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Murdoch Hill, a New Chapter: 2022 Phaeton, Tilbury, Sulky and Vis-à-Vis

Murdoch Hill, a New Chapter: 2022 Phaeton, Tilbury, Sulky and Vis-à-Vis
Murdoch Hill’s team has the energy of a freight train. Most recently, they added to the estate’s holdings by purchasing an 18-hectare property in the Lenswood sub-region of the Adelaide Hills. Initially planted in 1989, this beautiful site is home to some of the oldest vines in the Lenswood area and has a long-held reputation for producing outstanding quality fruit. Considering vigneron Michael Downer’s alliance to best-practice farming, it’s safe to say that its reputation is in good hands.

Sitting at a lofty 500 metres elevation, the steep slopes at the Lenswood site face both east and west. The 8.5 hectares under vine (Downer has left 10 hectares as native bushland) are planted to Chardonnay (65%) and Pinot Noir (35%). The vineyard is a tapestry of clones and blocks; the I10v1 own-rooted, low-yielding Chardonnay vines are the original plantings on a steep, east-facing slope, while the Bernard 76 and 95 clones lie on a gently undulating western aspect. There are four blocks of own-rooted Pinot Noir vines: two were planted in the early 2000s to Dijon 114 and 115 (facing southwest); and the D5V12 blocks were planted in 1989 in the top corner of the vineyard facing east. The soils are lean loam over clay with seams of ironstone and quartz.

Downer took his first fruit off these vines for inclusion in the 2022 Phaeton Pinot Noir and Tilbury Chardonnay released today, and what a start. Of course, it’s early days and as Downer implements his methods of organic cultivation, quality is only going to spiral. But already, the wines do not miss a beat!

Like most of his peers, 2022 delivered outstanding fruit quality for Downer, only in much smaller quantities than he would like (averaged out at a low four tonnes per acre). Relatively cool conditions in February and March provided excellent ripening conditions and healthy, vibrant crops were characterised by lively acidities and powerful depth of flavour. By comparison, Downer tells us there’s an immediate approachability compared with the austere wines of 2021, more genial structures and early gratification. In sum, vintage 2022 at Murdoch Hill = don’t hesitate.

The Wines

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