The first release of this Icon Wine, since the exceptional 2014 vintage.
The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz was named after original plans for the site which was to be a cemetery within Pokolbin, however it was never used as such. The first single vineyard selection for the Graveyard Vineyard was in 1983. Originally planted with Shiraz and Cabernet, the heavy clay soil resulted in vintages of low yield but with extraordinary concentration of flavour in the berries, providing a distinctive and premium wine style.
The Hunter Valley has a long history of wet years being followed immediately by scorchers, 1997 – 1998, 2002 – 2003, and 2004 – 2005. The feature of these years is the previous year has a wet autumn, dry winter followed by a very hot summer. Another feature is the very high quality of Shiraz.
We had 95% of our Shiraz picked before the extreme heat of the weekend 10th to 12th February 2017 that saw the temperature hit 44, 47 and 45C over the three-day period – staff and vines survived. This is our flagship release from a wonderful collection of 2017 Hunter Valley Shiraz wines from Brokenwood. All are characterised by deep colour and lifted ripe fruit.
Processing started with 3-4 day cold soaking, then a 4-5 day ferment at 26-28C. The vineyard is on loam soil and gives a more floral character than those in red soils. The oak regime for this wine is 100% French, no new oak.
Ripe fruit notes of dark plum and cherry along with background vanillin oak. Rich in colour with deep red tints, due to the low yield and low juice-to-skin ratio. For this wine, mostly large format puncheons and a 3000L cask are used. Dry ripe tannins give perfect structure and carry the sweet fruit right to the back palate. An impressive wine, which is a great follow on from the 2014 vintage. Subtle but powerful.
Located in the foothills of the Hunter Valley’s Brokenback Ranges, Brokenwood was originally zoned as a cricket ground for the local community before being acquired by three self-professed weekend winemakers in 1970. Tony Albert, John Beeston and James Halliday were Sydney-based solicitors looking for somewhere to pursue a wine hobby when they established Brokenwood, the first vintage of which was picked in 1973.
The famed ‘Graveyard Vineyard’ was the vacant lot next door, named so because council planners originally designated it (but never utilised it), as a cemetery. So it too was acquired by Brokenwood in 1978 and remains the sole source of grapes for the label’s flagship Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz.
In 1982 Brokenwood expanded into white wine which coincided with the arrival of Chief Winemaker Iain Riggs. To this day, white wine continues to be a large part of Brokenwood's total production. From its humble beginnings, Brokenwood has grown to be an internationally recognised wine brand, with the flagship wines - Graveyard Shiraz and the ILR Semillon - being highly sought after each vintage. They have also expanded their vineyard holdings, with sites in Beechworth and McLaren Vale, as well as their traditional Hunter vineyards.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
One of Australia's icon wines, the vines 49yo. The decision not to use any new French oak, and to limit the alcohol to 13.5% has resulted in a wine with a unique sense of place. It is also superbly balanced, dark fruits married to superfine tannins, another feature of a classic medium-bodied Hunter shiraz. I'm sure that Maurice O'Shea would approve of these wines.
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Very deep, bright, bold purple colour, with a youthful smoky-charcuterie, slightly reductive bouquet. The wine is leaner than the '14 and just as firm, loaded with tannins. It's dense, chewy, thickly-textured and long. A massive wine and ultra-impressive. Gorgeous, despite the sulphides, and long-term.
An exceptional and warm vintage has delivered a mighty Graveyard with a super complex nose that offers rich dark plums and berries with a wealth of rich, meaty black olives and assertive tannins. The red-plum flavors thread long through polished, clear-cut tannins. First release since 2014. Complex.
A decade later, off the back of a couple of drizzly years, 2017 was somewhat of a scorcher - which typically makes for an excellent Shiraz harvest in the Hunter. Yet to be released, the ’17 Graveyard Shiraz is vibrant and alive with hot pink and ruby hues that’s nigh on neon! Bright, ripe red fruit notes are accompanied by musk and spice, with big, moisture-sucking, clasping tannins. It will retain incredible line and length for decades to come.
ANDREW GRAHAM - OZWINEREVIEW.COM
Thirty vintages down and looking fine. The 45 year old Graveyard Vineyard is just another block up near to the winery – you can drive past and never know – but it’s a tough site with heavy clay soils. Only the top part makes it into Graveyard, and even then, it’s a wine only released in certain vintages. This is the first Graveyard Shiraz since 2014, although there is a 2018 and 2019 in the works, and it’s a ripe, warm year wine, but with surprising acidity. Actually, you just don’t expect it to be so moderate given the intensity. What tips this from ‘fine, good quality red’ into icon territory, however, is the hint of black wildness. A whiff of black olive. A licoricey edge to the blackberry and currant fruit. Something different. Some whole bunches in the mix? Whatever, this has x-factor. To be completely honest, I wasn’t bowled over when my glass of Graveyard when it was first poured and wandered off to try some other Brokenwood reds (FWIW the ’18 Indigo Pinot was a bit diffuse and the ’15 Tallawanta Shiraz has real complexity despite the tough year). I then came back to the Graveyard, and every sip lobbed up something new. The best years are well off, but the depth, the latent complexity, the hard-to-define sensation of special wine brings you back. Best drinking: Brokenwood’s Iain Riggs has said before that this hits its strides after 10 years. No change with the 2017.