McLeish Unleashes at Sydney Royal


I love it when people who deserve success, achieve success. Dave Neyle and Bob McLeish achieved major success at the Sydney Royal Wine Show last week, but you probably haven’t heard of either of them. The trophy night was notable for the fact that small – call them boutique, if you like – wineries achieved as much success as the big*.

Neyle’s 5-hectare vineyard is Lobethal Road (tastings), in the Adelaide Hills. Lobethal Road won three trophies for its 2012 shiraz ($25), including best shiraz, best red wine, and the big one, the Macquarie Group Perpetual Trophy for best wine of show. The wine is a lovely smooth, supple, fleshy, ripe-flavoured shiraz with the subtlest spiciness, lots of fruit-sweetness and silken, supple tannins. For a two-year-old, it drinks remarkably well already. Dave Neyle is a viticulturalist with 24 years’ experience, who worked with Fred Peacock in Tasmania at his Bream Creek vineyard before he and his partner Inga Lidums decided to buy land and plant vines at Mt Torrens in the Adelaide Hills in 1998. Their first vintage was 2001. Their wines are made by local contract winemaker Michael Sykes. Neyle is a man who knows how to grow grapes. Yes, he has his wine made by someone else, but he is not a fly-by-night Macquarie Street (King William Street?) winemaker who owns a brand but nothing else.

Bob McLeish’s story is similar, although the region is the Hunter Valley. His 2007 McLeish Estate Semillon ($65) (tastings) won four trophies: best aged white, best single vineyard wine, best small producer wine, and best NSW wine. Robert and Maryanne McLeish established their 11-hectare vineyard in 1985 in the De Beyers Road area of Pokolbin, and the long-standing winemaker is the talented Andrew Thomas (tastings), who’s been making the wines ever since he left Tyrrell’s (tastings) in the late ‘90s. McLeish describes Thomas a genius, and I would not disagree, except to point out that the quality of the grapes delivered to the winemaker cannot be improved upon. So, raise a glass to the vineyard guys, Bob McLeish and Dave Neyle!

*The trophies were evenly split between big (17 trophies) and small (15) with Tahbilk somewhere in-between, with its ’05 1927 Vines Marsanne (tasting) winning best ‘other’ white varietal. 

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