Previously labeled 'Graillot Project' Syrah No. 2, the 2016 vintage was the last vintage of this wine to be bottled under the Graillot labelling. The overall feeling was that the time was right to emphasise the vineyard and region over the makers.
Further, with the wines (from 2018) now made at Place of Changing Winds, the two Heathcote Syrah wines can now be seen as part of the Place of Changing Winds family.
This 2017 vintage was raised by winemaker Luke Lambert. The vintage gave exceptionally pure, balanced fruit, which is borne out in the quality of this release.
All the fruit is hand harvested and the 2017 was blended from spontaneous 100% whole bunch ferments. Mostly large format, neutral oak (predominantly Stockinger) and no sulphur used through the ageing.
A lighter, more medium-bodied approach to Shiraz, than your usual Heathcote offering. Red-berry fruits, with a gamey, meaty note and sprinklings of white pepper. Floral notes provide lift and prettiness, but the intrigue factor is the savoury palate. The influence of the Northern Rhone is clear.
Graillot Australia is a collaboration between Northern Rhône icon Alain Graillot and our own Robert Walters. The venture begins and ends with a special 3.3 hectare plot in Heathcote. The site is an east-facing, close-planted (5,500 vines per hectare) hillside vineyard in the Mount Camel Ranges “sub-region”. It’s a slow-ripening site with very rocky soils and a neutral pH. Here, full physiological ripeness occurs at 12-13 degrees potential alcohol. Tongue firmly in cheek, this block has been nicknamed ‘Clos Graillot’. The ‘Clos’ has a specific location, clone and now set of vineyard practices, which we believe strongly differentiates it from the rest of the site. Nonetheless, it is clearly a terrific vineyard in general, and we believe that the cooler sites along this strip, in the Mount Camel Ranges, is capable of producing some of Australia’s finest (elegant) Syrah-based wines. Alain’s role in this project has been critical – despite the limitations of distance. In fact, it is patently clear (to everyone who has been involved in the project) that Graillot Australia could not have achieved anywhere near the quality or style of wine that it has managed without Alain’s direct involvement. His input into the vineyard, winemaking and blending had an immediate and major impact and has grown more impactful over the years. Much of his advice has directly contradicted the guidance the team had previously received, most notably in the areas of vineyard management, barrel ageing, when and how to bottle and blending. The simple fact is that without Alain, this project would not succeed. As you would expect, the winemaking has evolved since the first release, from the 2010 vintage. Significantly, today a good percentage of whole bunches are used in the fermentations, and since Luke Lambert joined the team in 2014 the wines now include some pure carbonic Syrah, and no sulphur is added pre-ferment. By all accounts, the current release wines (2014) are the most balanced, earth-to-glass wines the project has made; for a number of reasons – not least Graillot and Luke Lambert’s influences – the wines are more open, perfumed anJustify Fulld seductive than past releases. Apart from this, the winemaking has remained fairly constant: two separate parcels are hand-picked, a combination of whole bunch and destemmed fruit is transferred to open top fermenters of various sizes (from 1-tonne 'flower pots' to 4-tonne fermenters); wild-yeast fermentations; pressed off to large format, older wood for ageing for 13 months and bottling without fining or filtration. No new oak is used in the élevage. In terms of the two wines, the Graillot Syrah tends to come from the top of the block where the slope is far rockier, producing smaller bunches and ripening later. The Syrah No. 2 comes from further down the slope. Ultimately, however, the wines are made via a barrel selection with the aim being to select the most refined, perfumed and elegant barrels for the Graillot label, with the fleshier, more open wines bottled under the earlier drinking Syrah No.2.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - THE WINE FRONT
Formerly known as Graillot Project Syrah No 2. Syrah from Heathcote. 100% wild, whole bunch ferment. Delicate shiraz. Fresh and spicy. More boysenberried, blueberried and red cherried than anything darker. Feels fluid, a little meaty, a touch of game perhaps, almost into truffle. Classic meat/floral/spice aromatics and palate but a little abrupt to close. Love the light touch of this wine, and the style it’s chasing, but I’m not entirely convinced in the end.