Jasper Hill vineyards (Victoria, Australia)
Anyone doubting the impact of climate change on viticulture should speak to wine-maker Emily McNally at Jasper Hill Vineyard in Heathcote, who described the 2020 vintage as 'horrendous', due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall. Her vineyards saw their lowest yields to date since her parents first planted them in the 1970s and she had insufficient fruit to produce her Nebbiolo or flagship 'Emily's Paddock' Shiraz. She hopes that severe pruing and some much needed rain may mitigate things this year and at the time of writing it is 'looking very good out in the vineyards.'
Although best known for their acclaimed reds, Emily and her husband Nick also produce an excellent Riesling from from a 3-hectare parcel of 'dry grown' vines. With a golden colour, lime leaf and kerosene scents and a zesty citrus-edged palate underscored by fresh acidity, it drinks well from release and makes a fine partner to spicy Asian dishes.
The principal wine (in terms of production) at Jasper Hill is the 'Georgia's Paddock' Shiraz which is grown on a 12 hectare vineyard that yields at 20 hectolitres per under 'normal' conditions. With a dark purple robe, intense blueberry and blackcurrant aromas and rich core of ripe autum fruit with peppery undertones and fine-grained tannins, it merits decanting and can cellar well for 10-20 years.
The aforementioned 'Emily's Paddock' Shiraz comes from a small plot of low-yielding vines and normally includes around 5% Cabernet Franc. It has a wealth of the estate's signature 'sleek fruit' appeal but is complex, concentrated and ageworthy; so really needs 3-5 years bottle age to reveal its full breadth.
A third Shiraz, called 'La Pleiade' comes from a 20 year-old parcel of vines planted in a joint venture with family friend and veteran vigneron Michel Chapoutier. The enterprising Old and New World partnership yields a dense, dark, fruit-laden wine with terrific delineation and (at least) a decade's ageing potential.
When yields permit, Jasper Hill also produce an elegant Nebbiolo that has a rose and wild herb bouquet and pitchy palate of ripe hedgerow berries supported by supple tannins.
Up until the 2018 vintage Emily produced a good value negociant-style bottling called 'Occam's Razor' Shiraz, from fruit contracted in from a neighbouring vineyard. Unfortunately, those grapes are now being deployed elsewhere so this might be the last sighting from the original source. It makes a great introduction to her oeuvre with spice and black pepper notes, a smooth dark fruit palate and a long, elegant finish.