Tyrrell's Belford Single Vineyard Semillon 2017 (1500ml)

Tyrrell's Belford Single Vineyard Semillon 2017 (1500ml)

Sale price$120.00
Pokolbin (Lower Hunter), Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia

Style: White Wine

Variety: Semillon

Closure: Screwcap

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Tyrrell's Belford Single Vineyard Semillon 2017 (1500ml)

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, usually ready in 2-4 days

Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124

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Producer: Tyrrell's Wines

Country: Australia

Region: Hunter Valley

Vintage: 2017

Critic Score: 97

Alcohol: 11.0%

Size: 1500 ml

Drink by: 2065

The top drawer, with few peers. Wait with bated breath - Ned Goodwin MW

Trophy for Best Semillon at the 2022 Royal Melbourne Wine Show
Trophy for Best Semillon at the 2021 Royal Melbourne Wine Show

The Belford Vineyard is the northern-most of the Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley vineyards and was planted with Semillon vines in 1933. The vineyard has been leased by Tyrrell's since the early 1980s. The vineyard sits on very fine, deep alluvial sand which imparts a fuller, almost honeyed flavour to the wine.

"Belford is a great vineyard, and the wines have a distinct personality. White peach, lemon, a little talc-like perfume. Powerful and coiled up, but a big mid-palate hit, almost succulent, then onto a roaring finish of superb length, with powdery texture trailing in its wake. Clarity. Intensity. Sails through the mouth. Classic Belford."  Gary Walsh

"Intensely lifted citrus notes, this wine has the robust, richer, almost chalky palate that is commonly associated with the Belford vineyard that is balanced by a soft, clean acid profile, giving the wine its great length. Hand-picked in the early hours of the morning, the fruit was lightly crushed and pressed before a relatively cool fermentation. Then the wine spent minimal time on yeast lees before being bottled early to maintain its freshness. No oak fermentation or maturation."  Tyrrell's Wines


Tyrrell's Belford Vineyard Video
The Story of Tyrrell's Belford Vineyard

Expert reviews

"I need to turn the music down. Take a breath. Strap in for a fidelitous ride across the ebbs and flows of Hunter regality, when I taste this suite of semillon. The top drawer, with few peers. Belford, a little more reticent and stonier than its Stevens brethren. Talc, wet pebbles strewn across a stream, lemongrass and citrus balm. But the texture, the opus. Still in need of time. Taut, linear and of pixelated detail and precision. Wait with bated breath. Drink by 2030.Ned Goodwin MW, Wine Companion 2019 – 97 points and Special Value Wine  

"Belford is a great vineyard, and the wines have a distinct personality. White peach, lemon, a little talc-like perfume. Powerful and coiled up, but a big mid-palate hit, almost succulent, then onto a roaring finish of superb length, with powdery texture trailing in its wake. Clarity. Intensity. Sails through the mouth. Classic Belford. Drink: 2018 - 2037+."  Gary Walsh, The Wine Front - 96+ points

"Light, bright yellow hue with an intense lemony/Sunlight Soap aroma, some green-herb nuances in the background, while the taste is light-bodied and crisply cut, delicate and balanced with a medium length finish. The immediate drinking qualities are outstanding. A refined and intense semillon, young for its years."  Huon Hooke, The Real Review - 96 points and Wine of the Week

"A trio of 2017 single-vineyard Semillons are in front of me, and the 2017 Belford Semillon is showing the excellent vintage to its greatest possible iteration. Toasted bay leaf, brine, sun-drenched hay, roasted green apple skins, sandalwood and matcha adorn the nose, while the procession of flavor in the mouth is seemingly never-ending. It's richer and more savory than the HVD Semillon tasted before it, but it has no less of an acid line, nor glassy purity. Excellent. This has won two trophies and five gold medals at wine shows since its release. Drink: 2022-2042."  Erin Larkin, Wine Advocate - 94+ points


