Following in father’s footsteps as Winemaker of the Year
Massive congratulations to Nick Farr, who’s just been named Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year 2020. It’s fitting recognition for Nick, who’s taken amazing strides with these vineyards and wines since effectively taking over – with enormous shoes to fill – some 10 years ago.
Nick’s win comes 19 years after his father Gary won this same title. This is the first time two people from the same company – or winemaking dynasty – have won this accolade. Gary was just the fourth recipient of this award all those years ago, and in the intervening years the Farrs have, quite clearly, not rested on their laurels.
Quite the opposite. They have never ceased homing in on every detail of each site and tailoring their viticulture to it. They have always embraced the ripeness, presence and power that Geelong affords them, and have not let up in the pursuit of finesse, detail and energy to complement those natural qualities. The tension has become more palpable, the mineral nuances more pronounced. Nick has, in short, taken great vineyards, great wines and raised them to a plane of even greater exhilaration.
In the meantime, the family has also added two more close-planted wines to the top of the pyramid, with GC Chardonnay and RP Pinot Noir joining Tout Près (the next release of these arrives at the start of November), as well as spreading their wings to the Otway hinterland to produce a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Irrewarra vineyard.
This is what great wine families do. They never stop seeking and finding those minuscule tweaks that refine a vineyard’s voice or allow a wine to speak more eloquently. Nick, on the other hand, won’t be running his mouth off about winning this award. He’ll let the wine to the talking, but we’re more than proud to sing his praises, because he thoroughly deserves this!
2018 Irrewarra Chardonnay $66
Irrewarra is one of Australia’s most brilliant winemakers pushing himself further, delving into new territory and giving voice to another captivating landscape. The name is an Aboriginal term meaning “long spear throw” – and it’s partly the thrill of the hunt that drew Nick Farr to this frontier in the heart of Western District farming country, approximately 150 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. The slope is a mixture of grey sandy clay loams at the south end, to dark brown loams with fragments of buckshot and quartz gravels towards the north – all with underlying brown to yellow clays. Overall the soils remain very moist throughout the year, lending an attractive, spicy, damp-earth depth to these exceptional wines.
The Chardonnay was aged in 1/3 new, 1/3 one-year-old and 1/3 two-year-old oak.
Light straw-yellow colour, the bouquet a trifle muffled and smelling of apricot and peach fuzz. Lemon as well. The wine is bright and crisply refreshing in the mouth, with reserve and tension, nervy and long. There is softness and richness in the centre, and it is quite a satisfying wine despite its youthful reserve. Quite a delicious wine.93 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review July 2020
2017 Irrewarra Pinot Noir $66
All MV6, 100% destemmed, whole-berry ferment. 1/3 new oak, 1/3 one-year-old and 1/3 two-year-old.
Medium to light red to brick-red colour with a tinge of purple. A strongly stalk-influenced Campari-like bouquet, the palate fresh and brisk with lively acidity and gentle texture, lightness of being and charm. The acidity is rather high, but refreshes the finish. A charming wine of real complexity. There’s a lot of nuance here – albeit very bunchy, but not overdone.94 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review December 2019