Murdoch Hill's vineyards are located behind the township of Oakbank in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. Producing excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. There has been a lot of blood sweat and tears along the way. Now, with 20 vintages under their belts the results speak for themselves. Winemaker Michael Downer was awarded Young Gun of Wine, 2017.
Their Phaeton Pinot Noir is a standout in their range. The wine is sourced from the high altitude Piccadilly Valley of the Adelaide Hills, from vines planted in the mid 90's, the high elevation and large diurnal shift in temperature provide a very cool environment to produce quality Pinot Noir.
The first vineyard is from the town of Piccadilly below Mt Lofty and provides pretty aromatics with a fine delicate line of fruit whilst the second vineyard in Uraidla on a steep east facing slope on a rather shallow hard soils naturally yields very low to provide structure and persistence.
The wine has beautiful raspberry, clove and spice aromatics with subtle red fruits supported by textural round palate with very integrated elegant sappy tannins that is supported by the depth of fruit.
Adelaide Hills is buzzing with change and innovation and Murdoch Hill is a producer that is now at the forefront of this action. It’s worth pointing out that Murdoch Hills is not a new player in the Australian wine scene - the Estate vineyards were planted by the Downer family in 1998. But it has been the return of the family’s youngest member, Michael Downer, to take over the winemaking duties in 2012, that has created the excitement here. Pumped from stages at Vietti (Piedmont), Best's Great Western and Shaw+Smith, Downer has wasted little time in applying his experience and passion to his family vineyard practices and winemaking. The most obvious changes he has implemented have been bringing the winemaking in house (it was previously outsourced to a neighbouring winery) and the creation of the Artisan range of single-parcel, minimal intervention bottlings. Tapping into the freshness gifted by his high-altitude vines, while keeping winemaking artefact to a minimum, Downer’s approach has led to a range of juicy, vibrant wines that highlight the detail and freshness of each site. We are not the only ones who have been following this young winemaker’s progress with interest - Downer was a Young Guns of Wine finalist in 2014 and the joint winner of the ‘Winemaker’s Choice’ in 2015. His wines have also been getting great reviews and a number of gongs in recent times (including two wines in the top ten at the Adelaide Review Hot 100 last year). The winemaking specs include wild yeast ferments, various degrees of whole bunch, extended skin contact and more and more older wood in the aging. Bottling is without any fining or filtration. In terms of the vineyards, the original 1998 Estate plantings are situated around the winery, nestled in the undulating hills of Oakbank. The shallow red loam soils here are shot through with varying levels of schist and ironstone. Varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to the home vineyards, Downer also works with a range of nearby sites in Lobethal and Basket Range and the high altitude Uraidla vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley. These sources offer Downer a broad range of flavours, structures and textures with which to do his thing.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
Pretty, floral, just ripe red cherry/berry perfume, flighty and flirty, fresh and just barely-there savoury and herbal. Succulent to taste, brisk and crisp in tannin and acidity, little amaro licks, fine web of tannins. Satiny nature to the wine despite that rub of very good tannin.'