Trophy for Best Semillon - 2022 Royal Melbourne Wine Show
Trophy for Best Semillon - 2021 Royal Melbourne Wine Show
Gold Medal Winner at 3 Australian Wine Shows
Wine of the Week - The Real Review
Special Value Wine – Halliday Wine Companion  ★ 

Belford vineyard

Tyrrell's Belford vineyardThe Belford vineyard is the northern-most of the Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley vineyards and is located at an elevation of 50 metres about 15 kilometres north of the Tyrrells winery on Hermitage Road. Bounded by gum trees, it’s tucked in behind Jump Up Creek in a tranquil location just a stone’s throw from the New England Highway. It sits on deep alluvial sand that’s so fine that it looks like talcum powder when it’s dry.

In 1933, the vineyard was planted with Semillon vines (3.9 hectares) by the Elliott family and then in 1994, Chardonnay vines (1.6 hectares) were added. Grapes from this vineyard go into the Belford Semillon and Belford Chardonnay. The Vineyard has been leased by Tyrrell's since the early 1980s, firstly from the Elliot family and subsequently from the current owners.

Bruce Tyrrell

Bruce Tyrrell

Bruce Tyrrell is a major force in Australian wine. Bruce is a fourth-generation winemaker and managing director of Tyrrell’s, one of Australia’s oldest family-run wineries. Bruce graduated from the University of New England in 1973 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics and joined the family business full-time a year later at the age of 23.

In 2006, Bruce was recognised with an Order of Australia medal for his contribution to the Australian wine industry; improving grape quality, research, tourism and export opportunities.  In 2009, he was named a Hunter Valley Living Legend at the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Awards. In 2016, Bruce was awarded the Graham Gregory Award for his service to the NSW Wine Industry, and in 2017 he was recognised by his peers within the Industry for his significant contribution to the Hunter Valley Wine Industry and received the 'Hunter Valley – Award for Excellence'.

Under Bruce Tyrrell’s management Tyrrell’s Wines will remain family owned and continue with the simple philosophy of striving to be one of Australia’s pre-eminent family owned wine companies, producing the highest quality wines possible at all levels.

"I spent most of my life lifting the profile of the semillon variety, because it is something we do here better than anywhere else in the world. My chief winemaker (Andrew Spinaze) and I started on that line in the 80s and we’re just getting there now, it’s been a long road. To change the perception of this variety as being high quality in the Hunter Region is the goal. To leave our business and area stronger and better than it was before. Just like a football team, you’re only as good as your worst player, so for us, making sure the whole district has the right reputation is just as important as our own reputation."  Bruce Tyrrell  


Bruce Tyrrell discusses Hunter semillon et al

The  following article on Bruce Tyrrell by Milton Wordley appeared in winetenquestions.com.au

Tyrrells Wines is one of the oldest family owned wineries in Australia, did you ever consider doing anything else?

I was going to play rugby league for Australia then got my right knee smashed and that was the end of that. I wouldn’t have minded journalism, I always enjoyed reading and writing.

At one stage I thought maybe the military.

You know I’ve been around this place all my life… my first memory, I must have been about two or three…

I was running around the old receival vat outside, I was just under the edge and the ‘old man’ was cleaning the inside and he tipped a bucket of skins and water straight onto my head, frightened Christ out of me.

I didn’t study winemaking, I did Ag Economics at the University of New England, majored in beer, football and girls.

I reckon I have been running the place since October 2000 when my father died – but probably being involved in all major decisions about eight to ten years before that.

He died on the 2nd of the 10th and he was born on the 10th of the second. Dad always used to say they should never start picking here till after his birthday.

We now employ about 68 full-time staff… there was a time when it was 148.

We’re a different business to what we were 25 years ago – a very different business. We’ve pretty much come one line in each generation… its probably why we are still here.

Your son Chris is now in the business: Who does what at Tyrrell's?

Chris looks after everything on site here – and has an involvement in the rest – I look after the admin and sales and marketing.

