Two very nice wines from a new (to me, at least) producer in the Yarra Valley, Andrew Marks’ The Wanderer. The story of Australian wine isn’t actually about big brands, over-ripeness and critter labels – it’s a country with many hundreds of good small producers, many of whom are making very interesting wines. Marks is a good example of a winegrower aiming at elegance and complexity, not power.
The Wanderer Pinot Noir 2008 Yarra Valley
13% alcohol. The first thing you notice about this wine is that it is a very pale cherry colour, Few Burgundians are brave enough to make Pinot Noir this light in colour, but Marks has been careful not to overextract, and with Pinot Noir, the pale ones are often the best. It’s made from a single vineyard site in the lower Yarra near Tarrawarra, and the fruit is destemmed but not crushed, leaving whole berries, which are cold soaked in open fermenters before inoculation and hand plunging. A third of the blend goes to new French oak; unfiltered and unfined. Subtle complex cherry fruit nose with some earthy, spicy notes. The palate is nicely textured with some smooth cherry fruit and subtle spice and earth characters. Nicely complex with real elegance. An understated wine with nice purity; it could develop nicely. 92/100 (£30 will be available from www.auswineonline.co.uk)
The Wanderer Shiraz 2008 Yarra Valley
From a 30 year old single-vineyard in Dixon’s Creek. Fermented in open fermenters with some stems. Aged in 20% new oak; neither fined nor filtered. Interesting stuff. Initially a little reduced on the nose, with some spicy, earthy notes in the background, but the dominant theme is sweet fruit with cherry and raspberry notes as well as lovely elegance and a smooth texture. Quite pure; like a very ripe, rich Pinot Noir. May develop in interesting ways. 92/100 (£30 will be available from www.auswineonline.co.uk)