“I’m looking for joy.”
Those were the words uttered by Patrick Walsh as the CellarHand team got their heads stuck into a hardcore blind tasting of Grenache, including various off-portfolio benchmarks from around the world.
Putting the spotlight on one of Australia’s most exciting varieties du jour, the tasting unsurprisingly included many engrossing examples.
But everyone will recall that moment when the joy floodgates broke open. Wine 1, bracket 3 – who could forget? “Pretty. Red berries, flowers, and dried herbs. Settled, dusty, almost Italianate nose. Pinot-like on the palate; juicy, spicy, cool, oh-so-silky and moreish. Great shape and length.” That was this taster’s note on what turned out to be RP2. Utterly charming and, like all things Mount Mary, an essay in finesse.
It’s hardly a bolt from the blue. This is now the sixth release of these wines, and anyone who tried the ’17 and ’18 wines has been carried along on the current of cool-grown class. Sam Middleton has the white RP1 purring, too. Herbal, floral, citrus inflections draw you into a palate that is at once cool and energetic, while lending leaving space for the rounder, riper, textured undertones of these Rhône varieties.
This project, so ahead of its time when the vines went into the ground in 2008, is flying in 2021. As ravishing as it is relevant, Marli Russell’s time has come – and its future is assured.
If it’s joy you’re looking for, look no further.
THE 2019 SEASON
The 2019 vintage was our second very warm, dry vintage in a row here at Mount Mary. We had some very welcome rain around mid to late December which set us up beautifully leading into January and the véraison period of the growing season. The vines displayed moderate fruitfulness, leading to a much better shoot-to-fruit ratio and balance across our vineyard.
Our Marli Russell wines continue to show gradual improvement since our first bottling under this label in 2014. The vineyards are now 12 years old and are really starting to produce fruit of great concentration, balance and purity, with much clearer varietal expression. We continue to make adjustments in the winery where we see fit, in the pursuit of perfecting the wines we are making from these new (by Mount Mary standards) and exciting varieties. – Sam Middleton, Mount Mary
2019 Mount Mary Marli Russell RP1 RRP $54
40% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, 20% Clairette. This wine continues in the vein of being a little leaner and tighter than what is typically expected of these varieties. What sets it apart from other Marsanne/Roussanne blends in Australia is the addition of the Clairette, a most intriguing variety both in the way it grows, and the wines it produces. This wine looks vastly different at room temperature than when it is served too cold. It should never be served straight from the fridge!
On the nose this wine displays lemongrass, honeydew melon and just-ripe pineapple. On the palate citrus flavours dominate but there are some riper, rounder flavours that develop with time in the glass and will become a lot more prominent with some ageing in the cellar. There is a light phenolic structure to the palate giving this wine some crunch and complementing the length of flavour. We expect this wine to age extremely well over the next 10-15 years. – Sam Middleton
Honey and candle wax, cornflakes, fennel, melon and assorted citrus fruits. It’s waxy and glossy, but has a flinty feel and ripe lemon tang to keep it trim and tight. Finish has a subtle grapefruit bitterness, and a gentle honeyed creaminess. Lovely wine here, and it should develop beautifully. 94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front June 2021
2019 Mount Mary Marli Russell RP2 RRP $67
55% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, 20% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault. The quality and consistency of this blend, grown here at Mount Mary, has surprised us from the very first release, and it takes another leap forward in 2019. To date, this is the most balanced and complete wine we have made under this label. Scents of poached strawberry, sour cherries, rose water, dark chocolate and spice all contribute to the complex aroma of this wine. On the palate its medium bodied, but shows understated concentration, power and length. It’s a wine that benefits from a good decant and should be enjoyed over many hours to ensure the full spectrum of flavours is revealed. – Sam Middleton
55% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, 20% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault. The world turns.
Strawberry, watermelon, roses, spice, musk sticks and mint. Silky, cherries with a floral mouth-perfume, biscuits and jamon, fresh and cool feeling wine, emery board tannin, pomegranate and baking spice on a long and svelte finish. So fine and graceful. Distinctive and different. It’s a beautiful wine. Effortless, seemingly. 95 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front June 2021