Rick's Newsletter


Jeremy Oliver's Wine of the Year - 2012 Estate Vineyard Shiraz!

Australian Wine Annual 2015 - Giaconda Estate Shiraz 2012 (98 points)

Since 1999 Rick Kinzbrunner has been fashioning cutting-edge cool climate Australian shiraz. Fifteen years ago there weren’t too many Victorians making this variety into a style we perhaps more associate with the northern Rhône Valley, but Kinzbrunner has always drawn inspiration from the wines he most enjoys drinking. So until 2008, the only Shiraz from Giaconda was the deliciously perfumed, floral, spicy and savoury Warner Vineyard Shiraz, which has been continually sourced from a sloping, north-facing section of the Warner Vineyard, 6.5 km from Beechworth and located at a marginally cooler, higher site than that of the Giaconda Vineyard itself. For many years I have rated this as a 5-Star wine.

It took a long time for Kinzbrunner to plant shiraz at Giaconda, since for the first decade and a half at his Beechworth site he was more concerned at matching different parcels of the property with chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. But the consistent quality from the Warner site convinced him that a warmer, north-facing plot at the top of the property was just the place to plant two acres of shiraz, with Hermitage well and truly in his sights. In itself this was a radical but confident decision, because Kinzbrunner initially chose the predominantly south-facing property to reduce the impact of heat on its elevated but still warmish location.

Retarded by the extended drought of the first decade this century, the young shiraz vines struggled to develop and produce a crop, but in doing so dug their feet deep into the site’s granitic loam soils, which overlie decomposed gravel and clay. But when they came, the results were astonishing. The first wine from the new shiraz vines was the 2008 vintage, quickly affirming the site’s potential with what I described at the time as a ‘super Rhône’. It quickly revealed the layered, meaty and mineral attributes we now expect from the site. Kinzbrunner fine-tuned winemaking regimes for the next two vintages, exploring means by which to express the potential of the site’s terroir into anexpression of shiraz fit to rival the Rhône’s elite. Very closed and reductive in their youth, cloaked by layers of oak and tannin, the 2010 and 2011 releases delivered quality, but not enough to meet Kinzbrunner’s expectations, or even indeed the Warner Vineyard Shiraz in 2010. All that has changed with the 2012 vintage. Fermented in tank with a small proportion of viognier, it was matured in the mineshaft-like cellar under the Giaconda vineyard for 22 months inside French oak barrels, around a third of which were new. From its earliest days it looked special. Thankfully, it is safely into bottle for its real journey now to begin.

I like the fact that winemakers like Rick Kinzbrunner, Phillip Jones, Joe Grilli and Roman Bratasiuk are so honest and focused on their extraordinary ambitions. From the outset, Kinzbrunner started this project to make a wine worthy of the greatest sites of the northern Rhône, and he didn’t mind who he told about it. The clearest ambitions can carry with them the highest risk, but the risk can bring the reward.

In this case, the reward is a wine that does what Kinzbrunner has done before with chardonnay, and is also promising to do again with nebbiolo. It is taking the perceptions of what has been considered possible with Australian wine, spinning them about and exposing them for their shameful lack of imagination and  inspiration. That’s what great winemakers do and why the Giaconda Estate Shiraz 2012 is such a worthy Wine of the Year.

Read more - 2012 Estate Vineyard Shiraz >

Australia's 10 best winemakers

In 2003 we dared to ask the question: who are Australia's best winemakers?

Who got the pulse racing, the lips smacking in anticipation of not just a wine but something magical and truly uplifting in a glass?

The results showed a mix of old-school, technological brilliance and new wave, with riesling winemaker extraordinaire John Vickery of Leo Buring fame in first place followed by Petaluma founder Brian Croser and chardonnay master Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda.

Today, we revisit the question.

Jeni Port, The Age Epicure

One of the most wondrous reds I’ve ever stuck in my gob

One day I happened on Giaconda’s 2012 Warner Vineyard Shiraz, from Beechworth. I stopped dead in my tracks just smelling this wine. It smelled so good and so distinctive, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. The fruit characters reminded immediately and distinctly of the 2011 wine Jamsheed made off this same vineyard – this same Warner Vineyard in Beechworth. Different approach and techniques, yet the vineyard was shining through.

This was one of the most wondrous reds I’ve ever stuck in my gob. Giaconda, Warner, Beechworth: simple words that might resonate through time. When smells, tastes and words interleave, names do mean something.

Giaconda Warner Vineyard Shiraz 2012

Pure raspberries and blackberries, gentle pepper and other transitory souk spices. A palate bursting with fruit,relieved by the finest, building, black coal-edged tannins. Long, so long. 98/100.

Tim White, Australian Financial Review



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