2016 Sandalford Prendiville Reserve Shiraz
The 2015 vintage in Margaret River started with an unusually warm winter and plenty of rainfall, followed by mild and windy conditions in November, resulting in a prolonged flowering period. This changed in the second half of December to ideal ripening weather, dry and sunny without any extreme heat events. These mild conditions meant the grapes held their natural acid balance, with full flavour development at lower sugar levels. All fruit was disease free.
The Sandalford Estate Wilyabrup vineyard in Margaret River is one of the largest and oldest vineyards in this famed region having been originally planted in 1972. The vineyard is located in the northern sub-region of Margaret River known as Wilyabrup, which is around 4 degrees Celsius warmer on average than the southern parts of Margaret River. This ensures optimal ripeness and generosity in the wines produced. There are five old-vine Shiraz blocks on the Estate. These are the oldest Shiraz vines in the Margaret River Region. Two of these blocks have been utilised to make this wine. As with the other Prendiville wines, this wine will only be made in exceptional years and only in limited volumes. At optimal ripeness the fruit for this wine, as with all the Prendiville wines, was hand-picked and transferred to small bins for transport to the winery. The two blocks were then treated slightly differently. The first block had 10% whole bunches added into the fermenter, the other was all from de-stemmed and crushed fruit. Both blocks were inoculated with a selected yeast strain and fermented in our new small batch open fermenters. The traditional method of pumping over was employed during fermentation twice per day to facilitate colour, flavour and tannin extraction. After the completion of Malolactic Fermentation, the wine was aged in new and 1 year old French oak barriques. After 15 months of barrel maturation only the best eighteen barriques were put aside for this release of the Prendiville Shiraz.
Meet the maker
Growing up on a wheat and sheep farm is not your traditional start to a winemaking career. However, it was driving through the Swan Valley on the way to Perth that started my interest in grapes. They were always beautiful and green quite a contrast to the dry and dusty terrain from the farm. During my final year of studies at the University of Adelaide, I commenced working at Petaluma in the Adelaide Hills, and this seeded my love of Riesling. After 18 months, I decided to explore the world of wine and for the next several years was a flying winemaker, working alternate vintages in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the north, this took me to France (Languedoc, Cognac & a couple of days in Bordeaux) and many times to Oregon, USA. This is where my love of Pinot was born. Back in Australia, I also explored Margaret River, Geographe, Clare Valley, SA and Macedon Ranges, Vic. In January 2007, coming back to WA, I joined Sandalford as Winemaker and in December 2012, was offered the Senior Winemaker position. To talk about my winemaking philosophy, is to first understand the vineyards. My role is to let the grapes shine and ensure they reflect the vineyard site they're from. The fruit source for all of our wines, are paramount to their success, and I'm incredibly lucky to have one of the oldest vineyards in Margaret River to work with.
Dark cherry red.
Concentrated black currants and blueberry fruits with underlying spices - cinnamon, vanilla and hints of Szechuan pepper.
Elegant and generous on the palate. This wine is full of blueberries, black currants and mulberries with savoury notes of cedar and mocha. Structurally, the fine grain tannins and acid work together, leading to a long supple finish. This wine holds more in reserve and will only improve with age, but is lovely to drink now. If you can, give the wine some time in the glass and watch as it opens up. Cellaring potential of ten to fifteen years plus from the vintage date.
The mild spring conditions merged into a warm and dry start to summer, with the vines on track slightly earlier than normal. These conditions were interrupted in mid-January 2016, with 70mm of rain falling in the vineyard due to a tropical rain event. With this moisture came the challenge of increased disease pressure on the fruit - 2 weeks out from the white harvest (leading to a very stressed Viticulturalist and Winemaker). Meticulous Vineyard management prevented any occurrence of disease and saw all the fruit through to optimum maturity. For the reds, it gave them a much appreciated drink in the lead up to harvest in late March. Despite the challenge, all fruit harvested was of exceptional quality, showing intense varietal characters.