BACKGROUND TO TAHBILK
Established in 1860 Tahbilk is one of Australia's most beautiful & historic wineries. Located in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria (120kms north of Melbourne), one of the nation's premium viticultural areas, the property comprises some 1,214 hectares of rich river flats with a frontage of 11 kms to the Goulburn River and 8 kms of permanent backwaters & creeks.
The vineyard has some 200 hectares under vine which includes the rare French Rhone Valley whites of Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne; and the Rhone reds - Shiraz, Grenache & Mourvedre.
Also planted are the traditional varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc & Verdelho and new age rising stars Tempranillo and Savignin.
Vineyard plantings extend back to Tahbilk's founding with original pre-phylloxera Shiraz vines still surviving from 1860 - an eponymous wine produced from them since 1979.
Tahbilk is further blessed with an abundance of further "old vine" plantings including Shiraz from 1933 (the prime source for Tahbilk's 'Eric Stevens Purbrick' Shiraz releases), Cabernet Sauvignon back to 1949 and Marsanne from 1927 (a "sister" white release to the 1860 Vines Shiraz produced from them).
Harvest commences in early March and continues for five to six weeks with approximately 1,600 tonnes (red & white) grapes processed.
Total production is over 100,000 cases with just over 10% being exported to the key markets of U.S.A., United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.
Throughout its career, Tahbilk has obtained over 1000 awards for wines produced on the Estate at all the world's principal exhibitions.
These awards include the Diploma of Honour, the highest award obtainable at the Greater London Exhibition of 1899. Also First Order of Merit and Medals in London, Philadelphia, Paris, Bordeaux, Calcutta, Brussels, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Adelaide and Dunedin.
Over 60 firsts have been obtained at the Royal Shows of Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, and since the introduction of the medal awards in 1965 and until the end of 2010, Tahbilk Wines have been awarded 38 Trophies, 191 Gold, 432 Silver, 1531 Bronze, 7 Very Highly Commended, 8 Highly Commended and 23 Commended Medals.
In 2011 Tahbilk added some more awards to their repotoire attaining 4 trophies, 14 gold, 37 silver, 126 bronze and 3 highly recommended ratings.
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One of the world's rarest grape varieties with its origins in the Northern Rhone & Hermitage regions of France, it is grown in only 3 other countries - Australia, America & Switzerland; with Tahbilk having the largest, single holding of the variety in the world.
Tahbilk's history with Marsanne can be traced back to the 1860's with the sourcing of 'White Hermitage' cuttings from the 'St Huberts' Vineyard in the Victoria's Yarra Valley. The grape in fact was Marsanne and although none of these plantings have survived, the Estate still produces Marsanne from plantings dating back to 1927 - some of the oldest in the world.
Tahbilk Marsanne has a dedicated worldwide following due to its marvellous character and complexity and ability to team wonderfully with food at all stages of development.
When young the nose and palate exhibit intense aroma's and flavours of lemon, peach and tropical fruits with a dry mineral raciness; whilst with bottle age these will complex and develop into the familiar honeysuckle fragrance and character traditionally associated with Marsanne. Marsanne, one of the world's rarest grape varieties - a wine with it's roots in France but its heart in the Nagambie Lakes Region of central Victoria.
Tahbilk Marsanne has a long & distinguished Wine Show pedigree with 19 Trophies, 79 Gold, 109 Silver and 277 Bronze Medals awarded since 1992.
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Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon is a fantastic bottle of wine scoring 91 Robert Parker points. Deep ruby red in colour, the nose and palate show an intense mix of berries, chocolate and black pepper spice combined with savoury undertones while the finish is complex and flavoursome with fine grained tannins giving it a long lingering finish.
“Great value: heaps of slinky black fruit, fine grippy tannins and that distinctive central Victorian dusty, gum-tree twang.”
