TarraWarra Estate was established in 1983 by the Besen family on the land originally owned by the founder of The Age , David Syme. Nearby, the Cistercian monks established their order, but if the monks at TarraWarra Abbey had drawn on other inspirations of their Trappist cousins, then we could have knocked back some Healesville beer on this beautiful Sunday afternoon at the picturesque TarraWarra Estate and Museum of Art. I have visited Healesville many times but somehow never dropped by the winery. Once I get this far into Yarra Glen, it’s always to the animal sanctuary then a stop at White Rabbit, and after a few beers, the time to head home always comes too soon.
The winery is rated 5 star by Wine Companion, and I do have good impressions of their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs at previous tastings. A recent visit afforded me the opportunity to view the winery and a more comprehensive taste through of their wines.
TarraWarra Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2013
$30. I was not expecting this, a Rhone blend produced in the Yarra? The warm and dry conditions of the 2013 vintage probably aided the ripening of these varietals too. Each variety was grafted in 2006 to rootstocks which are between 15 to 20 years old. Wine was fermented in a stainless steel tank and older 500L French oak puncheons. 215 dozen produced. An impressive effort. This possesses a very representative aroma profile of honeysuckle, bees wax, caramelised pear and sweet spice. 12% alc. A good mouthfeel with a balance of acidity and fruitweight. Would be nice with a rocket, blue cheese and chorizo salad. Drink now – 2018. 88.
TarraWarra Estate Chardonnay 2012
$28. Fruit from 10-27 year old vines off multiple parcels across the estate. Whole bunch pressed, wine was matured in stainless steel tanks and a mix of French oak barriques and puncheons (15% new). Lovely youthful fragrance, floral notes of lime blossom, grapefruit, minerality. A clean drinking wine, precise fine acidity wrapped against rich lime and grapefruit citrus flavours. 13% alc. However, the finish is does feel rather soft. Drink now – 2017. 90.
TarraWarra Reserve Chardonnay 2012
$50. The Reserve wine is made from the original B, C and D blocks established in 1983. Whole bunch pressed, racked into barrel for completion of fermentation by indigenous yeast over 2 weeks. Aged for 10 months in French oak barriques (25% new) and a mix of 1 and 2-year old barriques and puncheons. Wine from each block was kept separate prior to final composition. An excellent wine with layered complexity on the nose and flavours. Clear pale lemon colour. Lovely fresh creamy, lime blossom, white peach and a touch of finely chopped dill. Med+ to full-bodied white wine, high acidity, loaded with layers of rich fruit flavours. Lime, white peach, mandarin spritz, hints of clove. Long persistent finish. One of the best 2012 Yarra Chardonnays, no doubt a wine for the cellar. Drink now – 2025. 93-94.
TarraWarra Pinot Noir Rosé 2012
$22. Made from fruit off 30-year old Block A vines. Pressed, fermented over 14 days in a stainless steel tank and three months ageing in older French oak puncheons. Very much akin to the Provençal style, this is a dry savoury rosé that can be aged. Clear pale salmon colour. Dry retrained nose of redcurrant, strawberry and spice. Good acidity keeps the fruity body fresh onto a lengthy finish. Slightly chilled, a great summer drink. Drink now. 88.
TarraWarra Estate Pinot Noir 2012
$28. The 2012 estate PN is a great entry level for those unconvinced by this varietal. The fruit was picked from North-facing blocks with vines aged 11-21 years old. Aged in 15% new French oak barriques and puncheons. Clear, med+ ruby-purple colour. Lovely young perfume of red berries, raspberry and cherry. Depth of fragrance suggests slightly earthy, hint of oak. Smooth texture, this is an easy-drinking medium+ bodied wine. Clean fruity acidity with fine tannins. 13.5% alc. Rich clean fruit flavours, nicely rounded mouthfeel. Drink now – 2022+. 91.
TarraWarra H-block Pinot Noir 2011
$40.Usually used as core of the Reserve blend (there is no 2011 Reserve), fruit from low-yielding 26 year old vines. A demonstration of the quality of vines on TarraWarra, this is one of the best Yarra Valley Pinot Noirs from the difficult 2011 vintage. Spent 12 days on skins, fermentation finished in 5 days. Aged in 25% new French oak barriques, 1/2 year old barriques and puncheons. Med- ruby crimson colour. Youthful fragrance of strawberry, sour cherry, forest floor, spiced talc. Smooth texture on this med+ bodied wine, surprisingly fresh and crisp acidity. Fine grainy tannins which impose sufficient grip at this young stage. The richness of the fruit does surprise me, again given the vintage. Strawberry, red currants, sour cherry and spice. Reasonably complex, a fine effort. Drink now – 2022+. 93.
TarraWarra Hunters Red Merlot Shiraz blend 2011
$22 (currently discounted to $16 online). How do these vines achieve ripeness I don’t know. Not in 2011. 10% new French oak, combination of barriques and puncheons. Still, this is a nice blend. A good BBQ wine with flavours of plums and black cherry. The structure is sound, good grippy tannins. Nice milder finish. Thinking roast lamb cutlets. Drink now. 88.
TarraWarra K-block Merlot 2012
$35. This is an Italian clone, low-yielding and grafted onto 20-year old Pinot Noir rootstock. So don’t try to draw comparisons with Bordeaux or Margaret River. Intense black ruby colour, youthful lifted aromas of blackcurrants, mulberries and plum. A lovely easy-drinking fruity Merlot, good acidity and fine tannins. Medium-bodied, flavours of plum, blackcurrants with peppery spice. Pork belly barley stew or rosemary salt-rubbed roasted beef cheeks. Drink now – 2017. 89-90.
TarraWarra J-block Shiraz 2012
$35. Co-fermented with 2% Roussanne, and on the nose it expresses elements of cool-climate Shiraz. Initially fermented in French oak foudres then matured for 18 months in 20% new barriques and puncheons. Intense ruby purple colour. Youthful aromas of red currants, blackberries, white pepper. Slight hint of oak too. Med+ bodied wine, smooth velvet texture, high acidity and supple tannins. Mouthfeel is balanced, ripe fruit flavours of spiced red berries and blackberries. Interesting, should last for quite a few years in the cellar. Drink now – 2022+. 91.