If you are a fan of those huge big and bold Barossa reds, then you should stop reading now. On the other hand if you have got to that stage where you are chasing wines that are more about elegance, finesse and restrained power then have I got a winery for you.
Levantine Hill winery in Yarra Valley’s Coldstream has been knocking out wines for only a handful of years now, but already they have built a name with wines that have two keywords – elegance and finesse.
The winery has quickly built that reputation around high end reds, and in those few short years they have managed to add award after award to their bulging and groaning trophy cabinet. The latest award coming only a few weeks ago at the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show where their Albus white blend took the trophy for best in class. All those awards, along with the quality of the wines, have helped drive demand to the point where supply is well and truly exceeded by demand.
Their flagship Samantha’s Paddock red blend now sits at an RRP of $125, I’ve recently commented that I believe within the next decade you will see that price exceed the $300 mark and their Syrah and Pinot won’t be too far behind that mark. I’ve also mentioned that I think their wines would make great wines for the savvy wine investor or someone with a particular special year to celebrate, much like people grab Grange, John Riddoch or Hill of Grace for the same reason.
Levantine Hill is the brainchild of well-known Melbourne businessman Elias “Eli” Jreissati and his wife Colleen. Together the pair spent a decade searching the Victorian countryside for a place to build their dream vineyard, and then spent countless hours visiting cellar doors around the world in the name of research. The vineyard now boasts a super exclusive $5000/night homestead B & B that comes with a 2500 bottle cellar, a truffiére in the natural amphitheatre between the two hillside vineyards that make up Levantine’s grounds.
This year will see the winery open their new cellar door and restaurant, teaming up with chef Teage Ezard (of Melbourne’s ezard and Gingerboy) in a fabulous building that was designed by the team behind the award winning MONA in Tasmania. If you are a foodie keep an eye out for the reviews as that combination of the Jreissati’s and Ezard’s passion for excellence and focus on quality will see big things happen here.
But it all means nought if you don’t have the wine making talent.
To fill that space Levantine Hill snagged Paul Bridgeman from Yarra Yering in September 2013. In Bridgeman the team have grabbed a gun winemaker whose expertise in small batch winemaking fits perfectly with the Jreisserati’s pursuit of quality, to have Levantine Hill’s wines recognised as some of the very best in Australia and the world.
I rolled out the samples I was sent recently at a Wine Show Judges dinner as I wanted to see if others thought the class and value were there as much as I did. Much to my surprise those two keys words were bandied around while we tasted the range – finesse and elegance, along with the words structure, smart oak handling and clever.
These are smart wines, you can taste the quality of fruit used in the range, driven by that choice of a superb site and that drive and determination in pursuit of quality.
Some of the range:
Levantine Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 – the blend spends around 5months on oak, a mix of new and seasoned French oak, which gives it a texture that you often don’t find in SBS blends, plus this light oak work will give it the ability to age. Its 74% Sauvignon Blanc and 26% Semillon, it’s got aromas of green melon, preserved lemon and light lacing of vanilla. On the tongue it’s smooth, creamy yet with a textural grainy-ness that I really enjoyed, finishing with a dry woody finish. RRP $35
Levantine Hill Chardonnay 2014 – handpicked, hand sorted and whole bunch pressed and then spending ten months in premium French oak barrels, there’s that no expense spared bit coming through again. This stood up well against some premium French Chard’s and showed wonderful interplay between the acid and the fruit, allowing the fruit to shine. A little extra time spent in a cellar will see this become a damned classy wine. RRP $80
Levantine Hill Pinot Noir 2013 – probably the wine that has garnered more awards and accolades than any other in the range. Three separate vineyards were picked and aged as separate parcels before they were blended. Spice, traces of beetroot, earthy notes and leather with loads of dark red berries leap from the glass, on the tongue there it shows just pure elegance and subtlety. The French oak gives the wine a touch of spice as it trickles down your throat. It’s not a huge Pinot, it’s on the lighter side, but it’s that sheer elegance that made it stand out from the crowd at the tasting, and it will only develop complexity with time in a cellar. RRP $80
Levantine Hill Syrah 2013 – the winery has chosen to go with the old-world name for Shiraz here, and I think it lets you know that you won’t be getting one of those big Aussie reds, its more elegant cool climate than big ballsy Barossa. Medium bodied with great flavours and intensity, its savoury with lovely deft spices and earthiness, lovely fruit sweetness with fine, silky tannins. It already tastes like it has a few years on it, and it will only get better and will carry for at least the next 15 years. Impressive wine. RRP $80