I’m still here at vintage time – I make the picking decisions on the white.

I eat about two tonne of grapes in January and February. We start fizz base in mid-January and we finish normally in the last week in February.

We get bud burst 7 – 8 weeks earlier than my sister in Macedon. Chris was like me the winery was his playground. He then studied at Wagga but was always around the winery at vintage.

One year he came home from school to work vintage as he had done for years, and said "I actually don’t have a lot of respect for the people who are teaching me and I’ve been working with one of the top ten winemakers in the world – I think I’ll stay here and work with Spin" …

Andrew Spinaze: He’s your head Winemaker, has been here for over thirty years, first started casually with us in 1979 I think.

He’s a bloody good winemaker and very much part of the place.

When we get to vintage all the decisions are made between Andrew, Mark Richardson the red wine maker, Andrew Pengilly the vineyard manager, Chris and I.

So if God comes knocking at 4 o’clock in the afternoon – he has to wait until we’ve done our daily juice tasting.

What’s special about the Hunter?

It’s a very difficult area to grow grapes.

I would suspect this is the most challenging place to grow grapes and make wine in the country. It’s not a bad thing – it means you have to hone your skills and be sharper.

The advantage of it is that because we are northerly our ripening is more in the earlier part of summer, so while everyone will say you have a horrible hot climate in the Hunter, what it means is that we get flavour early.

So with varieties like Semillon you are picking at ten to eleven beaume and they are flavour ripe at that, you can leave them to 13 and a half – but they’ve lost their acid, or the acid’s changed.

You look at the two areas that make white wines that live a long time and they are the two most Northerly ones – because Clare is the same latitude as Sydney.

The wines from here off the decent dirt will outlive just about anything.

So the notion about cool climate and the more southerly it has to be, is actually bullshit.

There has been an issue with mining, but we’ve got rid of coal seam gas in the Valley… it’s gone and I guess in the end AGL shot themselves in the foot – we’ve got them out of this immediate area.

Tell you a funny story, there were about ten of us who had dinner here one night with Julia Gillard…when she was Prime Minister and she said are there any rules left to keep the coal seam gas guys off your land and I said Yes there’s one left….she said what's that – and I said ‘Rule 303’…

She had no idea what I was talking about….

I was sitting next to Tim Matheson and I said I think you had better get Breaker Morant out. She said "What" – and he said "he’s going to shoot them" and she said "Ohh Right…."

The other thing about the Hunter is the close knit community, the people here, especially the late Len Evans, I always used to say that Evans taught me the difference between good wine and great wine. He was an amazing man, had an amazing memory palate, he never forgot a wine – you had to keep him under control a bit at times.

I was lucky to be invited into the circle that was those Monday luncheon clubs by Evans as a twenty-year-old. He was and did many things, but the ‘Len Evans Tutorial’ doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, what a gift to leave to the Australian Wine Industry. Chris did it three years ago, he kept coming home with the list of wines that had tasted and I said Jesus, how good was that…. 

One of my favourite wines is Tyrrells Vat 1: You were very much a part of that, I believe you kind of did a Max Schubert, what’s the back label?

It’s off that bit of land opposite us at the winery here.

The oldest bit of vineyard down there was planted in 1923. It’s the only bit of land in the district that's got a bit of calcite in it – so it’s a bit different. The first vintage was 1962.

It was not until the eighties I decided to hold back the release date.

It was a real battle – I’d spent a fair bit of time in the States and in the UK. People like John Avery who were helping us in the UK but in the States it was like get the hell out of here with that …. and so I thought if I’ve got to make this work.

Everyone was saying you can’t drink it young you have got to give it some bottle age.

So with the 1989 Vat 1, I hid the first 1000 dozen, away in the shed. There were about 43 board meetings and I was banned from doing it.

The production boss and I hid it behind some red that was put away for a while.

Then we started sneaking it into shows and we started winning gold medals and trophies and then away we went from there.

