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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Hallowed Ground Tasting

Hallowed Ground styles itself as an exclusive membership club created by Amelia Jukes and Elodie Cameron championing premium boutique Australian and New Zealand wineries in the UK.

Australia and New Zealand make somewhat curious oenological bedfellows; New Zealand is, to me, the Southern hemisphere's answer to Austria - well-made, cool-climate wines with precision and purity made in low volumes with a focus on increasing quality and pricing.

By contrast, Australia's reputation is often as a volume producer of highly discounted warm-climate supermarket plonk - but with pockets of excellence and a cool-climate backlash going on, it's not an easy place to characterise.

However, there is clearly something of a synergy here as Amelia is also Mrs Matthew Jukes - he of the 100 Best Australian Wines - so presumably she has at least a bit of an inside track there.

I was not able to make the trade event during the day, but Amelia kindly invited me to masquerade as a Punter and come along to evening event as a guest; set in a private members club, the general style of Hallowed Ground's members seems to be smart, chic and aspirational, so I fitted right in.

On the way there, the twitter buzz was all about Te Whara Ra, the Pinots in general and a NV Flamma Sparkling Shiraz, so with limited time, I made a note to try these plus whatever else I could get to.

The NZ style of Pinots here was overwhelmingly in favour of elegance, fruit and prettiness (which I have still to learn to love) rather than my preferred Burgundian earthiness; but with prices generally in the high teens to mid-thirties, these are by no means everyday wines and expectations are raised accordingly.

The overall impression of the wines is one of elegance, balance and precision, European-style food-friendliness and a sense of classic traditions given a modern edge.
Consistency of quality was also very high with virtually all the wines here at least scoring good (1 tick), and many very good (2 ticks) to very good indeed (3 ticks).

New Zealand
Te Whara Ra, Marlborough

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£18.20) aromatic and herbaceous in the typical Marlborough style; crisp, deft and really precise. Very Good.

Toru 2011 Gew/Ries/PG (£18.00) mouthwateringly citrus with good minerality; precise and structured. Very Good Indeed.

Pinot Noir 2011 (£31.00) Soft red fruits, savouriness, elegant.

Syrah 2010 (£28.50) chocolatey texture with aromas of Christmas spice and orange peel - beautifully elegant. Very Good.

Surveyor Thomson, Central Otago

Pinot Noir 2009 (£27.60) red soft fruits, smooth texture. Precise and correct.


clos Clare, Clare Valley

Watervale Riesling 2012 (£23.70) ripe citrus and rounded acidity, savouriness rather than minerality, long palate and persistent finish. Good.

Fox Gordon, Adelaide Hills / Barossa Valley

Princess Fiano 2011, Adelaide Hills (£17.60) soft and mouthfilling, long palate. Very Good.

Abby Viognier 2010 (£17.30) lovely soft peachy texture with ripe fruit and hints of hazelnut. Good.

Ocean Eight, Mornington Peninsula

Pinot Noir 2010 (£29.45) pale in the glass, oaky spice on the nose, soft with good fruit on the palate. Well balanced.

The Aylward Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 (£49.85) pale in the glass, toasty nose, soft yet concentrated palate with red fruit and oaky spice. Persistent and long.

Paringa Estate

The Paringa Pinot Noir 2008 (£88.65) amazingly concentrated and mouthfilling, complex and intense. Very Good Indeed.

Lake Breeze, Langhorne Creek

Bullant Merlot Cambernet / Merlot (£16.65) pure fruit, cassis, mint and plum. Good.

Bullant Shiraz 2010 (£16.65) dark fruit, coffee and spice; mouthfilling and dense, good grip. Good.

Bernoota Cabernet / Shiraz 2009 (£23.25) dense and inky with a lovely, muscular texture. Very Good.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (£23.90) blackcurrant fruit and minty pencil shavings; soft, mouthfilling tannins with firm grip. Very Good.

Ulithorne Wines, McLaren Vale

Frux Frugis Shiraz 2008 (£31.30) dense and concentrated dark fruit, elegant and precise.

Paternus Shiraz/Cabernet (£36.84) has more Cab grip, density, muscularity and mintiness. Very Good.

Flamma Sparkling Shiraz NV (£36.80) single-vineyard wine with 10 vintages blended in a solera-system and bottle fermented; a bit bonkers then. Crisp, precise and yeasty with Shiraz weightiness.

Recommended Wines

I seem to have been handing out ticks very liberally at this tasting - that's partly a reflection of the prices here, but quality is also consistently high and I do feel there is a Hallowed Ground "House Style", which I rather like.

In general, the stand-out producers for me were Lake Breeze and Te Whare Ra and whilst there were some impressive price tags (and wines), if I had to pick a single wine that made my night, it was actually the poised, aromatic white blend Toru from Te Whare Ra.


Hallowed Ground - website, twitter

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