Photography: David Griffen
What a month it has been for Brokenwood Wines with a number of successes worth celebrating!
Our 2017 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz has not only received a Platinum Medal at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards, but is also 1 of 50 wines (judged from 16,500 entries worldwide) to be awarded a Best in Show. Brokenwood's 2013 ILR Reserve Semillon and 2018 Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay received Silver Medals.
McGuigan Wines was also awarded a Best in Show Trophy for its 2013 McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon. The results make the Hunter Valley Australia’s only region to win two Best in Show wines, a significant achievement for the region’s international reputation.
Brokenwood's Managing Director and Chief Winemaker, Iain Riggs AM with McGuigan's Chief Winemaker, Neil McGuigan. Photography: Chris Elfes
“As the oldest grape growing region in Australia it is rewarding to see our two major varieties, Semillon and Shiraz flying the flag for premium Australian wine on the world stage. These are unique wine styles and give due recognition to our tireless grape growers and winemakers.” - Managing Director and Chief Winemaker, Iain Riggs AM.
“What a wonderful result for the Hunter Valley wine industry with two of the best grape varieties from this region being recognised on the world stage. Brokenwood and McGuigan run adjoining properties in the Hunter. As neighbours, we share a healthy rivalry and an immense admiration for each other’s wines, plus Riggsy and I are good mates – we couldn’t be happier for each other” - McGuigan Wines Chief Winemaker, Neil McGuigan
We celebrated the release of our 2017 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz at our annual Graveyard Launch on Saturday, with 330 members attending a long lunch in our Barrel Hall.
Brokenwood’s success also continued this week with our 2018 Hunter Valley Semillon placed in Matthew Jukes’ list of Australia’s Top 100 wines, compiled annually by the UK-based journalist, as well as winning Cellar Door of the Year at the Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards last Thursday night.
We are excited to see what the year ahead has in store for Brokenwood Wines.
See below for an update from our Chief Winemaker and Managing Director, Iain Leslie Riggs on this years' vintage.
The big question leading into vintage was: Could the Hunter Valley score three consecutive great vintages? At the time of writing it looks like the answer is yes! With the 2017 Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz line up about to be released and a couple of 2018 HV Shiraz already in bottle, the thought of a repeat of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 is very exciting indeed. And not just Shiraz - as the Semillons from the trio of years, 2005 to 2007, were outstanding.
Post vintage 2018 rain in February and March of over 200mm allowed some last minute growth ready for winter. Just as well - as the next 5 months saw a miserly 72mm of rain. Early irrigation was essential and rain in the early summer months was needed. January 2019 saw a further 47mm but also extreme heat, with 27 days over 30C and 7 of those over 40C. The western edge of some of the vineyards were slightly scorched.
One of our weather charts shows rainfall from 1919 to 2006, with the average right on 800mm per year. If it is brought up to the century, 1919 to 2018, the average is 798mm. It is interesting to note that the last two decades back to 1999 are responsible for the ever so slight drop. The decade 1999 to 2008 and then 2009 to 1018 shows 693mm and 757mm respectively.
The only certainty that we have in the Hunter Valley is the total unpredictability of our weather.
All our Hunter Valley Semillon will be in the winery this week and because of the dry winter, juice yield is down but juice colour and sugar levels are just fine. Oakey Creek, Trevena and Tallawanta are the pick so far. Brokenwood may pick some Shiraz by week’s end, but seed and skin tannins could ripen a bit more. And if the rain holds off then the week starting 11th February will be all systems go!
The Vineyard team of Katrina and Lucy have done a great job with all the vineyards.
Of our other regions, Cowra is in recovery mode from last year’s devastating hail storm; Orange looks terrific as does the Canberra District. The Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth had a bit of ‘Hunter’ this year with a big rain event before Christmas that dumped 175mm and took out bridges and roads - then back to 40C weather. The Chardonnay is getting very close. McLaren Vale has been hot and dry.
A terrific vintage crew in 2019 and we’ve become somewhat of a Wine Kindergarten rather than a Wine University, with a few ‘sons of’ this year. Jai Harrop (Matt Harrop was our winemaker 1996-98), Ben Dolan (Rob Sticks Dolan of Yarra Valley fame) and Remy Thomas (son of local legend Andrew Thomas) all pitching in for the vintage. Plus Internationals from New Zealand and Canada.