Swinney’s Farvie range, which was two, has become three…well almost.
After much anticipation created by outstanding recent releases, including a game changing rosé style, Swinney has released a Farvie mourvedre to sit alongside its highly awarded syrah and grenache.
Only this year there is no grenache.
Owner Matt Swinney said that, in 2021, the quality of the grenache fruit sourced from its Frankland River vineyard was simply not up to the standard required for this super-premium wine range.
“Farvie should immediately say Farvie in quality and style, and that wasn’t the case for the grenache from that year,” Mr Swinney told Business News.
“It was painful financially but an important thing to do, to maintain the integrity of what we are doing with Farvie.
“It’s really about the nature of the variety and the season. In 2021 we had January and February rain events.
"Unfortunately, grenache loves the sun and not the water, and in that season the fruit was good [but] somewhat diluted from what you expect to see in Farvie.
“Mourvedre, on the other hand, seems bulletproof, while the syrah was also strong. There the decision was made to release only a syrah and mourvedre with the grenache becoming part of the standard Swinney grenache.”
Also known as mataro, mourvedre originated in Spain and has found a place in other wine regions, especially the Rhone in France.
It’s been around in Australia for many years but only came to the forefront when used as a blending component in the GSMs [grenache-syrah-mourvedre] of southern Australia.
More recently it is finding favour on its own. It loves the heat of summer and exhibits dark fruit flavours, with a sometimes wild brambly earthy savouriness that borders on the rustic.
Swinney said it had always been the intention to release a mourvedre as part of the Farvie range, and every year it had put its hand up to be included.
In the end, it came down to price.
At the time, Swinney believed the market wasn’t ready for a $150 mourvedre, but the success of the grenache and syrah has clearly prompted this next step.
Winemaker Rob Mann started making the wines at Swinney in 2017. His sympathetic, gentle, let-the-fruit-talk approach was a perfect fit for these wines.
“We did some mourvedre trials in 2019 and 2020 and its looked really cool until we decided that, in 2021, we were ready,” Mr Mann said.
“The variety has such a unique personality. Combine it with the character of the stalks and it creates a complex and more-ish wine. It’s fermented in upright 600-litre oak vats and then aged in 500-litre puncheons that are about four years old. So, it gets no new oak.
“It’s aged on lees for that entire time, similar to pinot, with the aim of achieving texture and freshness and integrating structure with the skins and stalks, which takes a little time to harmonise.”
Farvie mourvedre 2021 ($150)
Savoury aromatic black fruit characters. Almost a stewed fruit character on the nose but it’s not overdone. It’s real fruit that you are getting here. Great mouth feel and texture with a lively gravelly tannin. The palate is focused and precise and is very much in the Old World style. The leaner soils of the vineyard contribute to its distinctive slaty and minerally characters. Its structure will support ageing. Make sure you give it a decent splash if you intend drinking it now.
Cellar: 12 years
Farvie syrah 2021 ($150)
Has a high-end black pepper and perfume character with a little Chinese five-spice character on the nose. A beautiful medium weight palate which is effortlessly long and precise. Elegant fine-boned tannin sync with the black fruits. No new oak has been used and the aim is clearly to capture the essence of Frankland, which it does. It is probably the most immediately approachable of the Farvies so far with its harmony and softness. There is a brilliance and vibrancy about it.
Cellar: 15 years
Swinney grenache 2021 ($46)
Benefits from the inclusion of fruit originally destined for Farvie. It’s a beautifully polished and stylish expression of this variety from Frankland River. The colour is brilliant and bright with crimson hues. Lifted floral notes of rose petal and juby raspberry. The palate is medium weight with a bright lively red fruit expression. Fine granular tannins contribute to a slightly grainy palate feel. Lovely long finish.
Cellar: Nine years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region