This complex geology imparts a depth and multitude of textures to the resultant wine, a delicious and sumptuous potpourri of sour cherry, strawberry, damson plum, five-spice and lilac… Delicious. Balletic and verging on effortless. – Halliday Wine Companion on ’16 RP
All of us who’ve penned a tasting note in our time will have gone OTT at some point, hosing the purple prose over a bottle worthy of a more sober conclusion. But great growers on great sites – and Australia for sure has its fair share – drive wines into a realm where sensations are magnified, multiplied and commingled. The aroma, taste and tactile dials flicker and throb. And if the wine ends up pulling the whole thing off – coursing to a resolution that is calm, coherent and compelling – you’re onto something you can’t to let go of.
Nick Farr’s close-planted coterie catapults you into that zone. Ned Goodwin MW’s assessment above of the ’16 RP Pinot – the second rendition from the Côte Vineyard and predecessor to this offer’s release – contains no hyperbole. The same reviewer also captures the apparent contradictions in the GC Chardonnay in his appraisal of the ‘17: “Dense and intense of flavour on one hand; stealth and an uncanny cool, on the other.” Then in its third incarnation, the GC was declared “among the finest Chardonnays in this country… A meld of synergistic sites, rootstock, clone, vineyard management and a deft, soothing hand in the winery.”
So Nick hit the target with his tributes to mother, Robyn Pamela (RP) and father Gary Charles (GC) Farr. These two formed something of a holy trinity with the original high-density deity, Tout Près. As with the other wines in this offer, the 2017 edition is yet to be reviewed. But run a quick eye over various expert impressions of the ’16 Tout Près and you’re left in no doubt that the irresistible paradox is strikingly evident. “Power and poise,” as The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie put it. “Ripe yet fresh and tangy. Intense and almost decadent.” .That was Nick Stock. And, from Goodwin again: “This is a wine of a spicy, root spice-chinotto astringency meshed to a chiaroscuro of lighter, darker and exotic fruit references. Edgy, spiky and of compelling depth.”
As always, we have a foretelling of the vintage character of these wines thanks to the earlier release of the By Farr range. The impeccable poise and balance of the ‘17 Sangreal and Farrside spoke eloquently .of the cooler conditions of that harvest, while the 2018 Chardonnay by Farr smacks of 2018’s succulence and drive. “The release of our most anticipated wines is upon us once again,” says Nick Farr. “It’s always exciting to see how much further the Côte Vineyard has advanced, and along with each release of these close-planted-vineyards, we see greater potential in our most-advanced viticultural site: Tout Près. This supremely layered and complex wine continually surprises the longer it is in the glass.”
The author of these wines, then, doesn’t dabble in hyperbole. The old cliché stands: Let the wine do the talking. And trust us, they’ll give a riveting account of themselves.
Epic poetry awaits…
Côte Vineyard – GC & RP
The north côte is a red to brown loam with buckshot stones across the surface. It’s the most exposed of the three côtes but is harvested last of all because of the large amount of clay, holding valuable moisture for a longer time than the other slopes.
The northeast côte is a continuation of buckshot until the soil becomes black and lined with limestone moving towards the bottom of the rows and a depression that divides limestone from sandstone. At the highest point of the vineyard you will find small amounts of sandstone in the grey sandy loam.
The east côte is divided through the centre of the slope by a rise. It has black volcanic soil with fragmented limestone in one direction and grey loam with buckshot stones in the other direction. Soil is king, as the east côte has the least amount of clay and therefore the least water-holding capacity, resulting in it being harvested first even though it is the coolest côte of the three. – Nick Farr
2018 GC Chardonnay by Farr RRP $125
The fruit is hand-picked then whole-bunch pressed in the winery. All the solids are collected and chilled before being put to barrel (35% new French oak). A natural fermentation will occur at cool temperatures over the next one to two months, and then a small amount of stirring helps start malolactic fermentation. The wine is then racked, fined and lightly filtered before bottling 11 months after picking.
A wine with great fruit presence and varietal character at the front of the palate, the power of this site then takes over and it finishes with a very assertive line of acidity. We love everything about this 2018 Chardonnay. It is a vintage of great balance and completeness. As our greatest expression of Chardonnay, this wine has very quickly commanded a strong following around the world.– Nick Farr
2017 RP Pinot Noir by Farr RRP $125
The fruit is handpicked and sorted in the vineyard, then fermented in an open-top fermenter. Between 40 to 50% of the fruit will be destemmed and then cold soaked for four days. We use only natural yeast for the fermentation process, which takes roughly 19 days. Grape-stomping (known as pigeage) will occur two to three times a day depending on the amount of extraction required, and the wine is then placed in 50 to 60% new Allier barrels by gravity. It’s racked by gas after secondary fermentation, then again at 18 months to be bottled.
