Gembrook Hill clicks just over twenty-five years of age this year, and continues to be a quiet but nonetheless impressive achiever in the upper region of the Yarra Valley. Vignerons Ian and June Marks give a long rein to co- winemakers, son Andrew Marks and Timo “bring back the funk” Mayer to create wines for Gembrook Hill with minimal intervention, great finesse and a much-coveted style, whilst also allowing them to indulge in their own respective projects. For Andrew, that’s his label, The Wanderer, which this year he’s taken up a notch.
Gembrook Hill Latest Release
Gembrook Hill Blanc de Blancs 2005 [RRP: $55]
This is the second release of the vintage Blanc de Blancs and is a more complex offering than the 2004. Fruit was handpicked towards the end of March from twenty-year-old vines. It was whole bunch pressed then chilled, racked and warmed. The juice was inoculated with yeast EC 1118, fermented at 16 degrees Celsius and left on lees in barrel and stirred for five months during which time the wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation. Tirage was completed in mid November, and then the wine was left on lees in bottle for four years with a dosage of 0.5 g/l sucrose. Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2008 [RRP: $35]
This is typical Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc, characterised by an elegance and austerity more commonly found in Sancerre, rather that in its Australian and New Zealand counterparts. The fruit comes from 20 year-old vines picked on 14 March 2008. The ferment started with wild yeast then inoculated with EC1118 in tank and barrel. It was racked and stored for ten months, cold stabilised, then fined and filtered.
Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
Gembrook Hill Chardonnay 2006 [RRP: $38]
This is an elegant cool climate chardonnay with restraint rather than overworked characters. Fruit was picked mid- April from the oldest vines on the estate now at 25 years of age. 50% of the juice was exposed to wild ferment, the remainder inoculated with various years in barrel (25% new French oak). It was racked off lees, blended in tank and then spent one year in oak and six months in tank.
Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir 2008 [$50]
Again, a style of pinot noir that is signature Gembrook Hill. Elegant, old-worldesque, complex, very stylish. The fruit was picked 12th March from 25 years old vines. All of it was destemmed, cold soaked, exposed to some wild ferment and inoculated yeast. It was pressed and settled then placed in French oak barrels where it under malolactic fermentation. Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
The Wanderer Latest Release
Andrew’s label ‘The Wanderer’ enables him to roam about the place searching for small parcels of great fruit to make some special wines. To date, this has centred on the Yarra Valley, working with growers with whom he has known for many years. Emphasis in the vineyard is placed on producing fruit of great intensity. This is achieved by cropping the vineyards at very low levels through hard pruning, rigorous shoot thinning and crop thinning in the case of the shiraz. The result this year, his third wine release under ‘The Wanderer’ label, is three vibrant single vineyard wines with great intensity and character, and includes two pinots, which was an unintentional happenstance.
“My philosophy is to always make the best wine possible however there was no specific plan to produce a ‘flagship’ pinot. During the course of the vinification it became apparent that I had a few barrels of something pretty special, which gave rise to the creation of the Upper Yarra Wanderer Pinot,” said Andrew.
The Wanderer Upper Yarra Pinot Noir 2008 [RRP: $50]
The fruit was sourced from a single vineyard near Yellingbo, 10km north of Gembrook, from 15-year-old vines on northeastern slope at approx 200m elevation. The fruit (MV6 clone) was cane pruned, and open-fermented as 30% whole bunches. It was cold soaked for a week before fermentation commenced naturally, then inoculated with a selected yeast strain. It was hand plunged twice a day with a full body pigeage at end of ferment to squish unbroken clusters. It was pressed at the end of the ferment then racked off gross lees to barrel. 30% was placed in new French oak. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel. The wine remained on lees until just prior to bottling. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.
The Wanderer Lower Yarra Pinot Noir 2008 [RRP: $35]
This is a single vineyard wine from the lower Yarra near Tarrawarra. The vines are spur pruned with MV6, D4V2 and G5V15 clones on sandy loam soils with a northern aspect at approximately 140m elevation. The fruit is destemmed only, leaving whole berries for fermentation. The must is cold soaked for five days in open fermenters followed by inoculation with selected yeasts. The fermenters are hand plunged taking care to avoid over extraction from a site that tends towards a firm tannin line. The ferments are allowed to warm up to 33 degrees Celsius before they are pressed at dryness. 30% was placed in new French oak for 11 months. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel. The wine remained on lees until just prior to bottling. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.
The Wanderer Shiraz 2008 [RRP: $35]
The fruit is from a single vineyard wine from 30-year-old vines on an east-west slope, located in the Yarra Valley’s Dixon’s Creek. The vines were cane and spur pruned. Fermenting took place in open fermenters with 8% whole bunches. Cold soaking took placed a week before the fermentation commenced naturally, with no yeast inoculation. It was hand plunged twice a day, and was pressed at completion of fermentation and racked off gross lees to barrel. It then went in 20% new oak. The wine did not complete malolactic fermentation until spring, so wine remained unsulphured on lees all winter. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.