VALUE & VALUES
Given the last three years, it may come as no great surprise that the 2022 Collins Dictionary Word of the Year was awarded to, ‘permacrisis.’ Describing an extended period of instability, I feel permacrisis also makes a suitable title for this current chapter in the history of humanity. It’s not hard to imagine this is a chapter that begins during the first moments of 2020, as fireworks fade into the bushfire smoke blanketing Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Of course, the forces that led to this period of apparently unending turmoil were seeded many years prior. Be it the greenhouse gas emissions bellowing from the pipes of industrialisation, the wealth divide that came from the rise of free market economies, or the vulnerabilities inherent with a rapidly growing and highly connected global population.
No doubt though, each of these developments helped to bring about an era of unprecedented progress for humanity. There are fewer empty stomachs than ever before, more of us can read and write, and the vast majority of the population enjoy the security of sleeping with roofs over their heads. We live longer and healthier, amassing more wealth and knowledge in a lifetime than one could have ever imagined just one or two generations ago.
However, it now feels like the bill for this wonderous period has been pushed across the table. The price is writ large in the irresistible forces of climate change, the global pandemic, geopolitical upheaval, a widening social divide, and economic turmoil (to name but a few). In this decade and those beyond, we will all be asked to pay the price in one way or another.
Despite being the canary in the coalmine of climate change (forgive the pun), the wine industry offers a life rich in passion, creativity, and connectedness – to the land and its people. Perhaps then, it’s no surprise that despite the difficult situation we find ourselves in, I remain an optimist carrying a glass that’s always more than half full. This is why I reflect on the fact that at any point in human history, we see that adversity has invariably led to innovation.
This means that a time of permacrisis is also one of perma-opportunity (my own word of the year!). We have already seen a new era of medicine emerge from the fog of the pandemic – one of almost limitless potential. In response to climate change, and our efforts to rapidly decarbonise, renewable energy is now cheaper, more efficient, and more prolific than ever before. And, on a social level, we are finally starting to have the conversation about bridging the socio-economic chasms in society; be that via housing policy, educational opportunities, workplace reform, or moves toward greater gender and racial equality.
Supported by the technological revolution, first led by the creation of the internet and now encompassing robotics and AI, future possibilities for innovation in response to the myriad of challenges we face seem endless.
In 2020, the accountants and I tore up the five-year plan. I now navigate the choppy waters of this decade with a compass in hand rather than a map. The compass is calibrated to our values, and those values determine the direction in which we sail. Our business is built on the principles of quality, continual improvement, and innovation – underpinned by sustainability and it’s three pillars. These philosophies ride alongside other deeply human values that we hold close; creativity, integrity, and leadership.
As we navigate our way through the latest crisis to break the surface, stubbornly high inflation and the threat of a global recession, we are all questioning the value of our consumption. My hope is that we bring to you a brand with values that align to your sense of value. I hope that you continue to enjoy world class wine tasting experiences at our cellar doors, and an exciting, flexible, and responsive wine club offering. I hope that you feel connected to our mission, and a sense of pride in supporting our social and environmental sustainability efforts. But most importantly, I hope that you continue to enjoy a glass of wine that makes you smile.
I wish you all the best for 2023!
The third consecutive La Niña finally seems to be loosening her soggy grip, and it’s just in time for the 2023 harvest!
Record rainfall in September and October meant this season’s early growing conditions were very difficult. Ground conditions were so bad in parts of the Hunter, that aerial spraying from helicopters was given special approval. Our growers battled through the boggy vineyard rows to get time-critical fungicide sprays onto the fledgling canopies in order to prevent later mildew and botrytis infections. By and large our vineyards came through those early months in remarkably good health, and now find themselves flourishing in the warmest and driest conditions we’ve enjoyed in some years.
However, to ensure we didn’t become at all complacent, Mother Nature sent the Hunter a hailstorm in early January. Due to the early stage of berry development, and the healthy canopies offering protection, the impact on the vineyards was relatively mild. At worst, we saw crop losses of around 5%. However, with some scarring and damage now there, the grapes will be more vulnerable to fungal disease should the wet weather return.
For now though, the sun is shining and the warm days are providing ideal ripening conditions. Should this weather prevail, we will be on track for a high-quality harvest across the Hunter, Hilltops, Canberra District and Yarra Valley.
A DEFINING WINE
Late last year we took another bold step forward with the launch of the M BURTON Riesling I. Treading a similar path to its sibling, the M BURTON Shiraz, this exciting new release sets about taking Riesling in an entirely new and uncharted direction.
Production brings together small parcels of wine spanning five vintages, with the grapes harvested in Murrumbateman and Gundaroo in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022. Individual batches received differing treatments in the winery; some were fermented as cloudy juice, others highly clarified. This extended into a variety of approaches toward maturation, including storage in stainless steel tanks or old oak barrels, and with or without the presence of yeast lees. The idea was to weave an incredibly complex and vibrant tapestry – a wine boasting a myriad of aromas, flavours and textures. While we were unshackled from the linearity of a single vintage, we remained focussed on variety and region. And it is in this commonality across the various parcels where harmony is found.