A bouquet of absolute intrigue and undergrowth from an extremely fresh and high natural acidity vintage. The elegant yet savoury power that we’re growing to love from the Côte Vineyard wines is showing once again from both the Pinot and the GC Chardonnay. The palate is lengthy and layered. It is a Pinot that keeps giving with every minute in the glass. This is one of the great Pinots we have made, with fantastic ageing potential. – Nick Farr
2017 Tout Près Pinot Noir by Farr RRP $125
Only a touch over 2.5 acres, it has three individual soil types across a three-sided cirque (an amphitheatre-like valley head) that rises above the other vineyards. Each slope consists of a soil type. The largest slope is black volcanic soil of limestone, the second is quartz gravel mixed with red ironstone soil and the third, an iron strand in grey sandy loam. The clones that will acclimatise and mutate over time are currently 113, 114, 115, 667, 777 and MV6 to become the Tout Près clone. At 7,300 vines per hectare, Tout Près is the most densely planted vineyard on the estate (hence the name, meaning “very cosy”). The soils and intense competition force the vines to work hard, resulting in fruit that is lush but masculine and provides the coveted structure found only in the most ageworthy wines.
Tout Près is fermented with 100% whole bunches in a five-tonne oak fermenter. This wine has the flavour profile and intensity to absorb 100% new Allier French barrels.
We’re just as happy with Tout Près 2017 as we are the RP Pinot. Tout Près has shown its credentials for a number of years, with its understated presence. A vintage with amazing appeal and balance because of the high-toned acid. Tout Près vineyard in the past has generally been tight and structured at the time of release, but in more recent years the palate is finer and more delicate from the outset. The layers of flavour, tannin, and acidity morph into an extremely long back palate. Great cellaring potential. – Nick Farr
ALSO AVAILABLE IN LIMITED QUANTITIES…
2017 Farrside by Farr RRP $95
The Farrside vineyard consists of black volcanic soil over limestone on a northeast-facing slope. The vine rows run east to west to shade the fruit from over exposure. It’s a mixture of 114, 115, 777, 667 and MV6 clones. Although the Farrside and Sangreal vineyards are only 300m apart, the differing conditions mean that this vineyard is picked 10 to 12 days later. The darker soils and cooler growing conditions give a more masculine and edgy wine.
The fruit is hand-picked and sorted in the vineyard, then fermented in an open-top fermenter. Roughly 50% of the fruit will be destemmed and then cold soaked for four days. Nick uses only the natural yeast for the fermentation process, which takes roughly 12 days. Grape-stomping (known as pigeage) will occur two to three times a day depending on the amount of extraction required, and the wine is then placed in 50 to 60% new Allier barrels by gravity. It is racked by gas after secondary fermentation, then again at 18 months to be bottled.
Focused clean lingering wild berries with a soft delicate background. Rich layers of flavours, focused and clean with luscious tannins at the end. 97 points. Roger Jones, Decanter Magazine October 2019
Masses of gun flint, hot metal, loads of interest and complexity, this is really good. Tangerine, citrus, powerful fruit, great whole bunches, black tea, quite ripe but super impressive. Excellent wine, it has everything. 96 points. Justin Knock MW, Decanter Magazine October 2019
2017 Sangreal by Farr RRP $95
The Sangreal Vineyard is the oldest planting (1994) on a north-facing slope of red ironstone on the surface going to limestone to bluestone below. The rows run north to south, gaining full sun exposure throughout the day and resulting in prettier, more perfumed wines. It’s always the first vineyard to be harvested.
Sangreal is consistently made with 60 to 70% whole bunch and aged in new oak. It is fermented in a five-tonne oak barrel with an open-top fermenter, and cold soaked for four days before a natural fermentation of seven to nine days. Once the cap falls, the tank is pressed. The wine is racked only once after malolactic fermentation, then sulphured and bottled, the entire process taking a total of 18 months. The wine is unfined and unfiltered in order to retain its natural flavour and bouquet. Sangreal is the most seamless and perfumed of the three single-vineyard Pinots. – Nick Farr
Medium to full ruby colour with a purple tinge, the bouquet tremendously complex and very foresty with strong stalky nuances. Very good flavour and weight, generous fine-grained tannins and good length. It’s very floral and multi-layered. A superb and delicious Pinot. 95 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review July 2019