Earlier this week, Mike and I had the opportunity to taste a collection of Squitchy Lane wines with Jeremy Oliver, one of Australia's leading wine writers.
The idea was to find as many Squitchy lane wines as we could, digging back into the archives and also pulling out some yet-to-be-released stocks.
Unfortunately, our archives are meagre at best and we do not have an extensive back-catalogue. Nevertheless, we found a few.
I thought it would be interesting to offer my brief tasting comments on the wines and to give some idea of their cellaring potential. I hope you find it useful.
2008--slowly developing but not far off its peak now. Lots of creamy lees characters with the oak subsumed into the aroma and palate. Leaner style that has benefited from bottle age.
2009--from the bushfire year, picked early. Similar structure and flavour development as 2008 and certainly has picked up some extra character with three years in bottle. Should drink well for the next 18-24 months.
2010--the current release, showing some tropical fruit and citrus notes with supporting oak. Medium-bodied, holding its age well but also beginning to show some secondary development--it's now on the way to adulthood, having shed its adolescent immaturity. In my opinion, consuming now and within the next year will give the most satisfaction although it will certainly develop beyond that.
2011--to be released in the next few months. Stylish, restrained and elegant with an attractive citrus and red grapefruit thread running through it. 10% of the wine underwent malo-lactic fermentation and this has added a touch of extra richness on the back palate. Not yet ready and will have a long life.
2012--recently bottled. Showing strong oak influence on the nose with some subdued citrus peeping through (it is common after bottling for the oak to dominate for six months or so. The fruit seems to take a holiday but it does return). The palate is generous and creamy with a more pronounced malo-lactic character. Very good and long-lasting finish. Won't be ready for at least another twelve months and will last until 2020 at least.
2010--showing some development although not as much as one might expect. Has matured into a complex white wine, not recognisably varietal but with richness and depth. Still alive and kicking and a great companion at the dinner table. Drink now.
2011--similar to 2010 but with greater fruit definition and still maturing. Vibrant, fleshy and long--it's a good rejoinder to those who write off the 2011 vintage in the Yarra Valley. Enjoyable to drink now but has the capacity to develop for a few more years.
2012--more identifiably Sauvignon Blanc, racy and crisp. A more linear wine than the previous releases although it still looks very young. It's certainly drinkable now but I feel it will improve and gain more depth with a year or two in bottle. This has plenty of struck-match, flinty character and quite an edgy personality at the moment but its days of youthful rebellion are numbered.
2008--colour still holding. Stalky, briar and earthy aromas, typical Yarra Valley. The palate is medium-bodied and firmly yielding, if that makes sense. More structured than later releases, more tannin and grip across the palate. Ready to drink.
2010--medium depth of colour, not showing any real development. Lifted aromatics--spice, jubes and just a touch of earthy, mushroom, forest floor classicism. Smooth, succulent palate, no hard edges. Lovely to drink now but has some way to go yet. It's simply a great expression of Yarra Valley Pinot Noir.
2011--it's always difficult battling against the popular perception but this wine demonstrates the dangers of a unilateral view. Yes, it was a very difficult season but the cool conditions allowed for a finesse and subtlety that is uncommon in Australia. This wine confounds all expectations and looks more like a village Burgundy than an Aussie Pinot. Savoury, well-endowed, complex, satisfying. Too young to drink now but wait twelve months and we will see a unique wine. It's quite different from the 2010 and the 2012 but perhaps more interesting.
2012--a return to a more typical style. Great colour, powerful aromas of berry fruits and sweet oak. This is a serious wine, possibly the "biggest" Pinot Noir we have made and it needs some time to show its best. Like the 2010, has that lovely silkiness through the palate that is the hallmark of great Pinot Noir.
2007--Lively and fresh, not really going anywhere just yet. Lots of plummy fruit and a back-note of blackcurrant varietal character to keep everything in check. Round, fruity, juicy--the sort of wine to put away for another 2-3 years.
2008--showing the features of the season, perhaps more so than any other wine here--ripe, curranty fruit with a background of minty cool-climate Cabernet. A paradox in many ways but very enjoyable at the same time. Not for the purists, more for the hedonists. Drink now to 2016.
2010--lively colour, pure expression of varietal Cabernet on the nose--blackurrant, leafy spice and sweet tobacco. My personal favourite of all the wines tasted here. Medium body so those who like Barossa or Langhorne Creek may be disappointed but those who like good Bordeaux will recognise the style. Beautiful sweetness through the palate, the addition of 10% Cabernet Franc adding perfume and softness. Best drunk 2015-2018.
2010--like a junior version of the 2010 Cabernet. Classically styled, smooth and elegant. Not ready yet, this wine needs a cool cellar, some patience and foresight. Those who have these attrubutes will be well-rewarded in 2015 and onwards.
2011--more approachable than the 2010 (in fact, we are considering releasing this one before the 2010), juicy, supple and with excellent length--the addition of 7% Shiraz has added depth and texture to the wine. Not quite ready yet but not far off it, this seems like a good bet for the impromptu "let's have a glass of wine with dinner" scenario. Best drunk 2014-2016.