Of Course it's Red! It's Cambrian!

The Tatiarra Estate, in the Heathcote district,  features 143 acres of Shiraz planted of Cambrian earth.

Bill Hepburn established the first 10 acres at the beginning of the 20th century, living at that time in a caravan close to the vineyard (which will serve for inspiring Tatiarra’s flagship wine's name, The Caravan of Dreams). 

In 2001, Nick Chlebnikowski and  Bill Spring together with investor Gerry Carrington purchased the vineyard from Hepburn with the aim of producing world class Shiraz. 

Ben Riggs and Peter Flewellyn were called to manage winemaking operations, while Ian Rathjen (Whistling Eagle) was in charge of viticultural operations.  The first vintage was produced in 2002 and the vineyard expanded in 2003.

Today the estate is managed by Bob Wilson, while Ben Riggs continues as chief winemaker and Rob Gibson has taken the role of chief viticulturist. Highly concentrated fruit is the main target in the vineyard. Limited use of irrigation and picking time is decided for each single plot to ensure optimal level of physiological ripeness (phenolic maturity).  A mix of different fermentation techniques together with new and used French and American barrels are employed to maximise complexity and tame tannins. The best barrels goes into the flagship labels, whilst the barrels that are not up to standards are declassified and sold as Tatiarra Culled Barrel.

Since the inaugural vintage Tatiarra wines have quickly gathered huge hype and this estate has been identified as one of Heathcote's top producers. Their flagship labels are considered to be the Heathcote answer to Penfolds' Grange.

Terroir is pretty unique here and mainly characterised by Cambrian red earth: a narrow strip of 500,000,000 years-old soil extending from the town of Heathcote up North towards the Lake Cooper. Map (here). Shiraz vines seems to thrive in this kind of soil, giving rise to concentrated wines featuring a distinctive minerally edge.

Cambrian Shiraz 2006 (4.0/5)

Even if 10 years old, this Shiraz is midnight black. Look the cork in the picture is saturated black. The grapes for this wine are cropped at ridiculously low yields of 1.5 tonnes per acre.
The nose and palate are all about power and concentration of fruit (tiny wild black/blue berries) well matched by peppery hints and marked amount of oak notes (still very much pronounced). However, please note that the wine is not just banally huge as it features a refreshing savoury/mineral snap cutting through the dense mid-palate. Alcohol is very high, but overall well hidden. Not a style for the faint-hearted ones. Very good quality, below £20 this is a bargain, approachable now but it's still very lively and should have a decade more of life in the bottle. 100% Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia.  

The Caravan of Dreams - Shiraz Pressings 2006 (4.5/5)
As said before, the Caravan of Dreams takes its name from the vineyard’s founder Bill Hepburn and his initial dream of making a great Shiraz (his accommodation being at that time a Caravan close to the vineyard). After the free run juice is allocated for the Cambrian Shiraz, three pressings are made from the grape skins with great care taken to ensure that phenolics extraction does not overcome the fruit flavour. The wine is then matured in new American oak casks for approximately 12 months. 
The organoleptic profile is very similar to the Cambrian Shiraz, with the 'only' difference that here the tannic matrix (coming a lot more from the fruit than from the oak barrels) is wonderfully knitted. The resulting wine has, therefore, much better integrated oak, more layers of complexity and overall better balance. Thick velvety tannins support a long finish characterised by black fruits, spices and a mineral vein. 
Outstanding quality, Premium Price (yet very high quality/price ratio), approachable now but will keep evolving for a decade at least. 100% Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia.     


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