Featured Reviews

Wither Hills and Tyrrell’s from LionCo

25 September,2018

Lion is one of the major operators of making and distributing alcoholic beverages in the country, The wine portfolio is very strong, owning such brands as Lindauer and Le Brun, Corbans and Saints, and arguably the jewel in the crown being Wither Hills. Wither Hill was established in 1994 by Brent Marris and joined with his father’s vineyard holdings in 1999. The growth and success of the brand in all market channels was truly astounding. The company was purchased by Lion Nathan for $52 mil in 2002. Today, Wither Hills remains a very significant brand, focussing on Marlborough varietals, owning or managing around 400 ha, with the ‘Rarangi’, ‘Taylor River’ and ‘Benmorven’ sites deemed special, and single vineyard wines made from them. Wither Hills is based in the Southern Valleys where they operate a 10,000 tonne capacity modern winery of which 60-70% goes into the ‘Wither Hills’ label. There is also an excellent restaurant and cellar door. Matt Large is the winemaker, with the company since 2010, and Samantha Scarratt is the viticulturist. www.witherhills.co.nz

Lion distribute a large number of brands that give their portfolio a completeness. Recently they added the famous Hunter Valley family-owned range of Tyrrell’s. Established in Pokiolbin in 1858, the company is headed by fourth generation Bruce Tyrrell, but fifth generation family members are already fully involved. Tyrrell’s are best-known for their unique range of Hunter Valley wines, especially in Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz with the ‘Vat’ wines as flagships, but there are a multitude of regional and value offerings. Tyrrell’s have 106 ha of vineyards in the Hunter Valley, and this is supplemented by 26 ha in Heathcote in Victoria. www.tyrrells.com.au

Here I review a selection of the latest Wither Hills releases, along with two Tyrrell’s Shiraz wines.


Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Marlborough


Pale straw-yellow colour with light green hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly fresh with open and accessible aromas of pungent passionfruit, sweet tropical fruits, along with snow peas, the fruit building to show good depth. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a firm core with tightly bound flavours of passionfruit, tropical fruit and gooseberries, the expression a little restrained. The palate has a smooth-flowing line with slippery acidity lending energy and providing good tension and zestiness, as the wine carries to an elegant, lingering finish. While open and accessible on the nose, the palate of this Sauvignon Blanc is a little shy and tightly bound showing passionfruit, tropical fruit and gooseberries with a smooth flow and slippery acidity. Match with Pacific Rim fare over the next 2+ years. Multi-regional fruit sources, fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and 3.4 g/L RS. 18.0-/20 Sep 2018 RRP $17.99

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018

Pinot Gris from New Zealand – Marlborough


Brilliant, even, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, a little lighter edged. The nose has good depth and presence with aromas of soft white and yellow stonefruits, along with nuances of tropical fruit and exotic florals. There are steely minerals in the expression. Dryish to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a soft and gently rich, mouthfilling, subtle fruit flavoured core with some lifted pears, exotic florals and honeysuckle. The mouthfeel has some unctuousness with soft, integrated acidity. Some underlying power carries the wine to a rich, lingering, luscious finish. This is a gently rich and mouthfilling dryish Pinot Gris with flavours of stonefruits, pears, florals and honeysuckle with a gentle unctuousness. Match with Middle Eastern and Asian fare over the next 3+ years. Multi-regional fruit sources, fermented in stainless-steel to 13.0% alc. and 7.6 g/L RS. 18.5/20 Sept 2018 RRP $17.99

Wither Hills Marlborough Chardonnay 2017

Chardonnay from New Zealand – Marlborough


Bright, light golden-yellow colour with pale green hues, lighter edged. The nose is full and well-concentrated with deeply packed aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruits, harmoniously melded with nutty oak and creamy barrel-ferment, and some butterscotch MLF. This is bold and up-front. Medium-full bodied, the palate has rich flavours of ripe citrus fruit entwined with creamy barrel-ferment, and nutty, toasty oak notes, along with rich lemon-curd and butterscotch MLF. The fruit forms a well-concentrated core with depth and firmness, and the wine flows smoothly with balanced acidity to a lingering finish of nuts and butterscotch. This is a rich and bold Chardonnay with well-packed and firm flavours of citrus fruit, nuts and butterscotch. Match with roasted pork over the next 3-4 years. Wairau Valley fruit, fully barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new oak, undergoing batonnage and 40% MLF. 18.0/20 Sep 2018 RRP $17.99

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Marlborough


Even red colour with some garnet hues, a little lighter on the edge. The bouquet is firmly packed with intense and deep, concentrated aromas of dark-red cherry and berry fruit along with subtle notes of dark herbs and an amalgam of spices and red florals, unfolding some minerally reductive elements and toasty oak notes. Medium-full bodied, the palate is easy and fleshy with juicy, up-front flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit intermixed with soft herbs, savoury elements and earth. The fruit forms a rounded core with light tannin structure and soft acidity providing support and energy. The palate becomes drier but remains accessible as it carries to a light finish. This Pinot Noir has a firmly packed nose with an accessible, fleshy palate on a rounded core showing cherry and berry fruit. Match with poultry and pork over the next 4 years. Wairau Valley fruit, clones 114, 115, 667, 777, 10/5, Abel and 5, fermented with <5% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 16-16 months in French oak barriques. 17.5/20 Sep 2018 RRP $21.99

Tyrrell’s ‘Old Winery’ Shiraz 2016

Syrah from Australia - Other


Full, dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly presented with intense and tight aromas of ripe black berry fruit along with dark plums, raspberries along with eucalypt and spices., unfolding a little menthol. This is youthful and primary in expression. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a softly concentrate, elegant heart with ripe blackberries, raspberries and eucalyptus, along with mint and herbs. The flavours are up-front but show depth and the fruit is underlined by light, supple tannins and integrated acidity. The flavours carry to a gently rich finish with good linearity. Match with barbecued and roasted red meats over the next 3+ years. Shiraz fruit primarily from Heathcote and the McLaren Vale, fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 12-15 moths in French and American oak. 16.5+/20 Sep 2018 RRP $15.99

Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Shiraz 2014

Syrah from Australia – NSW


Full, even, dark ruby-red colour, a little lighter edged. The bouquet is softly full with gently interwoven layers of red berry fruits along with an amalgam of savoury plums and dark herbs, along with earth and minerals. This has a subtle density and substance with layers of detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate is restrained in flavour with a subtle layering of soft red berry fruits integrated with dark herbs, fresh earth and minerals. The flavours are bound but unfold in richness to show complex, savoury, the fruit supported by fine-grained tannin structure and balancing acidity. This has good mouthfeel and presence. The wine carries to an elegant, moderately lingering finish. This Shiraz gently builds to show ripe red berry fruit, herbs and earth, and a fleshy richness. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 5 years. The ‘baby brother’ to the ‘Vat 9’. Hunter Valley fruit fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged in old 2,700 L oak casks. 17.5/20 Sep 2018 RRP $24.99


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