Alister Timms leads a Shadowfax team that has taken tremendous strides in the past five years, refining the range and proving its prowess with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Especially noteworthy have been the scattered high-altitude vineyards the estate manages across the Macedon Ranges.
Top of the tree is their own Little Hampton site and its plantings of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With a level of experience in the coolest region on Australia’s mainland – Al has been managing vineyards up here for 20 years now – and an unrivalled palette of vineyards to draw on, Shadowfax is beating an enthralling path. These are the vibrant future of Australia’s cool-climate wine scene.
The counterpoint to this is the dynamic Minnow project, based around the Werribee vineyard’s southern French varieties. The name is both a reflection of the grapes’ underdog status and a clever play on “Minervois”, a southern French appellation where these kinds of blends are common. It’s the source of bright, spicy, textured whites, rosé and reds to light up any bistro list.
Shadowfax Minnow Viognier was carefully grown on the renowned Malakoff Vineyard in the Pyrenees. With La Niña setting in, a cool spring and mild summer ensued. It was the coolest vintage in 10 years with good crop levels and long growing season. Grapes were hand harvested in the cool of the morning at optimum flavour ripeness.
The fruit was gently whole bunch pressed and left to settle over night prior to racking. The primary ferment took place at cooler temperatures to retain fruit aromas.It was then gravity fed into older French hogshead barrels in our underground cellar for further maturing. It was left on light lees to develop further complexity for six months prior to bottling in October 2021.
The wine is medium straw with an olive-green hue and brilliant clarity. The nose shows cantaloupe, green mango and ginger with hints of lees-derived complexity. Mandarin and cantaloupe spill onto a luscious palate. Some nougat and leesy characters add further richness. Here’s a finer version of Viognier with lovely acid back bone. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
Juicy, fleshy white wine. Lots of texture rolling around, all soft and pillowy, though a nice spine of acidity lifts and refreshes the palate here. Quince, green mango, preserved lemon. Delicious. Quietly complex. Lovely lil drink.89 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2021 Shadowfax Minnow Roussanne is a single-vineyard wine grown on our Shadowfax site in Werribee.
A cool spring set full crops. The cool trend continued into summer, allowing grapes to ripen slowly with lots of concentration. The grapes were hand harvested in the cool of the morning at optimum flavour ripeness. It was a great year to grow Minnow Roussanne.
The fruit was gently pressed as whole bunches and left to settle overnight prior to racking. The juice was gravity fed into older French hogshead barrels in our underground cellar where wild fermentation took place. It was left on light lees to develop further complexity for six months prior to bottling in early December 2021.
The wine is a light straw colour with an olive-green hue and brilliant clarity. The nose shows white florals with pithy tangelo, notes of gravelly sand and hints of lees-derived complexity. Orange fruits explode onto the palate with hints of marzipan and a touch of ginger spice. There is a great mineral core with a lovely gravelly texture and mouth-watering saline crunch. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
Roussanne, all she wanna do is party all night. Squeaky, bright white wine, ginger and tonic water things happening here with lime juice in the mix. Good get up and go, nice tickle of acidity and freshness. Juicy to an extent, finishes shiny. Easy to like. 90 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2021 Minnow Rosé is a single-site wine from the Shadowfax Vineyard in Werribee.
Good spring rains and a mild growing season led to good crop levels with lots of canopy growth in the Werribee Minnow vineyard. The Pinot Noir, Grenache and Cinsault had superb aromatics, with the Mataro and Syrah giving lovely texture and depth. Hand-harvested fruit was gently
whole bunch-pressed to give minimal colour and tannin extraction. Wild fermentation occurred in older French barrels. The wine rested on lees to relax and unwind for five months prior to assemblage and bottling in September 2021.
Pale penny copper with hints of salmon. Peaches and cream, liquorice, mandarin flesh and hints of complexing nutmeg spice. A generous mouth filling palate shows rich peaches and cream that flows on and on. The high pH gives the wine lovely mouth-coating texture and warmth. The palate is long and flowing with oodles of flavour. The fine lacy tannins frame the wine and the fine acidity keeps the palate fresh and crunchy. The 2021 Minnow Rose is a dangerously drinkable wine best enjoyed chilled with friends on a warm day. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
2021 Shadowfax Minnow Grenache Mataro is a single-vineyard wine grown on our Shadowfax site in Werribee.
It was a long, cool growing season in Werribee. A settled flowering led to good crop levels. Careful canopy management and crop thinning were required. A late summer with warm days and cool nights allowed fruit to reach full flavour ripeness, while retaining good acid structure. Fruit thinning encouraged full tannin ripeness.
This is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Mataro from our 25-year-old vines. We carefully handpicked the Grenache portion, which then went through 100% natural, whole-bunch fermentation in an open fermenter. This led to some carbonic maceration characters, such as blueberry fruit notes. The Mataro underwent wild fermentation using whole berries only, with gentle daily hand plunges to extract fine tannins. The wine was then pressed and left to rest in older French hogsheads for nine months prior to racking and bottling.
In the glass the wine is dark red to black with a ruby hue. On the nose blueberries and dark plum fruits are complexed by some briary spice. Violets, ginger and bloody notes add complexity. The fun and vibrant palate has violet and blue fruits at its core. There is a plenty of space on the palate lending this wine perfectly to a range of foods. The tannins are fine and dusty with a savoury crunch giving lovely texture and drive. The long and lingering palate remains fresh, lending itself to that second or third glass. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
2019 Shadowfax Shiraz $27
Fruit was hand picked over three weeks to capture a full spectrum of flavours. Bunches and whole berries fermented in open and static fermenters. Following pressing, the wines were matured in a mix of new and used French oak barriques and hogsheads, and were racked, blended and then lightly filtered before bottling.
