To achieve this, the grapes are hand-harvested from 1997 planted Syrah. The fruit—of which about half is whole bunch—is sorted, then gravity-fed into a vat and a brace of 600L demi-muids, all French oak. Wild fermentation follows and this is evidenced in the structure, complexity and aromatic nature of the wine. There is a week and a half of time spent on skins after which the wine is basket pressed directly into large format French oak, about a third new. With just a pinch of sulphites, the unfined wine is given a little filter and is then ready for bottling.
"One of those full palate saturation wines, but don’t think this is hefty and rich, instead, inkiness but light, gossamer tannins, weave of herb through black-red berry just ripe fruit, a mesh of sweetness, peppery spice, herbs, earthiness. Almost an autumnal character but for the sweet finish, then a trail of asphalt-graphite mineral character lingers. A substantial wine in some respects, but not too. Very beautiful. Fancy feeling from hello."
94 points, The Wine Front (November 2019)
"Very deep, dark red/purple colour, with a strongly reductive bouquet that also shows masses of spices - pepper uppermost. The palate is firm and taut and elegantly-structured, but finished with tight tannins and long persistence. The tannins are fine, firm and supple, the balance of the wine quite outstanding. It combines great elegance and fineness of structure with tremendous depth, intensity, and length. A most impressive wine, quite correctly entitled syrah. (To be released in March 2020. 150 cases produced)"
98 points, The Real Review (August 2019)
"Made very similarly to the Farvie Grenache from the most promising, highest part of the vineyard from trellised, unirrigated fruit on gravel. Made solely from the fruit on the side of vines that gets the morning sun so retains maximum freshness. Just the Houghton mass selection that came from Europe via South Africa, rather than any Busby eastern Australian Shiraz or any of the other French clones grown by Swinney. Two-thirds whole bunch and fermented in the same vat as was used for the Grenache. Less new oak and less density than the regular Swinney Syrah. 300 cases to be released March 2020.
An even deeper, purpler colour than the Farvie Grenache. Tea-leaf aromas and very tight indeed. The sample I tasted desperately needed aeration. There is a lot going on underneath, and no shortage of tannin. The following morning some savoury aromas had emerged but this is still extremely dry and dense, and I suggest a bit more bottle age would be no bad idea. Much less evolved and more tightly focused than the Farvie Grenache. And again, very individual. Nothing like south Australian Shiraz, and nothing like the Rhône – perhaps a little more like southern Rhône Syrah than anything from the north."
17+ points, jancisrobinson.com (September 2019)
"A jaw-dropping, ground-breaking syrah from Frankland River. This is not the sweet fruit Aussie shiraz or syrah but more a savoury, grainy style more associated with the Rhone in France. Fine, firm tannins run deep and the oak has been expertly and subtly applied. But it is the way the fruit expresses that strikes as different and exciting."
98 points, The West Australian (October 2019)
"Smoky and floral, with spicy notes of cassis, blackberries, dark plums and mocha oak over suggestions of paprika and gravel. It’s long and seamless, with a juicy core of powerful fruit artfully knit with slatey tannins and tight-grained oak, extending with remarkable drive and power towards a measured, savoury finish. Exemplary, in a textural Rhône-inspired style."
97 points, jeremyoliver.com.au (December 2019)
Two hand-picked parcels from 21yo vines, berry-sorted, open-fermented with 55% whole bunches, pressed to large-format French oak, matured for 11 months. Elegant, savoury and long, with sour and black cherry fruit. Was there enough extraction? A curious question in the context of reverence of fruit flavours in current practises. Time may answer an emphatic yes.
94 points, Wine Companion (December 2019)