Usher Tinkler and Andrew Leembruggen know a little bit about the Hunter Valley. Usher’s family have been growing fruit and making wine for a few generations and Andrew has held senior positions at Drayton’s and McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant. So when an opportunity came up to lease the winery at Tower Estate after they were appointed as Winemakers at the same venue in 2013, the two joined forces and created the label Crush House. This allows them more freedom to play with good fruit from across New South Wales (not just the Hunter Valley) and make wines in a modern style.
Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2013
All white stonefruits on the nose with good healthy licks of spicy French oak. Easy on the palate with a slightly richer Hunter Valley profile with some of the fruit coming from Usher’s family vineyard. More nectarine stonefruit, citrussy lemon pith and a lovely spine of acidity…maybe a hint of legendary Hunter Semillon in the mix? Oak is used to good effect with a hint of struck match.
Alc: 13 % RRP: $22
Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2013
I love Tumbarumba Chardonnay. Originally planted as sparkling base vines, the Chardonnay being produced from the area is starting to come into its own, whilst the Sparklings are being continually refined to become some of Australia’s best. The New South Wine awards for 2013 saw the wine of show being a “Tumby” Chardonnay and the top Sparkling, from vintage 2001 looking like a 2 year old wine, not 12. Exciting stuff.
Feminine, floral nose with ripe peach, greengage and candied orange. The palate fine and taut with lemon/lime “Calippo”, just ripe peach slices and all “Thirst” life saver jangly acidity. I’ve referenced lollies/confectionery twice, but this isn’t a sweet nothing of a drink, just a wine to open and enjoy. Nice drinking.
Alc: 13 % RRP: $22
Tumbarumba Reserve Chardonnay 2013
With the introduction of the “Reserve,” the cute, playful packaging is replaced by a more serious font and far more tactile label, whilst retaining the dinosaur motif. A single vineyard wine from the Revée Vineyard
Pale lemon gold in the glass. A contradiction on the nose: power yet subtlety. The French oak armour framing a sinewy muscular body of bittersweet citrus. Exquisitely dances lithely and long across the palate with smoky quartz and super tight citrus. Built for the long haul…she’s a wonderfully tall leggy Scandinavian model now, but you know she’ll turn into a French President’s wife. Or Mistress. Your choice.
Alc: 13 % RRP: $45
Hunter Valley Shiraz 2013
The 2013 vintage in the Hunter Valley was a tale of 2 halves. 90% of the whites were harvested just on or prior to Australia Day, January 26th, then 3 days of solid rain stopped all harvesting followed by gorgeous sunshine to dry the vines out and promote the final days of the ripening of the red fruits. The Hunter needed a good vintage after 2012 struggled to produce almost any red wines at all.
Lovely vibrant purple. Some spice on the nose of clove and pepper, even a hint of stinky ginger all wrapped in dark red to black fruits. Surprisingly tannic and dry for a young wine, the acidity also slightly nervy for the moment. Crush House has done good here without succumbing to producing a young red wine that is all glycerol and overt oak. Showing archetypical Hunter Valley medium bodied characteristics, the palate has a genuine earthiness and lovely primary fruit, like tasting a ripe shiraz grape straight from the vine. Needs a little food for now, but may reward a short term cellaring.
Alc: 13 % RRP: $22
Canberra District Shiraz 2013
In keeping with the Crush House mantra of sourcing good fruit from across New South Wales, the Canberra district grows some of Australia’s best Shiraz. Canberra technically is in the Australian Capital Territory, surrounded by NSW, but there is little fruit actually grown inside the borders, hence most labels have “Canberra District” as the geographical indicator.
Lovely plummy purple in the glass. Youthful, savoury nose of white pepper and blue/purple fruit. A hint of earthy fresh white button mushroom cap. Like a young colt, the wine is full of energy with zingy acidity and white pepper. Young, fine tannin for structure framing youthful purple berried fruit. Pretty wine and made for sharing.
Alc: 13 % RRP: $22
Canberra District Resverve Syrah 2013
Not quite sure I’m on board with the Crush House boys on the labelling here. Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape. Syrah, being the more “French” methodology of application, has a tendency on antipodean labelling to mean “not from the Barossa.” If a new label is emerging, keep it consistent. There’s a Canberra District Shiraz in the range, and should there be the natural progression in quality of the source grapes and winemaking, allow the word “Reserve” to denote appropriately. A single vineyard also, this time from the Caruluma Vineyard.
Deeper blue to purple Mulberry as per its younger brother. More white pepper and good stalky spice. Hiding primary fruit for the moment…hibernation of a wine that has just been bottled (2 weeks at time of writing this note). A bigger wine and leaves residual warmth with bigger alcohol. Plenty of youthful acid and sweet oak to give perfect frame to more white pepper and ripe juicy berries and dusty tannins. All a bit young on this wine for the moment, 2 or 3 more years and it will mature wonderfully.
Alc: 14.5 % RRP: $45
All wines samples courtesy of Crush House Wines.