On the nose the wine has cassis, ripe plums and dark olives. Savoury notes of coffee and bay leaf spice weave through the primary fruit. Rhubarb and plum give warmth and depth to the mid-palate. Fine, grown tannins balance and give structure to the generous fruit character. A touch of liquorice and coffee oak notes add to and enrich the palate. The wine shows great persistence and complexity on the finish. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
Fruit for the 2021 Shadowfax Macedon Ranges Chardonnay is grown on the Little Hampton, Midhill and Mt Macedon vineyards. A cool spring in the Macedon Ranges set medium-sized crops. A very cool summer and mild autumn led to a very long growing season. The 740m-high Little Hampton site has extra cool nights, helping to retain natural acidity in grapes that ripened late in the season with full flavour and phenolic ripeness. The Chardonnay was handpicked in small batches in the second week of May.
The grapes were firmly pressed as whole bunches to impart some skin contact and phenolic texture, releasing the full flavour profile in the process. Natural fermentation kicked off in new (28%) and older French barrels. The wine was left to unwind slowly on its ferment lees to add generosity. Every barrel was treated as its own entity, with some allowed to go through natural malolactic fermentation to add further depth. After 11 months the wine was racked and filtered prior to bottling in February 2022. Alcohol 13.4%; pH 3.31; TA 8.5g/L.
This distinctive Macedon Ranges Chardonnay bursts from the glass with white floral notes, lemon curd and nectarine fruit notes. Hints of lees-derived nougat, cream and fresh bagel notes are complemented toasty oak notes. The perfume is persistent and intriguing, belying the complex and powerful wine beneath. Lemon zest and tangerine spill immediately onto the palate. These fruit flavours are augmented by wild-ferment characters such as choux pastry and barrel-spice complexity. The wine walks a tightrope, with sherbet acidity and lime pith on a flowing palate that is long and intense. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
Fruit for the 2021 Shadowfax Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir was grown on the Little Hampton, Midhill, Big Shed, Straws Lane and Chanters Ridge vineyards.
A cool spring in the Macedon Ranges set medium-sized crops. A very cool summer and mild autumn led to a very long growing season. The 740m-high Little Hampton site has extra cool nights, helping to retain natural acidity in grapes that ripened late in the season with full flavour and phenolic ripeness. The Pinot Noir was handpicked in small batches in late April.
The fruit was carefully sorted and destemmed, with 100% whole berries going into small, open-top fermenters. Natural fermentation occurred with daily pumpovers and limited plunging to extract fine tannins and flavour. After two weeks on skins the wine was pressed and then racked into new (30%) and used French hogsheads where it rested and grew. The wine was then blended and filtered prior to bottling in February 2021.
This elegant Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir has brooding spice aromas including cardamom, star anise, sandalwood and citrus blossom. Dark cherries and wild berries give lift in the glass, as do hints of crispy bacon. The wine has intrigue and flair in the glass, evolving over time. Dark cherry and spice spill onto the palate. This generous Pinot has breadth and expanse yet shows poise from seams of ripe tannins. There is complexity galore with sandalwood and Campari spice interacting with dark plum fruits. The palate is long and persistent yet light on its feet, bringing you back for more. This is a powerful Pinot and a fine example of cool-climate, high-altitude Pinot Noir. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
The fruit is grown on the Straws Lane Vineyard, a close-planted site perched on the northern side of Mt Macedon, almost kissing the clouds at 800m above sea level. The 30-year-old vines grow on a granite outcrop, near Hesket, producing grapes with great acidity and fragrance. It’s a truly unique site among the Macedon Ranges.
We handpicked the fruit on 29th April 2020 in pristine condition. It was carefully sorted and destemmed with 100% whole berries going into small open fermenters. Natural fermentation occurred with daily hand pumpovers and limited plunging to extract fine tannins and flavour. After two weeks on skins the wine was pressed then racked into new (20%) and used French hogsheads, where it rested and grew. The wine was then blended and filtered prior to bottling in January 2020. Alcohol 12.5%; pH 3.5; TA 6.4g/L
In the glass it’s dark red with bright purple hues and brilliant clarity. This elegant Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir has violet and musk notes, with fine spice aromas including dried sage and cardamom. Mixed wild berries set a brooding tone, while notes of graphite powder and raspy grapeseed oil add complexity. The wine has intrigue and flair in the glass, if you can let it rest, telling a story as it evolves through time.
Cherry and violet tones fill the palate. There’s complexity galore, some cherry pit, mocha warmth and cardamon all sitting on a precise palate of lacy fine tannins with a lovely acid core. The wine’s tightrope frame and finesse are a highlight. The palate is long and persistent. This is a fine example of cool-climate, single-vineyard, high-altitude Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir. – Al Timms, Shadowfax
Spice, sap, really lifted aromas of cherry, blue fruits, sarsaparilla, brambles and whole-bunch lift. Bright and crunchy on the palate, blueberry, red cherry, dried herbs, spice and plenty of crunchy, lively acidity. Firm and structured tannins provide mouth-feel, texture and savouriness. Long and layered.95 points. Aaron Brasher, The Real Review