I remember hearing my dad at a show saying "bloody younger generation never thought of putting this wine away" and I thought oh yeah right’o Dad…..

It’s a very similar story to Grange – Max hid it away for 5 years or more… It was the mid-90s, I reckon it was around $20 a bottle, expensive white wine then….I remember when Grange went through $10 and we all said it wouldn’t sell – and the sales through the roof.

Barossa Semillon, a difference?

Oh, a couple of degrees of alcohol difference – we go with making them at lower alcohol.

But the Lehmann Margaret … that was about 11 and a half… and that’s a very good wine.

The other one who has gone down that line is Alister Purbrick with Tahblik Marsanne – now he’s picking them at 11 they are not the big honeysuckle ones they used to make 25 years ago.

I think that is the thing – if you can get your flavour early and you can maintain acid. … we are going to bottle at 3 3.1 pH the wines are going to live naturally … and it doesn’t matter if its 6 or 8 acid … that’s something which we’ve come to realise – if the acid is down a bit you don’t have to adjust if your pH is right.

Leave the bloody thing alone. Winemaking is pretty easy.

I observed how hard Australian Winemakers work, how much time do you spend travelling and where do you see the future for Aust Wines, Asia ?

This year I’m going to be 6 weeks overseas….. China is our biggest market. Strangely we are now selling more wine back in the States – when our dollar was over a US dollar there was not much market in the States. I can pretty much tell you the American dollar exchange rate over the last 40 years. The interesting bit – I was there 2 weeks ago the reaction to our Semillon was unbelievable.

Years ago they would all say piss off we don’t want to talk to you about Semillon… But now it’s a totally different reaction. The market is always moving and particularly in the States, the sophisticated and medium sophisticated drinkers are looking for something a bit finer.

China is an interesting beast we have a national importer who is probably our smallest customer – I think what I have learned in China is that the normal business model for distributing wine as we know it in the Western world doesn’t exist in China. And so we deal a lot with what you’d call the grey market.

We did a job 5 years ago where there were three groups involved – one had a corporate gift giving business – one had a whole heap of shares in sports and leisure clubs and the other two brothers owned over 1000 restaurants. So they don’t need to deal with a local distributor because their business is bigger than the local distributor. They are buying wineries here.

A group came here a while back and said first thing is that we want to buy 70% of your business and if Christopher and his brother and sister hadn’t been here I would probably have said yes. The future could very well be Chinese to Chinese – they are very sharp.

You are involved with the 'First Families of Wine'. What benefits do you feel that has created?

I remember the first thing we did in England, one of the young journalists said "What holds this group together?" and I said – if you call Ross Brown a dill – I will pick you up to hit you the third time. He said – but he’s a competitor – and I said but he’s also one of my oldest and best friends.

Ross and I and Alastair Perbrick and Col Campbell I suppose are the same. I knew Mitchell Taylor – but not well – now I know him well and he’s just a wonderful bloke.

So we’re much closer that we were, and more importantly, now the next generation is getting to know each other. They are sent on tour for three days every year – they go as a group. They went to Margaret River last year – they were here the year before… we brought them in for the weekend of the Hunter Valley wine shows.

They went to the presentation lunch then came here and to Mc Williams and then they did a function in Newcastle.

And I remember saying to them – you’ve all got the same problem – your Father won't let you do exactly what you want to do in the winery and he won’t bloody retire and you are all dead scared that your mother is going to die and he’s going to shack up with a floozy and she is going to get all your money all your inheritance.

What you have is this network and you must never lose that because when the problem does hit you know that you are going to get an honest answer because they’ve got the same problem.

We’re suddenly finding that people are coming to us.

I think that we’ve all been concerned whether the 'brand' of 'First Families of Wine' was actually doing anything. I think we’ve all got this 'it has resonated' it is working.

Most of the marketing we’ve done is overseas, but we are talking to more people locally as a group, even Dan Murphy’s.

You’ve had a long career in the wine industry what is it that you love about it, and also what have been the highlights?

