Just had a wonderful tasting Chez Yapp from our new Australian winemaker Guy Lyons at Forest Hill Vineyards, who came over especially as he happened to be passing nearby. Well, he's spent last month learning about the Riesling harvest and vinification in Germany, which, in Australian terms of scale, is pretty 'nearby'!
I was asked in February of this year if I could clear my desk in three weeks as Yapp Brothers would like me to go to Australia. I asked if there was a return ticket, and, upon finding there was, I was delighted to accept the quest. The remit was to find out a little more about the Western Australian wines and report home with findings of something suited to the Yapp ethos of being representative of the terroir, well-made and interesting, but at a price that's regarded as “great value for money”. We did indeed taste some stunning wines from the famous estates of Margaret River, but two relatively unknown areas stood out for me, namely Geographe and the Great Southern Region. We tasted several cracking examples of various grape varieties in both regions, and found the standard of winemaking to be very impressive.
So often, one instinctively knows when something hits the spot, and so it proved on my visit and tutored tasting with Guy Lyons at Forest Hill Vineyard of Mount Barker. It turned out that many of his European friends were winemakers who'd been suppliers to Yapp for years - Clape of Cornas, and Jean-Louis Chave of Hermitage to name a couple. Indeed he'd shared a bottle of Chave Hermitage Red 1966 with Jean-Louis on his last visit to France. When I realised that Guy's style of winemaking at Forest Hill was one of dry-farming and minimal intervention, and his wines tasted fabulous, there was only one question to ask - please could we do business, as it seems were a perfect fit.
Today was the culmination of that visit with a staff-tasting at Yapp HQ in Mere of his Estate wines of Chardonnay 2015, Shiraz 2014 and Cabernet-Sauvignon 2013, which we now proudly list at Yapp and will be included in our 2018 list due out in February. We also tasted some Riesling and Malbec for consideration too.
Here's some of my impressions in brief note form:
Forest Hill Vineyard: 'Estate' Chardonnay 2015 - Pale straw, aromas of white stone fruit, apple, pear, spice. Palette similar with citrus. Rich & textured. Decent acidity. Long elegant finish.
Forest Hill Vineyard: 'Estate' Shiraz 2014 – Prominent nose of black hedgerow fruit with plum, spice, herb and cloves. Elegant and very fresh (not cloying) palate with blackberry to fore. long savoury finish.
Forest Hill Vineyard: 'Estate' Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Rich, full nose of cassis and blackcurrant fruit. Palate – Liquorice, blueberry, redcurrants, hint chocolate & even woodland floor. (broken twigs!). Decent length and acidity.
It will be a pleasure to be able to introduce these wines to Yapp customers in the next couple of months, as they will suit nicely with Christmas fare, so the timing could not have been better.
Many thanks Guy for dropping in, and look forward to a flourishing, fruitful partnership ahead.