Tahbilk in the Nagambie region of Central Victoria have a history back to 1860. Some of these vines are original Hermitage Shiraz rootstock from France and were spared from Phylloxera oubtreaks and destruction, making them some of the oldest in the world. They also planted another Rhone variety, the white grape Marsanne, but unfortunately none of these original plantings survived. But in 1927, Tahbilk planted Marsanne again and these are also counted among the world’s oldest.
So whilst Tahbilk continue to receive the plaudits they deserve for their reds, the Marsanne sometimes sneaks under the radar. It ages incredibly well and Tahbilk often have museum releases of aged stock to showcase this. So what happens when you find yourself with these 2 keystones of the Rhone varieties, but without the blending approach to varieties that is quintessential to wine making in the Rhone Valley? You plant the other appropriate Rhone grapes and blend them in the spirit of their homeland.
Tahbilk, Roussanne/Marsanne/Viognier, Nagambie, 2014
46% Roussanne (aged for 6 months on lees in French Oak), 32% Marsanne and 22% Viognier (both fermented in stainless steel). Pretty nose, lifted jasmine white flower, stone fruits, lemon, honey and an almond nuttiness. The powerful Viognier brings apricot stone fruit as a rich juxtaposition to the youthful linear lemony Marsanne. The barrel and lees aged Roussanne provides a breadth and depth to the palate, filling the mouth. Some Rhone white blends can run to being quite flabby or greasy, but this beauty has spice, structure, grip and gravitas.
Tahbilk, Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre, Nagambie, 2014
45% Grenache, 40% Shiraz (French Oak),and 15% Mourvedre (both French and American Oak). McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley have had the dominance on GSM blends for…well…it seems like forever. Here Tahbilk certainly come to play at the table with a full deck. Usually plush and overt fruit has been replaced with a cool elegance, almost blueberry flavour. There’s clove spice, regional mint and ropey licorice too. The blend is seamless. Spiced blue plums blur to minty choc, all the while the tannins support perfectly, like Mark Williams for John Farnham, or Jenny Morris for INXS. This still has plenty of oomph and will cellar over the medium term, but I don’t reckon it’s going to need it. Show No Mercy and share the bottle.
Wine samples courtesy of Tahbilk Winery