Well look, it's like this, it’s a very jealous mistress.

I think I allowed it to become a very very jealous mistress in those early days in the 70s – the market was growing rapidly and it was just grab the tiger by the tail and run like hell – you took every opportunity you could and you just went for it.

The business coaching of the 70s and 80s was just grow – don’t worry about anything else just grow – grow your sales grow your production and you’d be right.

So that was an exciting bit of it.

The last ten–fifteen years have not been a lot of fun – it's been bloody hard.

They’ll come around again times come and go — the last 20 or 30 years of the 1800s and the early 1900s must have been a wonderful time in the wine industry.

The last two booms, certainly in production and planning have largely been driven by nothing more than the tax act – the stock market boom of the early 70s, late 90s and the deal in 94 that Brian Croser was able to do with the government when we got that accelerated depreciation but we needed to plant red vineyards too.

But there have been some tough times – I think the toughest of all has been this last run – the banking and financial industry has a lot to answer for and they got let off too the bastards – I always say those guys from Lehman brothers – I would have given them a gold handshake, put it round their necks and kicked them off the top of the building – should have all gone to jail.

A whole lot of them should have.

With the high dollar – basically export evaporated. The real highlight has been the whole change in perception of the wine industry, we’ve gone from being this funny little thing that sat on the side to being a major contributor to society.

I had a girlfriend from Inverell in the early 70s when I was at University.

Her father was not happy that his daughter was going out with someone from the wine industry because we were down there with used car salesmen – I think that has changed – as I say it’s a jealous mistress but it's allowed us to see the world to go to some amazing places – to meet some amazing people.

This year we sent out a thousand Christmas cards – the year my daughter was born we took one with Pauline and I and Jane and the dog and this year there will be about 13 or 14 of us in the photo and we do that every year – we keep contact.

That’s one of the wonderful things – you eat in some of the great restaurants in the world you drink some of the great wines in the world you meet amazing people because it is a tough industry and you have to have your own vision and view and when you get out and about and you learn new things every day.

If you are making nuts and bolts you don’t learn much new every day.

For us it’s the Semillon thing and I think Spin and I realised that at the same time back in the early 80s.

We were going to be people who got to work with something that was truly unique – If the industry has given me anything it's given me that opportunity.

It’s been a bloody long climb up the hill pushing a wheelbarrow full of rocks to get the recognition for it. But in that list of Decanters legend wines we were there with your first growth Bordeaux wines and Château d’Yquem and Krug and Penfolds Bin 60A and that sort of stuff and there is bugger all white in there.

I remember I was asked to speak at the Fine Wine 2010 conference in Ribera del Duero and they were paying for it so I thought – we’ll go.

And we walked in the first night and this tall attractive Asian woman came over to me and said "Are you Bruce Tyrell" and I said 'Yes' and she said I’m Jeannie Cho Lee, (the first Asian Master of Wine) – and she said I’ve always wanted to meet you – your Semillons are the best white wines in the world, and I went WTF, Jesus – wow … Thank you….

The next day the young bloke who was the sommelier at El Bulli said, say hello to your red winemaker and your son Chris, they look after me really well and he said the only Australian wine I brought back for the list was Vat 1.

These compliments just kept happening and I kept saying to Pauline – if I get a swelled head just hit me won’t you.

We’ve done it …It took thirty years, but we did it. It's never going to be a major force in the world of winemaking because there isn’t that much of it – it’s a bit like the Hunter, it’s shrinking because out of those two tax booms, there was a lot of vineyard planted where it shouldn’t have been, wrong varieties, all of those things and now it's shrinking back again.

I said to Max Drayton about 5 years ago we might be back to where we were in 1970 because the little bits of soil are specific and with the Semillons, we make Vat 1 over here, the Stephens and HVD and Belford are all specific bits of dirt with their own characters.

