T3.01, 300 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo Sydney NSW 2000

Wine Wednesday


Last week our Marketing Manager Mark visited Hunter Valley and spent the afternoon at Margan Wines in Broke Fordwich for the ‘Ultimate Margan Experience’. It’s been described as ‘a food & wine lovers dream’. And… it was! Therefore we have chosen one of Margan’s wines for this week’s Cellar Pick of the Week:

Cellar Pick of the Week: 2017 Breaking Ground Tempranillo, Graciano, Shiraz
Origin: Broke Fordwich, Hunter Valley NSW
Grape varietal: Tempranillo, Graciano, Shiraz

Margan first started inter-planting (field blend) the Tempranillo, Graciano and Shiraz together in 2010. All the fruits for this wine are picked at the same time and vinified together. The Tempranillo provides the rich fruit, Graciano gives the necessary acid and the Shiraz provides the tannin. The vineyard is planted on the red volcanic soil of the Fordwich Sill and this gives the wine it’s Hunter earthiness along with its savoury fruit and rustic tannins.

2017 was a beautiful vintage for the Hunter Valley and produced outstanding quality wines. The hot dry ripening conditions provided clean, ripe flavoured fruit with firm tannins The grapes were picked at full ripeness and all three varieties for this wine were fermented together under cool conditions using cultured aromatic yeast. After fermentation, the wine was placed in a mixture of new and used French and American oak barrels where it matured for 12 months prior to bottling.

Bright, plush fruit and soft tannins coupled with the well-defined acid strength of the Graciano fill out the palate of this wine ensuring wonderfully crafted medium-bodied wine.

Available in The Cellar only.

The Ultimate Margan Experience

Last week Mark, our Marketing Manager, visited Margan for the Ultimate Margan Experience. Read all about it below:

We are welcomed at the entrance of Margan by our lovely tour guide for the morning: Myriam. The moment Myriam starts the tour you can tell she is passionate about what she does, and she knows exactly what she is talking about. After a brief history lesson, she explains to us that Margan is committed to the business ethos of “estate grown – estate made”, which means they use the grapes of their own vineyards exclusively for their winemaking. They continued this vision in their Restaurant, using most of their own produce in the kitchen. We can see the beautiful Kitchen Garden and Orchard in the distance, and get more and more excited.

We learn that Margan owns over 100 hectares of vineyards spread out over the Broke Fordwich region with a variety of different soils and grapes. Besides the classic Hunter Valley grape varieties like Semillon, Verdelho, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Myriam mentions some unusual ones for the Hunter Valley, like Tempranillo, Graciano, Shiraz, Mourvedre, Barbera and Albarino. She explains that Andrew and Lisa spent a lot of time in Europe to learn more about wines, and have introduced some of these foreign grape varieties to the Hunter Valley a few years ago, establishing Margan as ‘Pioneers of the alternative varieties’.

Hearing some of these unusual grape varieties, our curiosity continues to grow, and we are ready for some tasting. It’s like Myriam read our minds, as at that moment she asks us to follow her inside. We enter through an old door and are taken into the Barrel Room. Once our eyes are adjusted to the dark, our breath is taken away by this impressive space. All along the sides, wine barrels are stacked up, floor to ceiling, which transports us to a European underground wine cellar. But most excitingly: in the middle of the room, two tables await us with empty wine glasses ready to be filled.

We start off with one of the most classic Hunter Valley whites: the 2019 Fordwich Hill Semillon. A welcoming citrus smell, but not too strong, more like lemongrass. Right after the first sip, we feel our tastebuds waking up. A surprisingly vibrant acidity slowly turns into a rich and much softer wine than expected, leaving a very pleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

In the meantime, Myriam has filled our second glass with a second white wine: 2018 Verdelho from their Saxonville Vineyard. A round aroma with a hint of peach and flowers, a textured palate full pristine fruit and finesse, finished with a strong acidity results in a dry and crisp finish.

