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The wines of Jasper Hill, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia

Drummonds Lane, Heathcote, Victoria 3523, Australia
Tel: (03) 5433 2528 Fax: (03) 5433 3143

Ron and Elva Laughton’s Jasper Hill makes some of Australia’s most individual and compelling Shiraz wines. Beginning in 1975, they were pioneers in Victoria’s Heathcote region. They have three vineyards. The first, Emily’s Paddock, is 3 hectares and is mostly Shiraz with 5% Cabernet Franc. The second, Georgia’s Paddock, is larger, and has 12 ha of Shiraz, 3 ha of Riesling and a hectare each of Semillon and Nebbiolo which are now just coming on line. The third vineyard is some 20 km distant at Cornella, still within the Heathcote region, which has 4 ha of Grenache.

The geology here is important. The vineyards are planted on a strip of Cambrian soil that is found between two faults. The predominant soil type is a deep red/brown gravelly loam that allows low vigour vine growth without irrigation. Because the vineyards are at an altitude of some 300 m, this is a relatively cool climate area for Australia, and harvest is usually in April.

They’ve been organic and unirrigated since their inception, but since 1998 Ron has also been employing biodynamics, although he won’t put this on the label because he doesn’t want to use it as a marketing gimmick. No synthetic chemicals or fertilizers have ever been applied to the vines.

In the winery they take a minimal intervention approach. No acidification is necessary: this is rare in Australia. The goal is to produce wines that reflect their terroirs. I'm impressed.

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2002
Forward nose shows intense, minty berry fruit – sweet and alluring, and precisely delineated. Lovely weight of pure spicy fruit on the palate with a nice, spicy tannic structure. Really lovely and intense. Not overblown despite the impressive concentration. Gorgeous. Very good/excellent 94/100

Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz/Cabernet Franc 2002
Just 300 cases made. Juicy ripe, pure berry fruit nose. Distinctive minty, spicy palate with quite tight, fresh fruit and good acidity. Smooth, firm tannins and a spicy finish. Very good/excellent 92/100

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Riesling 2003
Very aromatic herby, lemony nose. The palate is rich and fruity with some fruit sweetness and a herby edge. Nicely complex. Very good/excellent 90/100  

see also: Index of producer profiles; tasting notes of Australian wines

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