Taking my own advice (in the previous post) about doing a little research before arriving at the vineyard, I looked up Seville Hill's website to arrive informed so I could ask better questions. Pleasingly the website contains an insightful amount of information including history, current ownership, the wines, vineyard information and the hospitality offerings of the location.
The air when I drove through the gates at Seville Estate was blustery and blowy on the Sunday afternoon in late September. The wines though, were certainly fragrant and delicious to taste. But don't take my word for it, with the recent haul of medals and trophies at the 2014 Yarra Valley Wine Show for their 2103 Reserve Chardonnay.
Dr Peter McMahon a GP in Lillydale and his wife Margaret planted the first vines at Seville Estate property in 1972. Planting chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, Seville Estate was the first vineyard established in the Upper Yarra Valley on the volcanic red soils.
Seville Estate is another of the "re-pioneering" vineyards in the Yarra Valley, as part of a distinct second act of winemaking in the Yarra Valley which places it in the company of Mount Mary (Dr John Middleton), Yarra Yering (Dr Bailey Carrodus), Yeringberg (Dr Guill De Pury) and Wantirna Estate (Reg Egan).
In the first decade the wines that received the most attention were the Shiraz and Riesling establishing a reputation as one of the Yarra Valley's premier wine producers.
In 1997 after 26 years the McMahon's sold the controlling interest in Seville Estate to Robert Hawkins & Iain Riggs of Brokenwood (Hunter Valley, NSW).
Dr Peter and Margaret McMahon's grandson Dylan McMahon working with winemakers Iain Riggs and Alistair Butt, took on the head winemaker role at Seville Estate in 2004 and continues in this role to this day.
In 2014 Yarra Valley Wine Show, Seville Estate picked up the following trophy's for their 2013 Reserve Chardonnay:
- Trophy - Best Chardonnay
- Trophy - Best Singly Vineyard White Wine
- Trophy - Best White Wine of Show
- Trophy - Champion Wine of Show
In addition the 2013 Reserve Chardonnay was awarded 97 points and awarded - Top Regional Pointed Chardonnay in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge
Arriving at the cellar door there was a bit happening with a 60th birthday in the 'Aspect' function space, along with a few people at the cellar door tasting bar and the adjoining cafe. Behind the tasting bar was Graham Van Der Meulen, sitting out front was 'Betty' the winery dog keeping a close eye on proceedings. A warm greeting and an offer to have a taste we started proceedings with the recently disgorged (about a week before the visti) Blanc de Blanc.
2011 Seville Estate Blanc de Blanc
100% Chardonnay 30% barrel ferment, on lees for 15 months with zero dosage at disgorging. Floral nose with a toasty biscuityness. Tasting is creamy, melon and light citrus with a lingering clean finish.
2013 Estate Chardonnay
Whole bunch pressed, wild yeast ferment in oak barrels (30% new oak for complexity) with 10 months on lees, no malolactic ferment. Elegant light nose, white flower perfume and under ripe honeydew. To taste I picked up a hint of under ripe apricot (that crunch greenness), citrus, light toasty oak and clean finish.
2011 Reserve Chardonnay
Same vinificaiton as the Estate Chardonnay the difference being this wine is selected by barrel selection (best barrels of vintage). On the sniff: light perfumed nose, more oak. To taste apricot, integrated oak and a long citrus, zesty, turning green apple cleansing finish.
2013 Estate Riesling
Whole bunch pressed into older (ex Chardonnay) barrels for wild yeast barrel ferment and on lees for 10 months. Very light nose, perfumed, to taste this is a light textual wine with floral and lime citrus with an elevated lip-smacking fresh green apple finish.
The Barber 2013 Rosé
75% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel wild yeast ferment. A berry sweetness on the nose, light mouthfeel, pepperyness and spice late on the palate clean fresh finish.
2012 Estate Pinot Noir
Fruit is hand picked and de-stemmed with 20% whole bunch added into open fermenters to start wild yeast fermentation, with the cap being hand plunged daily. French oak barrel maturation (30% new oak) with minimal handling. The sniff: spices on nose with a berry sweetness. Light on the palate yet with a fullness in the mouthfeel, with fruit, spices and light tannins.
2012 Reserve Pinot Noir
First year that the fruit 100% sourced from the 1972 planting, hand picked and de-stemmed with 20% whole bunch added into open fermenters to start wild yeast fermentation, with the cap being hand plunged daily. French oak barrel maturation (50% new oak) with minimal handling. The old vines produce smaller berries, pulling more intensity from the deeper root penetration. The nose: deep berry, red/black currents. Fuller generous mouthfeel, a beautiful wine.
2011 Estate Shiraz
Hand picked and sorted fruit in the vineyard, de-stemmed leaving 20% whole bunches into open fermenters. Wild yeast ferment, hand plunged cap daily for 7 days. Into (60% new) French oak barrels for 12 months. Graham advised that the 2011 vintage was a wet one, which translated to more savoury characteristics in the Shiraz. Nose: perfumed fruit and light pepper spiciness. Delicious light savoury shiraz with berries and white pepper spice.