Then it is time for some education, as we learn all about our next wine: 2018 Saxonvale Mourvèdre. We learn that this grape variety is normally not often used by itself, only as an addition to other red grape varieties. However, in 2018 the Mourvèdre was exceptional. So they handpicked a selection of the grape and kept it separate. 18 months later the quality of the wine was high enough to bottle, and the first straight Mourvèdreof Hunter Valley was a fact. It has a rich palette of bright red berry fruits and hints of cherry cola. Tannins are definitely present, but not overpowering, giving it a long savoury aftertaste.

We finish our tasting with one of their more ‘unique’ grape varieties: 2018 Ceres Hill Barbera. It’s this grape variety that established Margan as ‘Pioneers of the alternative varieties’. Originating from the North West of Italy they were the first to plant this red grape in the Hunter Valley in 1998. The wine stands out for its naturally high acidity and ripe, savoury fruit characters, unusual in Australian reds. Medium-bodied with bright, plush red berry fruit and soft tannins. The oak is subtle and is maintained by the natural bright acidity of the variety. 

After a top-up (or two) it’s time to continue the tour and have a look behind the scenes to learn about how the wines are being made. We get the chance to try 2 more wines, straight from the ‘barrel’: their 2020 Rose and 2018 Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz. Expecting another blend watery Australian Rose, we are surprised about the richness in taste and the character this wine has. Way too fast, our glasses are empty again, and we move on to the next tank where we can find the TGS. Our interest is sparked once again, as we never even heard of the Graciano grape. After a promising smell, we take a sip and an exciting journey starts in the mouth. We can taste rich fruit from the Tempranillo, a subtle but delightful acidity from the Graciano, and a beautiful aftertaste from the Shiraz, full of well balanced but non-overpowering tannin. This is how wine should taste like.

We are approaching the end of our tour, but not until we quickly stop at the Garden Kitchen and Orchard. On our way, we learn that Myriam only recently moved to Margan, and looking after the Kitchen Garden is actually her main job. Together with her colleague Gino, she takes care of a wide variety of organically grown fruits and vegetables that are being used in their award-winning hatted restaurant. We find out that besides an incredible knowledge of wines, she knows even more about gardening, fruit, vegetables, herbs and soil. And if that isn’t enough they also have their own olive trees, free-range chickens, lambs and beehives. Whatever they don’t grow themselves, they get locally from elsewhere in NSW.

After thanking Myriam for an amazing tour, we are handed over to the Restaurant Team, who are just as friendly and welcoming. A 5-course lunch awaits us, with another 5 beautiful wines paired with the menu. We start with home-made straciatella with beetroot (fresh from the garden), paired with an impressive 2014 Aged Release Semillon. Next, we’re having an amazing gnocchi with pumpkin, which is an absolute highlight. We decide to give it a little upgrade with freshly shaved Black Perigord truffle from Tarago Truffles in NSW. We’re very pleased to find out this is paired with the Rose & Bramble Rose we tasted earlier, as half a glass wasn’t enough. We even get an additional glass of the Shiraz from our waitress, which was used for the Rose, to see if we can find the similarities. Still raving about the Gnocchi, our next course arrives: Bass Grouper with cauliflower, broccoli, walnut and lemon. Our waitress pours us another glass of white, this time the 2019 Timbervines Chardonnay. We opt-in for the vegetarian main course, curious to find out what they have chosen from their garden: Sugarloaf Cabbage, kohlrabi with preserved mushroom and lentils. Not being a big fan of cabbage, kohlrabi or lentils, some doubts start to arise. But within seconds we have been proven wrong, thankfully. Simply delicious! Our lovely waitress comes back with our first red for the lunch, the 2014 Margan Ripasso. She explains to us that this wine is quite unique due to how its made: Ripasso is the Italian term used in reference to the re-passing of a wine from one ferment over the skins of another. In this case, the 2014 vintage shiraz from the 40-year-old Timbervines vineyard, has been passed over the skins of a number of different varieties from the 2015 and 2016 vintages. It adds some mystery to the entire experience. After a small break, we finish the degustation with a Garden Citrus Milk Parfait, while sipping on a delicious sweet 2017 Botrytis Semillon dessert wine. The perfect way to finish this unforgettable experience.

5 hours later, satisfied and tipsy, carrying newly purchased bottles of wine, we leave Margan with a slight sadness… Already planning to come back!

To book your own Ultimate Margan Experience, or to read more about Margan, head to their website!

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