Thus far, response to the M BURTON Riesling has been nothing short of humbling. Great reviews have already been published from wine writers including Huon Hooke, John Lewis, Angus Hughson, Ken Gargett, and Regan Drew. In his glowing 96-point review, Regan goes on to summarise the M BURTON Riesling I as, “…A striking and stunning wine. Genre defining and defying.” What more could we ask for?
There were only 600 bottles of the landmark M BURTON Riesling I produced, and they have almost disappeared. You can secure yours via our website here. For every bottle of M BURTON sold, we donate five dollars to Path 2 Change, to support their efforts in breaking the cycle of youth homelessness. In addition, we plant a tree with 15 Trees to help regenerate natural habitats and reduce our carbon footprint.
Speaking of exciting new arrivals, we’ve had something quietly simmering in the background for some time now. Just prior to Christmas, we launched our very first range of Gundog branded, and wine-infused, gourmet products!
The initial offering includes a Blueberry & Shiraz Jam, Smoking Barrel Red Caramelised Onions, Fig & Pinot Chutney, a Wild Semillon Sweet Chili Sauce and, for pasta lovers, a Pinot Noir Puttanesca.
Those with furry four-legged friends might also be excited to discover the new Gundog Estate Tail Ale – a specially crafted ‘beer’ for dogs! In fact, it’s actually more of a health elixir – a powdered beef-marrow broth designed to aid digestion and promote gut health – something for your pooch to enjoy while you sip on a Gundog Hunting Ale of your own!
You (and your furry friends) can discover this exciting new range of culinary delights when you next visit one of our cellar doors, or by placing an order via our website here.
VISITING IN 2023
With the last of the Covid restrictions lifting in 2022, we’ve happily welcomed many of you back to our cellar doors in the Hunter and Gundaroo (some more than once!). For those who are planning their next visit, there are some exciting discoveries in addition to the line-up of current vintage and museum releases.
At the Cork St Cellar, you now have a chance to order one of our ‘Wine Flights,’ featuring a themed selection from the Gundog Estate, Burton McMahon, and Indomitus ranges. These wine flights pair beautifully with the selection of lunch dishes on offer in the cellar door, prepared by our very talented neighbours, Grazing Restaurant.
In the Hunter, we’ve recently launched our delicious Small Plates menu. Designed to enhance your wine tasting experience, these tasty bites highlight some of the region’s best local produce. Trust me, the Sydney Rock Oysters lift our Hunter Semillons to new heights!
When you are planning your next visit, we recommend booking via one of the links below or over the phone, so you don’t miss a spot during busier times. And remember, Wine Club members and up to four guests enjoy wine tastings free of charge!
Hunter Cellar Door (Pokolbin) bookings here or 02 4998 6873
Cork St Cellar (Gundaroo) bookings here or 02 6236 8276
THE LIVED EXPERIENCE
Path 2 Change is a Newcastle based NFP who do amazing work to break the cycle of youth homelessness and disadvantage by facilitating education and employment opportunities. Eager to see meaningful change in our local community, we partnered with Path 2 Change in 2018, and the relationship has yielded many amazing results since.
Needless to say, we are delighted to welcome the next instalment of The Lived Experience Shiraz after the first release quickly disappeared from the shelves! The 2021 vintage is a unique blend of Shiraz from the Yarra Valley, Hilltops and Hunter Valley. Each of these regions lend a unique personality to the wine, with the resulting blend offering complexity and drinkability in equal measure. Once again, The Lived Experience wears the beautifully designed and hand-drawn label created by a Path 2 Change staff member who has experienced homelessness.
By donating 100% of the profits generated from its sale, The Lived Experience has become our single most important fundraising pathway. The wine is available at both of our cellar doors or online here.
If you would like to learn more about our partnership with Path 2 Change, you can read more and view a short but highly moving video here.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
After three long years, it was fabulous to host our much-loved members events once again in 2022! The team has since been working hard to finalise details for this year’s line-up and we are pleased to advise the following dates and locations:
- Lunch at Pony Dining at The Rocks – April 29 & 30
- Lunch at the Hunter Winery – August 12
- Lunch at Agnes (Brisbane) – September 23
- Dinner at OTTO Woolloomooloo – November 9
Invitations to attend will be sent out approximately 6 weeks prior to each event.
We are also close to finalising a full calendar our very popular Sunday Sounds events at the Cork St Cellar in Gundaroo – check out the line-up below. With fabulous local music, great food from Grazing Restaurant, and some pretty decent wine – these events are fantastic opportunity to experience the best Cork St has to offer!
BURTON McMAHON LEADS THE CHARGE
We enjoyed another year of humbling critical acclaim in the 2023 edition of the Halliday Wine Companion – widely regarded as Australia’s bible of wine.
Not only did we retain our highly coveted 5 Red Star winery rating, but there were also no fewer than 7 wines receiving a score of 94 points and above. Of particular note were both of the 2021 Burton McMahon Chardonnays, with the D’Aloisio Vineyard receiving an incredible 97 points, and the George’s 94. Not to be outdone, the Syme Pinot was rated 96, and the George’s Pinot 95. This was far and away our most successful showing of the Burton McMahon range! Other highlights included our 2021 ‘The Chase’ Semillon on 95 points, and the 2021 Wild Semillon with 94.