We had a guy here from Czechoslovakia last week and he is writing a thesis on Hunter Semillon and he said – I just can't believe it. We gave him the four Semillons and the same three vintages of each – 16, 11 and 05 or 06 – it just blew him away – and that's what it is going to be a small little area with great bits of vineyard – I always reckon this is the closest we get to Burgundy we’ve got those little bits of specific things that have got their own character its not wall to wall vineyard.

Viticulture / Winemaking….. A few years ago and now?

There is nothing more dangerous than a winemaker in a vineyard a week before vintage if he hasn’t been there for the rest of the season.

Well, if your fruit is not right at the end of the day people buy a bottle of wine because of the taste of it and the guts of that taste should come out of the vineyard.

You pick it when the flavour is right – we work on flavour and pH – sugar comes in only if it’s going to get too high.

Twenty Five years ago everyone thought the blokes working the vineyard were just the peasants.

There’s a wonderful quote in Campbell Mattison’s book on Laurence O’Shea – Wine Hunter.

He talks about an oak cask being a place for the wine to lie and rest and get itself ready for bottle and it must never add any flavour to the wine because you work in the vineyard to get that flavour out of the grapes.

It's true you see it here. It happened in 2014, a great year – they left them out and they got them over ripe and then they overloaded them with oak and then they all tell you how good they are in the vineyard.

We used to have on our EGY Tyrell labels the term 'Winegrower', I think it is a wonderful description

Anything else you would like to say?

The Hunter Valley is twelve years away from turning 200. The first vines were planted in 1828.

We still own the oldest Chardonnay block in the world – out on HVD planted in 1908.

Something you know, that we don’t talk enough about here in Australia is that this is the greatest repository of old vines – Europeans don’t have them, and The Hunter is the oldest… its basically us and the Barossa.

There are thirteen blocks in the Hunter on their own roots which are over 100 years old. I’ve got seven of them and I want to get the other six.

There were vines in the first fleet. Some of those vines are still in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney….The oldest block is right here at the top of a nearby hill – it's called the 'Four Acres', it's Shiraz.

We know that it's first generation cuttings from the Hill of Hermitage from the Busby collection planted in 1867.

John Beeston reckons in all his research that they are actually first-generation cuttings from La Chapelle – I don’t know whether it's true or not but it's a good story.

I used to drive past Hunter vineyards every day, many of them over a hundred years old.

Our policy now is, if the vineyard is over a hundred years old it gets bottled on its own because it deserves to be.

About the winery

The Tyrrell family todayThe Tyrrell family today, left to right: Jane, Chris, Bruce, John and Pauline

The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region and is defined by its rich historical tapestry. There is one famous family name in the region where the great traditions of the Hunter Valley are joined by a restless spirit of wine innovation. That name is Tyrrell’s. They blend dedication to hand-crafted, minimal intervention wines while never shirking the growth and evolution of wine styles. It’s a practice that has been handed down from generation to generation, renewed with fresh vigour with each passing of the baton.

Today, the winemaking baton is being passed from fourth-generation father Bruce Tyrrell to his fifth-generation son, Chris Tyrrell. Sharing the learnings that come from over 150 vintages in one of the world’s great, unique wine regions. In a relatively short space of time, Chris has blossomed when others may have wilted under the weight of expectation. The future for Tyrrell’s is looking brighter than ever.

"In our family, it’s forever looking for the next thing. Not necessarily just for the next thing, but you are looking for the next challenge. We’ve been there, we’ve done that and we’ve got that right… What’s the next thing? How can we improve that?" Bruce Tyrrell

The founding father of Tyrrell’s Wines, Edward Tyrrell, spent his childhood growing up in Kent. In 1854 Edward moved to Australia, and four years later he and his family had settled in the Hunter Valley on a concessional allotment of 320 acres of prime land. He named the property 'Ashmans' after his maternal grandmother's ancestral home in Suffolk. Edward wasted no time building the first residence on the property, an iron bark hut that still stands today. Next was a winery in time for the first Tyrrell’s vintage in 1864. This was soon followed by more vineyards including the 4 Acres Vineyard. Planted in 1879, it is one of the oldest in the Hunter Valley and still produces exceptional fruit.

