Fraser’s ‘simple yet attentive’ farming philosophy remains unchanged since his first vintage, but he begins to learn more about the subtleties of Adrian Hoffman’s vineyard. Fraser picks some parcels of the biodynamically farmed vineyard early for acidity and drive and a few picked much later providing that definitive Barossa richness. He remains prudent in the vineyard with labor intensive farming and is vigilant not just during the growing season but during the ‘regrowth’ season with all pruning cuts are made amid descending lunar cycles, producing healthy canes, balanced clusters and small berries with resilient skins in the summer. All of this work results in the harvest of healthy fruit early in the season that requires no additions or adjustments and little intervention.
2019 was a trying vintage and one where the parched and sweltry conditions resulted in exceedingly low yields. The ’19 release is a decadent and brooding rendition of the Hoffmann’s garnet soils. Fraser feels that the vintage wine, as opposed to ‘Little Wine’, is less about the quality of the final wine and more about his experience of the growing year alongside the vines. “It is shaped a bit by my interpretation of how the season felt, the way the season felt for me, and that’s how I select for the wine; the seasonal experiences that the wines go through are paramount and I’m not trying to force the wine into a narrow band or make a house style. It’s a better reflection of what I do,” says Fraser. The 2019 offering is a selection of the two oldest sections within the vineyard; planted on their own roots in 1927 and the oldest vines between 1888 & 1912 with a thimble from the contiguous Eric’s Corner planted in 1996.
The grapes were hand-harvested and hand-sorted back at the winery. The carefully selected whole-clusters were placed into small one-ton fermenters and fermented without any additions as well as temperature control. The whole clusters are gently pigeaged by foot for 16-28 days and then basket pressed into Burgundy pièces (25% of which were new) for maturation. Primariy and malolactic fermentation finish in barrel and to encourage the retention of naturally occurring carbon dioxide (a natural preservative and antioxidant) the wines are not racked during their élevage and remain on their lees until the barrels are selected and blended. After 18 months in barrel the wine is racked to tank to naturally settle and bottled without fining or filtration and just a small addition of sulfur.