Considering the difficulties of the last two seasons, I think there is definite cause for celebration!
2022 WILD SEMILLON
In the Wild Semillon, we consistently aim to deliver a fresh, modern, and exotic take on a classic Hunter variety, quite at odds with traditional styles and winemaking practices. The Wild Semillon is a unique, balanced, and textural wine that emphasises versatility.
In terms of blend components, we have parcels clean fermented in tank (not all to dryness), other portions cloudy in barrel, and the remainder of the blend fermented and matured on 30% skins. Contrasting vineyard sites and winemaking processes present us with an exciting array of options when it comes time to blend. Despite the extremes of individual component styles, we are ultimately looking to achieve an impressively cohesive wine, boasting immediate balance and appeal.
Drink now or cellar until 2027.
“With endearing jasmine, white tea and lemongrass hints that segue into a sensational, mellifluous palate, this wine transports your taste buds to a better place in moments…Unlike some of the brittle, eternally youthful examples that follow, Wild Semillon impresses from the very moment it is born. This is a testament to winemaker Matt Burton’s skill at building mid-palate succulence without sacrificing an ounce of drama on the finish.” Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines
2022 ‘THE CHASE’ SEMILLON
Our 2022 release of ‘The Chase’ Semillon is produced from fruit grown on old vines at the Brycefield and Tinkler’s School Block Vineyards in Pokolbin. Both are situated on light clay-loam soils.
Detail, precision, and purity are the key themes driving this wine for us. Later ripening, resulting from the cooler season, mean there is great resolve in terms of flavour and balance. The naturally low pH’s and higher acidity meant there was minimal need for adjustment in the winery. As such, I feel the 2022 release presents as vibrant, textural, and expressive.
Winemaking revisions are minor from year-to-year for ‘The Chase’; we pressed gently (only taking the first 450-550 litres per ton) then, following a cool fermentation, we racked from heavy lees, and allowed the wine to mature slightly cloudy in tank for two months, to flesh out and bring a sense of cohesiveness to the palate. Very little fining was required before bottling as the small amount of residual phenolic material helped to shape and add weight to the wine.
Drink now or cellar to 2032.
“…The top dog of the Gundog Semillon range you could say, it’s dripping with lemons and limes plus some green apples and cut herb. Those apples wind up and gain some fabulous momentum through the mouth. Clean and crisp, the whip-crack of acidity screams for sunny days. A fab wine ready for those weekend wind-downs.” 93 Points – Qwine
The 2021 Hilltops Shiraz No.2 is sourced from the Roger Clark’s picturesque vineyard in Boorowa. Occupying a cooler microclimate, ripening here occurs more slowly, but flavour arrives at lower sugar levels. This means Shiraz from this site is slightly more floral and elegant in shape than we usually expect from the region.
In the winery, the machine harvested fruit is chilled to tank for a short cold soak period, followed by a warm to hot fermentation, which usually runs for 5 to 7 days. We then press to 500 litre French oak puncheons, 25% of which are new. Maturation occurs over 14 months, with the wine racked once prior to blending and bottling.
Drink now or cellar to 2028
“…Plump, despite the low alcohol, it has all sorts of earthen savouriness going on – mushroom bone broth over forest berries. A Pinot Noir lovers shiraz, complete with pan juices and a whisper of whole bunches then a mid weight, spice edged palate. It’s like a baby Cornas! Interest and flavour here. Quite an amazing wine really.” 93 Points – Andrew Graham
2021 RARE GAME SHIRAZ
The ultimate representation of our pursuit of Hunter Burgundy is the Rare Game Shiraz.
Built on the sacred terroir of the Tinkler’s ‘48 Block’ (once part of the historic Lindeman’s Ben Ean vineyard), the Rare Game seeks to defy the laws of chemistry (and logic) by offering a level of flavour intensity, texture, and length that belies its medium bodied frame and modest alcohol content – and that’s just the beginning. In the Rare Game, we expect more and more as it ages gracefully in the bottle. The rich layers of complexity that emerge from the seemingly humble foundation, over the 10 plus years we ask of it, goes to the very heart of what gets us excited about this globally unique expression of Shiraz. Long live Hunter Burgundy!
Drink now or cellar to 2031.
“…The palate ripples with black fruits that take on fennel and dry spice. Tannins coat the mouth and enjoy the influence of dark chocolate and fresh earth. There is enjoyable oak induced richness to finish with the fruit and acid to reward decades in the cellar.” 96 Points – Patrick Eckel
SHARE YOUR #GUNDOGMOMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A THREE PACK
Share a photo of your “Gundog Wine Moment” on Facebook or Instagram for a chance to win a three pack of Gundog Estate wine!
Simply mention @gundogestate and/or #gundogmoment in your post and we will contact you via direct message if your picture wins.
Entrants must be 18 years or over to enter. The winning picture is selected at the end of each quarter (March, June, Sept, Dec). An entry is only valid for the duration of the quarter submitted and you can enter as many times as you like.