LAST August the James Halliday 2021 Wine Companion gave the $350-a-bottle Brokenwood 2018 Graveyard Hunter Shiraz 99 points out of 100 and declared it Australian wine of the year and shiraz of the year.
In my Newcastle Herald best wines of 2020 I awarded it six out of six and judged it wine of the year, best red and best shiraz.
It's a hard act to follow but on Saturday a crowd of 320 Brokenwood shareholders and wine club members gathered to launch the 2019 Graveyard.
My tasting concluded it was not quite the equal of the 2018 but maintains Graveyard's ranking alongside Penfolds Grange and the Henschke Hill of Grace in the hierarchy of Australian red wines.
Saturday's event in the in the barrel hall of the McDonalds Road, Pokolbin, winery was compered by now-retired Brokenwood chief and this month's Hunter Valley Living Legend of Wine Iain Riggs and guests were treated not only to the new Graveyard but a lineup of wines from the museum cellars.
In the wake of Iain's retirement, Brokenwood's winery is in the hands of senior winemaker Stuart Hordern and winemaker Kate Sturgess.
Along with the 2019 Graveyard Brokenwood has also just released its $100-a-bottle 2019 Rayner Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz, $75 2019 Indigo Vineyard Beechworth Shiraz, $66 2014 Sunshine Vineyard Hunter Semillon and $66 2020 Stanleigh Park Vineyard Hunter Chardonnay.
All are available at brokenwood.com.au and the Pokolbin winery.
The latter wine is from bought-in grapes grown on the silt flats of Black Creek in Wilderness Road, Pokolbin, and is a tribute to the Brokenwood winery team's impeccable response to the 2020 smoke taint-plagued vintage.
Summarising the 2021 vintage, Stuart Hordern says La Nina made itself felt in the past summer, with Pokolbin recording 1030 millimetres of rain up to December 31.
This was in dramatic contrast to the leadup to the 2020 vintage in which only 382 millimetres of rain came in calendar year 2019 making it the driest on record and hit by unprecedented heat and catastrophic bushfires all along Australia's east coast.
Stuart says Hunter vintage 2021 was "close to the edge" when there was 170 millimetres of rain in December followed by 77 millimetres in January.
"Thankfully the rain stopped and the sun came out to bring good hot weather which dried out the vine canopy and kept botrytis at bay the result being that 2021 semillon has the best natural chemistry I have seen in my 12 vintages at Brokenwood," he said.
2019 GRAVEYARD EXCELS
THIS beautiful Brokenwood 2019 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz has 13.5% alcohol, bright garnet hues and forest floor scents. Intense blackcurrant flavour zips onto the front palate, the middle palate shows plum, bramble jelly, spice, coffee cream chocolate and supple vanillin oak characters and the finish has spearminty tannins.
DRINK WITH: cherry-glazed roast duck.
AGEING: 18 years.
RATING: 5.5 stars
FROM soil that once grew the grapes of the famed Lindeman's Hunter whites, this Brokenwood 2014 Sunshine Vineyard Semillon is from re-established vines and is pale straw and lemon curd and lanolin-scented. It has invigorating lime front-palate flavour, middle-palate green apple, gunmetal and toast and honey elements and a flinty acid finish.
DRINK WITH: oysters.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5 stars
McLAREN VALE INTENSITY
THE McLaren Vale Brokenwood 2019 Rayner Vineyard Shiraz is from a marque launched by Brokenwood in 1993and this 2019 has 14.5% alcohol, deep purple hues and berry pastille aromas. The front palate shows plush plum flavour, the middle palate Maraschino cherry, briar, dark chocolate and cedary oak and the finish has ferric tannins.
DRINK WITH: lamb crown roast.
AGEING: 10 years.
RATING: 5 stars
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