Max Allen – Australian Gourmet Traveller
“The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon gives a deep garnet colour and aromas of warm red currants, plums and black cherries with hints of pencil shavings and Mediterranean herbs. Very crisp and full bodied on the palate, it provides a generous amount of juicy fruit with a medium level of chewy tannins and a long finish.”
Lisa Peroti-Brown, MW – eRobertParker.com
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Tahbilk Shiraz 2008
The 2008 Shiraz is everything you would be looking for in an Estate release from a very good year for reds. Rich aromas and full bodied palate of dark berries and pepper, ripe red berry fruits, liquorice, plums and chocolate characters, and a finish that lingers.
"Lively crimson-red colour; it is open-fermented and spends 18 months in a mix of French oak of various sizes and ages. It has a delicious, albeit unexpected, edge of red cherry fruit on the medium-bodied palate; the core is black cherry and plum, and the tannins are particularly good. A very appealing wine."
93 Points - Australian Wine Companion
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WINE MAKING ETHOS AT TAHBILK
From the late 1800s until the 1940s the grapes were hoppered by chain off the horse-drawn drays to the 2nd level of the Tower where they were fed into a crusher. The must (the mixture of grape juice, skin and pips), was then transported by moving railway wagons and tipped into the gravity fed open Polish oak fermenting vats (the ten vats first used in 1862 are still in use today), and from there into oak casks in the underground cellar. Leachings were drained into the Still House alongside to make brandy with the "Still" driven by a steam engine that can still be viewed in its original position at the Winery.
In 1979 a new Crushing Pit was commissioned, utilising a disused 90,000 litre in-ground water tank originally excavated in 1880, along with the construction of a modern fermenting and stainless steel storage cellar for the production of premium quality white wines - until this date all whites were fermented in the open vats.
The red grapes are now crushed at the "Pit" and the must is pumped into the original oak fermenters where cultivated yeast is introduced and fermentation commences. Carbon dioxide gas is formed during fermentation and this forces the skins (called the cap) to rise to the top of the vat.
Twice daily the juice from the bottom is pumped over (turned over) the top of the cap which extracts the colour, flavour and tannins from the grape skins - three important elements in producing quality, structured red wines.
Once fermentation is complete (7-10 days), the wine is drained off the skins, which are in turn fed into a membrane press to extract any remaining wine - called pressings, and then pumped into oak casks in the original 1860 and "new" 1875 cellars.
There is storage in both cellars for some 365,000 litres of wine in a diversity of French and Polish oak casks, varying in capacity from 1,137 litres to 6,365 litres - the majority of the casks being well over 100 years old with some dating back 140 years.
The wine is allowed to settle and mature in the cask, being twice transferred (racked) into clean casks leaving the sediment (lees) behind.
Maturation time is approximately 18 months (the temperature stays a constant 15-16°C all year round - perfect for maturing red wine) and on completion the wine is filtered and bottled then cellared for a further 12-18 months prior to labelling and distribution (Tahbilk 'Eric Stevens Purbrick' Reds and '1860 Vines' Shiraz will be have up to 4 years cellaring prior to release)
At the end of the 1860 Cellar & New Cellar is part of the red wine storage area where bottled wine is hand stacked into bins holding approximately 8,000 bottles each.
The Tahbilk approach to red winemaking is considered very traditional and produces wines with emphasis on fruit flavour (as distinct from oak flavour) with the proven potential to improve and develop added complexity if patiently cellared.
With the construction of the dedicated White fermentation cellar in 1979 - one of the first initiatives undertaken by Alister Purbrick after assuming the General Manager's role - white winemaking at Tahbilk was ushered into a new age.
The white grapes are crushed and the must chilled to 5-10°Celsius before being pumped into computerised grape presses.
The juice is separated from the skins and pumped into refrigerated stainless steel tanks and fermented with cultured yeast under strict temperature control to maximise flavour and freshness.
On completion of fermentation (10-15 days), the wines are stabilised in additional stainless steel tanks, prior to filtering, blending and bottling (Chardonnay is the exception, being matured in new French & American oak barrels for up to 12 months).