By the time of Edward's death in 1909, he had planted 70 acres of vines and produced 10 children. In the late 1800s he passed the baton on to his first and last sons Avery and Dan, the 'book-end boys' as the family refers to them, who assumed responsibility for the vineyard and winery respectively and took the business forward in the first half of the 20th century. Avery's meticulous approach to vineyard management is still bearing fruit today: "The vines that he tended so carefully are the backbone of Tyrrells' benchmark wines today, 130 years after they were planted," says Bruce. Dan, affectionately known as 'Uncle Dan', took over the mantle of winemaker at just 18 years of age and officiated over an astounding 69 vintages, surely an Australian record.

"It’s a very humbling experience to be able to go to work every day and work with vineyards that were planted by my grandfather, my great grandfather and my great, great grandfather. And while the Hunter Valley was Australia’s first grape growing region it is still a progressive wine region. No one rests on their laurels here, and at Tyrrell’s we are very much a part of that." Chris Tyrrell

In 1959, Avery's son Murray took the reins and quickly proceeded to take things to another level. Before Murray almost all of Tyrrell’s wines were sold to other wineries. Murray changed this, keeping and bottling the best wines under their own label. Before too long names like Vat 1 Semillon, Vat 9 Hunter and Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay became part of the Australian wine lover’s vernacular. Murray also introduced new wine styles and revolutionised wine tourism in Australia, setting a new standard of excellence in innovation that his son Bruce built on since the turn of the century.

"The big change when my father took over was introducing Australia to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of modern times. But probably more importantly he was the real father of wine tourism. In the 1960s we had no other way of getting people to buy our wines, we had to get them to come to us!" Bruce Tyrrell

Bruce Tyrell graduated from the University of New England in 1973 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics and joined the family business full-time a year later at the age of 23. In 2000, he took over from his father Murray as managing director of Tyrrell’s. He quickly jettisoned the Long Flat brand that focused on quantity, giving the winemaking team the chance to focus on Tyrrell’s single-vineyard, sacred site and winemaker’s selection wines. The results? Tyrrell’s global reputation for exceptional Semillon and Chardonnay is now matched by a reputation for their reds that is the envy of many in the valley and across Australia.

Just as Avery and Dan learnt from Edward, and Bruce learnt from Murray, today Chris Tyrrell is learning each day from Bruce and the rest of the team in the vineyard and in the winery. Like Bruce, Chris isn’t just blindly following the path others before him have forged - he wouldn’t be a Tyrrell if he wasn’t looking to improve, innovate and evolve.

Rather than looking to the modern or the technical to improve the way things are done at Tyrrell’s, Chris is actually heading back to the past while looking to the future. Back then apart from a few rudimentary tools in the vineyard and winery, it just took a heck of a lot of work to get the grapes getting grown, picked, crushed, fermented and bottled. Over the years there have been many machines, tools and gadgets that have removed the amount of hard work needed in the vineyard and in the winery. Some of these tools have been invaluable in improving the quality of wines made around the world. But other tools have reduced the connection between the vigneron and the land, making it harder to truly express a sense of place.

"A lot of the wineries in the region, including us, have been dusting old bits of museum equipment and bringing them back to life. For us it’s the basket presses and old bits of vineyard gear and old plows… Everyone, especially with viticulture, is going back to the way things used to be. Doing right by the vineyard and doing right by the soil." Chris Tyrrell

Chris has been a key influence on processes in the vineyard and in reviving minimal intervention winemaking traditions in the winery. The result? The wines are in better shape than ever. Chris has been recognised and awarded as one of the best young winemakers in Australia. He was a finalist in the Young Gun of Wine Awards in 2016 and took part in the Australian wine community’s Future Leaders program for the industry’s best and brightest, just a few of the accolades in his short career.

