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In the late 1990’s Grenache was hardly known in Western Australia, let alone in Great Southern. But, inspired by the great wines of France and Spain—and in the belief that Grenache could do well in a region already building a reputation for high-quality Syrah—Matt Swinney ignored the experts (who said Grenache would never ripen in the cool climate of Frankland River) and planted the region’s first bush-vine Grenache vineyard. He did so with massale cuttings provided by David Hohnen, and gave his new vines pride of place on the site’s hilltops.
Today these vines produce two remarkable and completely original Grenache-based wines, with a quality that can be traced directly to the unique site and Swinney’s farming philosophy. Indeed, so unique is the Swinney Grenache that Rob Mann, who has a considerable history with the variety, has noted that he has never seen Grenache fruit like it. At the same time, Ken Gargett in The Word of Fine Wine (Issue 74) states that “Comparisons of the [Farvie Grenache] are often made to Barolo.” Matt Swinney’s response: “I’m ok with that!””
This year’s release is drawn from a single pick off Swinney’s untrellised bush vines planted in 2004 in the deep, gravelly ironstone-over-clay subsoils on the Estate’s upper northeast-facing hillside crest. Each of Swinney’s Grenache vines is picked over multiple passes, with only the very best bunches from each vine—those sitting in the dappled light of the vine’s architecture—being set aside for Farvie.
Once in the winery, the bunches are further berry sorted, then gravity-fed to a 1600-litre French oak vat for natural fermentation, incorporating 40% whole bunches. The wine has a lower percentage of co-fermented Mourvèdre in it this year (seven per cent in 2020 compared to 14% in 2019), because, Mann says, “the Grenache was so complex this year it didn’t warrant as much Mourvèdre”. As Swinney knew it had a powerful vintage on its hands, a slight increase in whole bunches was utilised for freshness and elegance. The wine spent just 10 days on skins with no pumping over, before it was basket-pressed directly to fine-grained, large-format French oak (none new) for 11 months maturation on gross lees.
We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate in Melbourne, and pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners of lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage, and recognise the continuing sovereignties of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations.
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