When I first encountered the name of this vineyard my first thought was along the lines of "what is or was a Squitchy"? I was informed on the winery website that its a road in Oxford England. It is where Mike Fitzpatrick, the owner of the Squitchy Lane Vineyard lived whilst a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in the 1970's. Squitchy Lane isn't alone in non-word names, a stones throw away in the valley is "Soumah".
The focus at Squitchy Lane is for quality single vineyard wines representing the land and climate of the site in each vintage.
Squitchy Lane is off Medhurst road, the driveway snaking it's way up to a fork in the road, to the left is a grand looking private residence, to the right is what I am after - the cellar door. The cellar door building stands alone in front of the vineyard, out front the sign reads "Welcome to our new cellar door".
Mike Fitzpatrick's search for a vineyard honed in on the Yarra Valley after meeting Dr John Middleton and tasting the the wines at Mount Mary. Fitzpatrick purchased the Squitchy Lane site in 1996 amongst esteemed neighbours Yarra Yering, Warramate and Coldstream Hills.
The vineyard at Squitchy Lane was planted in 1982 with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, with seven hectares under vine. The soils are yellow, grey clay loam with a pocket of gravel, where the Pinot is planted.
From 1996 until the first release of the Squitchy Lane label in 2004, the grapes were sold to local premium wineries. 2004 saw the first vintage under the Squitchy Lane label.
The new cellar door was officially opened on 11 October, only a few weeks before my visit.
Entering the cellar door, its just me and the cellar door man, whom I find out during our conversation is Steve Sadlier, the viticulturist looking after the vineyard. The wines are all lined up on the bar, time for a taste.
2012 Fumé Blanc
Wild yeast barrel fermented in french oak and left on the lees for six months. The nose has a lean flintiness, zippy fruit, perhaps under ripe passionfruit. To taste this has a zippyness of the fruit, with puckery acids and a long cleansing finish. Whilst we taste this Steve suggested that this is a great food wine, I agree.
Whole bunch pressed, wild yeast fermentation in french oak. Green melon, lemony citrus and a gentle oak toastiness on the nose. Full mouth of flavour to taste with, zesty fruit, light spiciness integrated from the subtle oak.
As we prepare to taste the 2013 Pinot, Steve lets me know that 2013 was another good vintage, the third in a row.
2013 Pinot Noir
Made from two clones fermented separately, MV6 (20% whole bunch) and 114 (destemmed and crushed into vat) with wild yeast fermentation. The nose has red berry, cherry and herbaceous spice of plums. To taste the fruit promise is delivered in a generous mouth feel, with a balanced clean finish.
2013 Peters Block Pinot Noir
Hand picked, 100% MV6 selected bunches, Steve advised that this was the first year whole bunches were added. Two weeks on skins then pressed into French oak (50% new) to mature. The fruit is more intense on the nose, still with the cherry and the spiciness of ripe blood plums with a subtle influence of the oak. To taste, this is a more generous mouthful of wine, smooth and balanced with a long and generous finish.
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Hand picked, destemmed and crushed into open fermenters, twenty days of skin maceration and wild yeast ferment. Aged in french oak for fifteen months. The nose is blood plums, cassis and cherry. Medium body on the palate with a savoury juiciness of the fruit and a pleasantly lingering finish.
2011 Red Square
Four varietals make up the "Red Square" - Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Cabernet Franc (25%), Merlot (22%) and Shiraz from the Pyrenees (8%). The grapes were destemmed and crushed in to open fermenters with wild yeast fermentation. Aged in french oak for eighteen months. The nose is ripe blood plums and cassis and a little white pepper. The flavors are delivered to the palate in a juicy, light spice yet savoury.
- The vineyard was established in 1982 with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, with seven hectares under vine.
- With the vines being over 30 years old with mature deep root systems, the vineyard is mostly dry grown, irrigating only when needed.
- The first released vintage from Squitchy Lane was in 2004, with all wines made from the estate.
- The focus of the Squitcy Lane label is quality single vineyard wines representing the land and climate of the site.
- Squitchy Lane is owned by Mike Fitzpatrick
Trivia: Mike Fitzpatrick an AFL football player lead the Carlton FC to two premiership wins. After football entered into a successful financial career, is on a number of company boards and is currently the AFL Commission Chairman.
- The Vineyard is tended to by local viticulturist Steve Sadlier
- The winemaker is Robert Paul
- There is no winery on site, the wines are made at the Medhurst winery up the road.
- The new cellar door was opened on 11 October 2014.
- The cellar door is open Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.
Squitchy Lane as a bit of an oversight on my part, I didn't have it listed on the original cellar door list. It was a "Maddens Lane Wineries" brochure I picked up during my visit to Medhurst that informed me of the Squitchy Lane vineyard and cellar door.
Undertaking what has become my routine in preparation for visiting wineries, conducting a little research by visiting the website the Squitchy Lane website, whilst informative, is a little dated with the company logo/banner graphic not loading.
The new cellar door, with the tasting bench/bar to the left of the entrance, a number of tables for visitors to sit and have a glass overlooking the vineyard and the picturesque Yarra Valley beyond. I enjoyed the insightful conversation with Steve Sadlier, who was generous with his stories and experience in the Yarra Valley. The wines present good value as far as Yarra Valley prices go for wines of this quality.
Squitchy lane's focus on quality single vineyard wines, for me means it's definitely worth the visit to taste some single vineyard wines and have a chat.