In the rich and colourful history of Australian wine there are many names that have shone brightly but ultimately failed to create a lasting legacy. No such concerns with the Tyrrells of the Hunter Valley. The solid foundation built by Edward, grown by Avery and Dan, shared with the world by Murray and matured into one of Australia’s great family wineries by Bruce, is stronger and tasting better than it ever has. Chris Tyrrell, one of Australia’s brightest young winemakers and fifth generation family member, is now taking this special legacy and shaping it for the future. An illustrious history. A bright future. The Tyrrell’s name and fine Australian wine will be synonymous for many, many years to come.

The majority of the text above is taken from an article 'Like father, like son' in https://www.wineaustralia.com/

The Winemaker

Tyrrell's winemaker Andrew Spinaze

Having first thought he was going to be a chef, Andrew Spinaze fell into winemaking after working for a while in 1978 at Arrowfield in the Upper Hunter. He then decided to take a potshot at Adelaide's Roseworthy Agricultural  College’s wine marketing and making course, completing his studies in 1980. "Ninety percent of what we did was winemaking, including practical work at a winery. Mike de Garis introduced me to Tyrrells and I worked there during the really hot vintages of 1980 and 1981. Six months later I was invited to return, which I thought I’d do for around twelve months", he says. Forty-two years later, he’s still there and not going anywhere.

Given the importance of chardonnay to Tyrrell’s in the 1980s, it says something for Murray Tyrrell’s judgement that he allowed one of his senior winemakers, John Cassegrain, to persuade him to put the company’s entire chardonnay production into the hands of the raw and unproven Spinaze. From Vat 47 downwards, Tyrrell’s chardonnay has never looked back, hardly even sideways.

In 1985, Spinaze was promoted to Assistant Winemaker to Mike de Garis. After travelling to France in 1987 to fine tune his winemaking skills, Andrew was appointed Chief Winemaker in 1989, overseeing all winemaking operations at both Tyrrell’s lower and upper Hunter wineries, with an overall crush of 4,000 tonnes.

During Andrew’s time with Tyrrell’s, the firm has successfully made the transition from small family winery to a major Australia wine company. When asked to pick the three biggest highlights of his career so far, he replied:

"From a production point of view, evolving new techniques over the last 30 years and watching how the wines mature as a consequence – it’s given me a great sense of achievement. This has led to the development of an extensive Single Vineyard portfolio which gives great integrity throughout the business from vineyard to consumer.

Secondly, I would say having worked with a great bunch of people close to the winemaking team. When you have people that have stayed with you for over 20 years they offer amazing experience and knowledge.

Thirdly, I’ll be indulgent and say having won QANTAS and Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year in 2004 was great."

Wine region map of New South Wales

New South Wales

New South Wales is home to more than 500 wineries across 16 wine regions that produce a range of extremely diverse wines. The regions are Canberra District, Cowra, Gundagai, Hastings River, Hilltops, Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Murray Darling, New England, Orange, Perricoota, Riverina, Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven Coast, Swan Hill and Tumbarumba.

Hunter Valley is New South Wales' best known wine region and has long stolen much of the spotlight . It is also Australia’s oldest continuous wine region - the first vineyard at Wyndham Estate was established in 1828 using cuttings supplied by viticulturist James Busby, widely considered the father of Australian wine. Semillon is perhaps the most iconic wine of the Hunter Valley and is among the greatest and most distinctive wines of Australia - if not the world.

New South Wales' wine regions have a wide range of microclimates. The Great Dividing Range has a substantial influence on the climate of many of the viticultural areas. The regions of higher elevation, such as Canberra District, Canberra District, Orange and Tumbarumba have cooler climates with more continental influences. These regions are responsible for some of the State's most enticing chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, riesling and sauvignon blanc. They, together with the Hunter Valley, which by contrast, is very warm, with high humidity and a large amount of rainfall during the growing and harvest season, produce the bulk of the high quality wine in New South Wales.