Nick Farr is a master of the understatement. He was hardly fond of 2014 as a red-wine vintage, yet put together a 98-point Farrside and 97-point Sangreal. The 2013 he dubbed “crowd pleasers” and 2012 was a year of “lazy winemaking” but naturally the wines were outstanding and the accolades flowed as freely as ever. So along comes a vintage tailor-made for top-notch Victorian Pinot. “I’m generally quite reserved about the future of any of our wines,” Nick confesses, “but the potential of 2015 wines is quite obvious.”
Indeed ! So what a pleasure to unveil these at last. From this auspicious harvest we have the Farrside and Sangreal Pinot Noir, the Shiraz, and the inaugural release of the exceptional GC Chardonnay by Farr.
The overall season was quite balanced in temperature and rainfall. After quite low yields of the 2014 vintage, 2015 crops were back to average through the older vineyards and slightly higher for the young ones. After another fairly dry winter the Farrs relied on continuous rain events throughout the growing season. By mid to late January the vines were looking great, and after much canopy maintenance were in perfect balance. A summer storm in early February finished the season off nicely and fulfilled the season’s promise. The sublime texture and structure of these wines is down to the very mild to cool temperatures during February.
The Farrs started picking in the last week of February for a couple of the thirstier soil types, but really got under way from the 3rd of March when Tout Près was harvested. The fruit had fantastic acidity and flavour from even ripening, and the extended cool days and nights late in the piece. It’s a credit to the vines that in balanced, healthy fruit years the fermentation follows suit – nice and easy. The wines, too, have an ease about them, but with all the detail and excitement you could hope for.
Aside from the spectacular GC Chardonnay, the whites here are from 2016, a harvest that yielded extremely fine and mineral-driven wines for the Farrs. Broadly characterised as a warm, fast, early vintage, it’s a far more nuanced picture for the vineyards of Bannockburn. The scene was dominated by fluctuating temperatures and conditions. An unseasonably warm May and June, followed by a very cool and wet July and August, had the Farrs on edge. Budburst was early by two to three weeks and the trend continued through fruit set and vérasion. It was a warm summer but thankfully with no extreme heat. Good rains and thunderstorms arrived chez Farr towards the end of January, which maintained vine health to a much later picking date than initially expected. What they thought would be an abrupt vintage starting on 18th February, didn’t finish until the family picked the last of the Farrside Pinot on 31st March. As in 2015, the weather was highly favourable during the end of February, helping to slowly ripen the fruit and develop more structure and fine tannins. The result is wines that are approachable but with all the elegance of a cool vintage here.
2016 Viognier by Farr RRP $70
“Very pure feeling, lean, shows an essence of apricot but it’s flintier, ginger licked, cool and fresh. Barely there in a way, but so pleasing in its restraint. Crisp finish, touch of lingering nutty sweetness. Lovely drinking here. 94 points.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front August 2017
2016 Three Oaks Chardonnay by Farr RRP $85
“The original site, and for Nick Farr the most pronounced in intensity. It’s where the deeper, more porous limestone is found in that hungry looking estate. Planted 1994. About a third new oak.
Mellow wine of elegance, austerity, freshness and cool feel. Nougat whiffs on white flesh stone fruits, citrus, fern leaves, faint spice. Meshed oak spice in clean, fine boned stone fruit and mineral feel. Understated, complex, so fine. Wonderful wine. 94 points.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front August 2017
2015 GC Chardonnay by Farr RRP $115
The most exciting wine from the 2015 vintage is without doubt the new GC Chardonnay by Farr (GC = Gary Charles). With all the knowledge that l have been able to extract from my father (not always easy) we created a high-density planting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on an exposed côte. These hillsides facing east, north east and north will be the backbone of the Farr destiny for decades to come. They consist of the most suitable clones, rootstocks, trellising and management you’ll find. This is our tribute to what ‘Gazza’ has achieved and provoked over 40 years not only in our region but for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Australia. The wine has an amazing smoothness and calmness that stretches the length of the palate, surrounded with textured fruit and mineral elements. We have been playing with the fruit from these vineyards for eight years, fine-tuning the style of wine that these sites are producing. This is the vintage that saw it all come together with purity and balance. – Nick Farr
“Power. This is a chardonnay of presence if ever there was one. It’s rock solid from start to finish but the boom of flavour as you swallow is quite something else. Honeysuckle, struck match, peach, melon and mineral with a toasty spiciness smattered throughout. The flavours aren’t the thing; it’s the impact and the reach. It makes no sense but it’s both coiled and booming at once. Give it time though; its best days are yet ahead. 96 points.” Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front August 2017
2015 Farrside by Farr RRP $86
“Full red colour with a good purple tinge, the bouquet stemmy and complex, its whole-bunch aspects very overt, with root vegetable and earthy overtones. A hint of leather. Traces of blackberry fruit emerging with airing. The palate is fruit-sweet and succulent, deliciously flavoured and lush, with softness and charm to burn. An utterly gorgeous wine. Long finish – real concentration. Balance and texture are its highlights. 96 points.” Huon Hooke, The Real Review August 2017
2015 Sangreal by Farr RRP $86
“Clones 114 and 115 planted ’94, believed to have mutated into a single ‘Sangreal’ clone, 66% whole bunches, 4 days cold soak, wild yeast open-fermented 8 days, matured in new French oak for 18 months. Deeply coloured, depth and savoury complexity the cornerstones of great pinots. Spices from an Arabian bazaar intermingle sinuously with vibrant berry fruits, a skein of refreshing acidity adding another dimension to a wine that continuously draws saliva from the mouth. It is already a complete wine, its future measured in decades, not years. 97 points.” James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2018
2015 Shiraz by Farr RRP $70
“From the original vineyard planted ’94, open-fermented with 2-4% viognier, 20% whole bunches, matured for 18 months in French oak (20% new). The aromas are particularly complex and fragrant, charcuterie and allspice decorating the concourse of black cherry and satsuma plum of the bouquet and medium to full-bodied palate. The management of the viognier addition, the tannins, and the oak, made perfect by long practice. 96 points.” James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2018