.  We attended university together.  Jimmy spent a lot of time in lectures whilst I spent most of the time in the pub.  He regrets it now but I don’t give him a hard time about it.  I mean, you only get one life and there are more pubs in the world than lecture theatres to get through, but he realises it now and that’s the most important thing.

At university, the conversation, as with the majority of testosterone-laden young lads, would invariably meander towards females or how much you drank the previous night or how much you drank the previous night and still managed to fulfil your sexual conquests…..with whom you can never quite remember…..but worthy of note (and maybe a beating of the chest) all the same.  It’s funny how quickly life changes.  Our conversation the other day was made up more of talking about the evaluation of oenological potential of the species Torulaspora delbrueckii which could possibly indicate significant intra-specific variability, in particular regarding its fermentative capacities including its lag phase, duration of fermentation and of its volatile acidity production.  As if this was not a vast indicator that our youth was behind us, we vibrantly redirected the conversation to our kids and how cute they are.  What?  I know!  Most conversations end up here nowadays.  But you know what…..it puts a smile on our faces so there must be something in it.

I was telling Jimmy that I bought my kids their first case of wine for their perspective birthdays last year and that it is nearly birthday season again.  Is that illegal?  It probably is!  I mean you can’t just go out and purchase alcohol on behalf of a minor, can you?  I probably shouldn’t be telling you this then.  I’m unsure of what is socially acceptable.  My family only ever gave wine as presents.  I distinctly remember my tenth birthday.  A friend of mine excitedly asked what I ‘scored’ and so I excitedly replied “A bottle of 1977 Chateau Lafite and a bottle of 1976 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey…..and a couple of BMX pads…..”

On my thirteenth birthday, my parents were in France and so my present was wrapped up and given to my school housemaster before they left.  He brought it out and presented it to me on my birthday and inside sat six bottles of 1970 Ferreira Port.  They were quickly confiscated and retrieved by my surprised parents upon their return.  The ensuing meeting went something along the lines of…..

“…..Yes, but Mr and Mrs Marsh…..it is just not correct procedure to send alcohol as a present to your thirteen year old son…..”

“Really! Look, we don’t mean for him to drink them at school of course, but as we were away it is family tradition to give wine!”

“Well, alcohol is strictly forbidden in any form.”

“…..Will that be changing anytime soon?…..”

“No, Mrs Marsh!”

“Just thought I’d ask…..”

Of course, mum and dad gave the entire family wine for Christmas, birthdays, weddings, whatever.  Stuff to put in the cellar, you know.  Just like I’m doing with my kids.  I don’t expect them to drink it now…..that would be silly…..the wines are not ready to drink yet!  I have started a cellar for both of them and plan to stock it over time.

So did my parents neglect to appreciate society’s stance on the subject of alcohol?  Possibly!  Did this evolve into a rather precarious relationship with the consumption of alcohol within my family?  Most definitely!  Did we enjoy it?  Bloody oath!

Wine was pretty well the only subject my family talked about at the dinner table.  Well, wine and rugby.  Oh, and horseracing.  It was fun growing up in my house and the wine on the table was never just a drink.  It was a story.  A beautiful story.  My parents would rehash tales of travel and discovery of the world’s most famous wine growing regions.  Having based themselves for three long years in Europe in the early sixties, simply to experience the magic of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany and alike, there was never a shortage of stories to share.  They made wine come alive, thus creating  a possibility for us to form a very, very deep respect for wine and the wine industry.  So whilst it would be easy to accuse my parents of aiding and abetting their three offspring in the so-called dangerous land of alcohol consumption, one might consider this background with a hint of apathy.

I do not wish to forge a debate with regard to alcohol in society.  I am a winemaker. You will lose. And as far as I can gauge, I am the only one with a pen in hand.  I will say this, however.  The wine industry, many years ago, without any pressure from outside, decided to self administer the common ‘Enjoy wine in moderation’ on each wine label.  I do not believe in moderation myself, due to my upbringing, hence do not display this on my label, albeit most do.

Sadly, the consumption of alcohol can flirt with some serious consequences and so care must always be taken, which goes without saying.  I always wonder though, if you have two people side by side in a hospital ward, one with alcohol-related illness and the other with an eating disorder (anorexia or obesity) it is clearly not the alcohol or food at fault.  People put themselves in the position they often find themselves in.  Sad but true. My parents may have sugar-coated the consumption of alcohol in our home with those colourful stories, leaving a forest of underlying dependency issues and feeding it with birthday and Christmas presents filled with exotic bottles from far and distant places, camouflaged by the wrapping paper…..but that was their way of expressing their love of wine and the enjoyment which ultimately precipitates from that.  In the eyes of an anti-alcohol campaigner, this may be a concerningly irresponsible manner in which to conduct your family affairs, yet to us, those beautiful stories will forever live on and wine will remain the focus of our family.

Anyway, I must go and finish wrapping these fine bottles of Tyrrell’s 2005 Vat 1 as it is my little boy’s fourth birthday in a couple of days. One day, when he opens a bottle, a lovely, warm and grateful smile will appear on his face and all the beautiful wine stories of his youth will be ever present…….

Cheers

Andrew