Newness in wine is highly prized. New producers, styles, vintages and reviews focus the wallet, and it is a special pleasure to drink the latest releases of a treasured favourite. This is only the second release of Swinney’s wine we have been a part of and considering the newness of the producer, their achievements, evident in this release, are nothing short of remarkable. The wines are entirely classical and have a sophistication, depth, purity and uniqueness that can be found only in the most meticulous and experienced producers.
Creating a masterpiece
The artist Georges Seurat used dots, or what he called “Pointillism”, to create calm, pure, formal, classical and luminous masterpieces such as the Channel of Gravelines. The technique enabled him to create a scene that was entirely familiar to the viewer. The immense complexity, time consuming technique and the interaction of coloured dots could have been a visual disaster, more like a pizza than a work of art. However, the sublime fantasy of his scenes are full of clean surfaces, lines, perfectly worked angles and rigid formal figures. The precision of the dots provides the necessary structure and symmetry for this idealised world. But it also softens it. Rigidity can be brutal, but Seurat’s formality is exquisitely soft, luminous and bright. All the objects, from the natural world to the industrial are beautifully delineated and yet are threaded and harmonised together. Balanced.
The Swinney Signature
Have I gone off track? Tasting the very best wines provokes emotion and leads me to think of other things. The art of Georges Seurat is entirely unrelated, but the image of the Channel of Gravelines was recurring whenever I thought of the Swinney wines. Large estates work with large palettes, and it is the nurturing of the raw material and the composition of elements that determines the quality of the finished product. The wines of Swinney have the unique signature from the soil they are rooted. They are composed and are effortless to drink. Hidden behind the suave composure, is a scrupulous producer. Organic practices, dry grown, intensive fruit and shoot pruning, hand picked, hand sorted, wild and soft and long co-ferments (for “harmonious integration” and “giving up some of the control”). There are so many dots that make up these wines, but you don’t taste them.
Defining the Swinney wines
Pricing so often determines our choices and happily these wines for the moment, are terrifically great value. I do not believe there are better wines at these prices anywhere in the world, with the exception of the Hunter Valley. Critics have been very positive, but rather than splitting hairs, all the wines, except for the Farvie’s are of equal quality and I would encourage purchasing across the range, rather than just one wine with an extra point.
The Farvie’s are incredible. The Syrah is amongst the very best in the country. Grenache is fashionable at the moment, and I don’t believe there is a better one than this. They are expensive and while a few critics have claimed that they prefer the cheaper rendition, I believe that there is a significant difference. Texturally complex, detailed with the distinct impression of tasting shadows. With Farvie, you must taste deeper.
All wine lovers talk of structure, tension, line and delineation. In recent years, I have come to believe that Australian palates prefer wines that have defined structures, linear in focus, with pronounced acidity. There is a neatness to all this. Simple frames, signpost flavours and blocks of structure and texture. These wines, most wines, are easier to analyse and a determination of their quality can be made quickly. The more pronounced their components, the higher the rating. To my mind, great wines are often a challenge to all this, as it forces the taster to taste deep and to imagine what might be under the surface. So much of tasting is memory and method, prescribed process. Farvie pushes you to imagine what you can’t taste and to free yourself from your tasting methodology, process and memory. Farvie is without the tedium of stylisation. Glorious fruit, the light and shade of flavours, the laced structure, the tumbling, falling continuum of flavours and the soft tread of immense power.
The Swinney Wines
Swinney Riesling 2020 – $32. Very different from the electric and tense 2019. The 2020 is a fuller, broader style, no doubt due to the hot and very dry conditions. Juicy, succulent and very complex. Kiwi, grapefuit, honey, guava, lime, orange oil, yellow peach, jasmine and seaweed. I told you it was complex! Flamboyant and richly textured with mint coming through on the finish. Benchmark stuff and unique as ever.
Swinney Grenache 2019 – $41. Soaring floral nose of lavender, rose, five spice, sweet cherry, dark chocolate, pastille blackcurrant and thyme. Pure and silken mouthfeel, a joy to roll around. Terrific focus with cranberry, plum and cherry. Caressing tannins, that are chalky and velvet. Beautiful.
Swinney Mourvedre Syrah Grenache 2019 – $41. Fragrant lavender, pastille blackcurrant, smoke, camphor, blackberry and clove. Juicy and mouth filling palate. Incredible detail. Minerals, tight and loose threaded tannins. Lithe, buoyant and balanced. Incredibly complex and layered.
Swinney Syrah 2019 – $41. Geranium, ferrous, meaty, blackberry and cumin nose. Darker too. Tight, spicy and tense. Fascinating structure. Round, voluminous, but reeled in by spice, tannins and acidity. Apart from the dark fruits, the secondary flavours of baked capsicum, thyme and black olive offer compelling complexity. The sweet fruit balanced by a bitter twist. Truly unique and I can’t wait to revisit this in 5 years or so.
The Farvie Wines
Swinney Farvie Grenache 2019 – $145. Nose – Complex. So many flavours shadow boxing and feinting. Pot pourri, red fruits, blood orange and soy. Deep and detailed palate – a hitherto unseen level of sophistication. Richness without heaviness. Threaded acid and tannin from the front of the palate to the back. Rippled structure, not linear. Silken texture, the finest, closing to velvet. Absolute integration, with the flavours and textures falling into each othe. Disitnctive. Australia’s finest Grenache. I certainly think so.
Swinney Farvie Syrah 2019 – $145. Sweeping aromatics, overwhelmingly beautiful. Black and blue fruits with lavender. I feel the nose is a mask and yet to completely unfurl. Deep and detailed, incredibly complex and exquisite. Black, blue and red fruits. Cinnamon too. Softness and presence. Needs at least 5 years to reveal itself and I think we will be tasting something remarkable. It’s rare to find a grand wine that actually needs time. Utterly absorbing.
Prices quoted are per bottle in ANY six across our full range.