Leogate Estate – thoroughly modern Hunter
Leogate Estate is one of the newer names in the Hunter Valley’s Pokolbin area, but is based on a famous established vineyard – Brokenback. The Brokenback was part of Len Evans’s Rothbury Estate and the vines, on Broke Road, are now 40-plus years old. The property, with 65 hectares under vines, was bought in 2008 by Bill and Vicki Widin, Angus cattle producers from north-western NSW. They initially leased the former Tempus Two winery on the corner of Broke and McDonalds Roads, Pokolbin, but recently they built their own winery on-site, as well as a cellar door and restaurant (I’m sure the beef is first-rate).
Winemaker Mark Woods has prior experience at Briar Ridge (tastings) and Pepper Tree (tastings). Vineyard manager is Mick Burgoyne, who previously worked for Brian McGuigan. The wines I’ve tasted recently have impressed me deeply, especially the reds, all made from shiraz, under various labels.
At the base is the Leogate Brokenback Shiraz ($40) and the 2013 (tasting) is a ripper. At the same price is a lovely shiraz viognier named Dirt Boys’ Choice (tasting). Just who the dirt boys are and why they have a choice isn’t explained, but we can safely assume they’re the guys who work in the vineyard. Then we move up to two sensational reserve-style wines, The Basin Reserve (the 2011 – tasting and ’13 – tasting are both outstanding) and Western Slopes Reserve (tasting) – both $115 and, I assume, fairly limited in quantity. These are powerful, intense, but also elegant, traditional Hunter-style shirazes, with gently handled oak and fine tannins, and an occasional touch of the sooty, charcoal character that I often smell in well-made, sensitively oaked (so that the fruit can express itself) modern Hunter shiraz. By the way, the ’11 The Basin Reserve won a trophy at the 2014 International Wine Challenge in London.
Semillon is a minor variety in the vineyard but the wines are also excellent. Tasting notes for the 2010, ‘11 and ’13 semillons will be posted on this site within two weeks. Equally good are the chardonnays: the 2012 Vicki’s Choice Reserve (tasting) and 2013 Creek Bed Reserve (both $38 – tasting) are fine examples. These are understated and fruit-driven: again, excellent modern Hunter renditions. I commend them to you.