First it was dad, now it’s mum’s turn to be honoured with a new top-tier wine from Nick Farr. These two additions join Tout Près to complete a holy trinity at the very top of the Farr tree.
The GC Chardonnay, named for Gary Charles Farr, received its first release from the 2015 vintage. It didn’t hang around for long, and you’d understand why if you tasted the wine that Campbell Mattinson hailed “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,” he went on. “It makes no sense but it’s both coiled and booming at once.” Indeed, it makes no sense – but the Farr family and their wines follow their own logic and set their own soaring standards.
Alongside the second release of GC, we have the debut of the RP Pinot Noir by Farr. The initials stand for Robyn Pamela, in recognition of the matriarch. “It’s not only the support and gofering that Robyn has endured for Gary’s 40-year career. She’s been in the vineyard and planted the first vines, driven the tractors, filled barrels and pigeaged at midnight,” says Nick. “If we are ever a man down Robyn has always been the first one we’ve called to fill the void no matter the job, no matter the time of day. You can always count on mum.”
The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Côte Vineyard, as is the GC Chardonnay. It’s a close-planted parcel on an exposed slope, with hillsides facing north, northeast and east. The vineyard will be the backbone of the Farr dynasty for decades to come. It comprises the most suitable clones, rootstocks, trellising and management you’ll find for the Farr’s landscape.
A new Farr release is always momentous, not least because this family always gives its all. Nick, like Gary before him, is obsessed with this land and the imperative to show it at its best. The likes of Sangreal and Farrside are not just fine wines with a great reputation; they are wines that continue to intrigue, probe and delight on several levels.
So it’s especially exciting to now have another real occasion to announce. These three close-planted wines set the bar even higher for a truly great Australian estate.
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
2016 GC Chardonnay by Farr RRP $115
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 complete Chardonnay.
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 more than eight years, fine tuning the style of wine that these vineyards are producing. What a result, once it all came together. – Nick Farr
Medium yellow colour, with a slightly forward bouquet of toast, butterscotch, herbs and flowers. The palate is likewise slightly forward and open-knit, rich and generous, readily accessible and savoury with a long, drying warmth to its finish. The balance is good. There’s lots happening here. A generous mouthful of classical chardonnay. Wonderfully detailed bouquet and flavour: a superb wine. 97 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review January 2018
2015 RP Pinot Noir by Farr RRP $115
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.
This wine is pretty and so very perfumed. The Côte sites simply produce amazing smoothness and calmness that stretches the length of the palate, as with the GC. There’s an abundance of fruit leading to fine and detailed tannin structure. To Robyn, cheers. – Nick Farr
2015 Tout Près Pinot Noir by Farr RRP $115
Only a touch over 2.5 acres, the Tout Près site 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 estate’s original close-planted vineyard (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.
Classic Farr nose, a beautiful earth-driven bouquet of integrated spicy fruit, earth, gamey and oak characters. Tout Pres’s classic forest floor character on the palate is complemented by very fine tannins, with a super long and fine palate. Even with its power and multi-layered flavour profile the wine is very focused and long because of the balance, lingering acid. This wine speaks not only of its unique site, but the style of wine that we enjoy to drink. – Nick Farr