The 2016 vintage was exceptional in Heathcote, with all the makings of our finest yet.
One of our coldest winters in recent memory was followed by a warm and dry spring, with perfect, even set and growth. The warm, dry and consistent conditions prevailed throughout summer, resulting in highly concentrated small berries.
The vintage shows truly classic ‘Heathcote’ character - exceptional concentration and detail, tightly packed savoury tannins, and quintessential gunflint, graphite-like character so unique to the our vineyard, coupled with a spectrum of vibrant fruit flavours. The incredible structure and detail of these wines ensures their longevity.
We have bottled four wines from this remarkable vintage, including two Single Block Releases – Block C & Block F. It has been a long, four year wait for this release of block wines, further reinforcing our high standards with regard to bottling special release wines.
For the first time, we have also released a ‘Shiraz Pressings’. The pressings are the last precious few litres that trickle out of the press as it nears completion. A wine for the long term, the Shiraz Pressings is a firmly structured wine with savoury tannins, and yet incredible perfume and sense of elegance.
Tom Carson, Winemaker
Central Victoria had one of its coldest winters in some time, with low rainfall. Spring was warm and dry. The vines burst into life in September, with fantastic early season growth and development that was typical of recent seasons. The above average maximum temperatures in October encouraged the vines’ early development, these warmer conditions continued throughout the latter part of spring and into summer. December was particularly warm and dry, which had a significant influence on the eventual small berries and light bunches that occurred at harvest. January brought isolated storms, helping to maintain vine health through both atmospheric moisture/rain and cooler overcast ripening temperatures at times.
It was our earliest harvest on record, with the first parcel of Shiraz picked on 4 February and the last on 12 February. The fruit from 2016 was characterised by an exceptionally light crop, tiny berries, excellent tannin structure and concentration.
The Heathcote Estate vineyard was planted in 1999 and is situated on Drummond's Lane, bordering the well-known Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Vineyard.
The vineyard is planted on the slightly undulating, north-facing country on the ancient Cambrian soils which define the heart of the region. This is classic Heathcote terrain - rich red-brown top soil of variable depth, but on average 15 centimetres lying above a sub-soil of clay, small rocks, ‘greenstones’, quartz and rubble.
This is scarcely fertile country, but it is ideal for vines as it has excellent water-holding capacity, without promoting too much vigour. The vast majority of the vineyard is planted to Shiraz (72 acres), with just one block of grenache. There are five clones of shiraz planted - BVRC12, BVRC30, ESA3021, PT23, SA1654, SA1127.
Winemaking is essentially a pretty simple process and there is much talk these days about winemakers who ‘do nothing’. That doesn’t particularly make much sense to us, do nothing, get nothing. We like to describe it more like minimal intervention. A combination of intervening when required, but also backing off when we let nature run it’s course.
It is an evolution and philosophy that we are continually refining and tweaking. This results in subtle modifications of our techniques, such as increased use of whole bunches in the ferments, maturation in large 6,500L oak vats and 500L French oak barrels and shorter barrel ageing times.
Harvested: 6 February
Aspect: North facing slope, easterly inclination
Soil: Deep red clay over bedrock, ancient Cambrian stone and quartz rock visible
Barrel: 11 months. 500L French oak puncheons. 20% new
The grapes were hand picked and fermented in traditional open fermenters after gentle destemming, with some batches receiving whole bunches. The wines were then pressed and transferred into French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation (500L puncheons). Racked twice during maturation and bottled February 2017.
Intensely coloured and deeply scented with blacks fruits, spice, background pepper and plummy richness. The palate is classic C Block – rich, expansive and a deep core of powdery Heathcote tannins. Plush and rich, but long and fine.