2011 Old Vine Reserve Shiraz
100% old (1972) vines, hand picked and sorted fruit in the vineyard, de-stemmed leaving 30% whole bunches into open fermenters. Wild yeast ferment, hand plunged cap daily for 7 days. Into (60% new) french oak barrels for 12 months. Nose: deep fruit, spice notably pepper. Generous mouth weight, full flavour of the fruit yet soft and savoury, leaning into the pepper and spice with a lingering clean finish.
Note: I enquired about the addition of whole bunch to the destemmed grapes to the fermenter, Graham advised that they added whole bunches in 2009 as it was a poor vintage, and continued the practice since with good vintages in recent years.
2012 Old Vine Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
As the name suggests, again this is a wine made from the 1972 plantings. Graham advised that this wine is only made in exceptional vintages. The nose of bright fruit, spice and a whiff of sweet tobacco. A mouthful of fruit on the palate with light spice, a hint of earthy tobacco, tannins and acid running long providing a lingering savoury finish. Advised this would age around 30 years.
- The Vineyard was established by Dr Peter and Margaret McMahon in 1972.
Trivia: Dr McMahon shared a surgery in Lillydale with Dr John Middleton (founder of Mount Mary).
- The current owners since 2005 are Graham and Margaret Van Der Meulen
- The winemaker is Dylan McMahon, grandson of the founders.
- The vines face north-east
- First vines planted in 1972 using a T-trellis system to manage the vigorous growth of the vines due to the red & grey volcanic soils which lay over a clay base. In 1996 additional blocks were planted using the more efficient Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) system.
- Substantially dry grown, the vines are irrigated only when the vines show extreme stress
- A total of 20 acres are under vine, consisting of:
- 6 acres Chardonnay
- 6 acres Shiraz
- 5 acres Pinot Noir
- 1 acres old vine Shiraz
- 1 acres old vine Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 acres old vine Riesling
- Seville Estate releases three 'tiers' or range of wines and a premium release wine:
- The Barber Range - sourcing different varieties outside the estate, this range provides additional varieties and wine styles particularly made with the intention of freshness for early release.
- The Estate Range - sourced only from the Seville Estate vineyard, hand picked and sorted, these wines are expressions of the site.
- The Reserve Range - estate selected parcels mainly from the 1972 plantings, expressing the best the site has to offer. These wines are only release in vintages meeting stringent requirements and are made for longevity.
- Dr McMahon - a premium Shiraz made 100% from the old vines with meticulous care from vineyard to winery to bottle.
- Seville Estate is one of James Halliday's "Top 100 Australian Wineries"
- The cellar door is open from 10am to 5pm 7 days per week
- The 'Aspect' function space caters to functions up to 130 people
- The Cafe space offers seasonal fare and is open Friday to Monday 10am to 5pm, Saturday nights are available for private groups (15 or more people)
- The Vineyard, Winery and Cellar door surround a private residence.
It's great that a vineyard with the story of Seville Estate being one of the 're-founding' wineries in the valley is open to the public with a cellar door. I say this because of the identified wineries established in this period only 2 of 5 have open to the public cellar doors, these being Yarra Yering and Seville Estate.
The quality and value of the wines on tasting are fantastic, whilst it was informative on how the soils and climate (cooler in the Upper Yarra than the valley floor) influences are present in the wines. As with many of the cellar doors I have visited to date the reception and hospitality is genuinely friendly, welcoming and educating, a visit to Seville Estate ticking all boxes.
My typical routine when visiting a winery is to wander around, get a sense of the place, being respectful of the location (never walk amongst the vineyard without expressed permission) take some photo's and head into the cellar door for a taste and a chat. When visiting Seville Estate the visitor parking is off to the left, you then need to walk across the front of the private residence to the cellar door, the challenge was understanding the boundaries between public space (cellar door) and private residence, there isn't any signage to inform a visitor.
Inside the cellar door, a modern facility, the presence of trophies and awards the wines produced here have earned is impressive. As I do keep an eye out for the story of place represented in the cellar door, there were limited pieces informing a visitor of the history of the vineyard and the stories accumulated over the years. The Seville Estate website has a wealth of information for the enthusiast to attain information about the site, the founder, the current owners, and the philosophy for which the vineyard is tendered and the wines made.
The views are beautiful from the cellar door over the valley toward the Dandenongs (final image of the photo gallery above). With the history, the quality and authenticity of the wines, the educational hospitality, what's not to like about stopping in and tasting a bit of Yarra Valley wine history.
Next time I visit, I will make sure to stop at Seville Hill for lunch as the food on offer (judging by the menu - image below) looks very appealing, particularly the pie or the five spice duck.
65 Linwood Road
Seville, 3139 Victoria
Ph: (03) 5964 2622