Tyrrell’s buy Old Hillside vineyard

Chris Tyrrell of Tyrrell’s Wines (Photo: via Pinterest)

The Tyrrell family has bought a prized lower Hunter Valley property, the Old Hillside vineyard, from which it makes Stevens Single Vineyard Semillon and Shiraz, as well as the Tyrrell’s The Old Patch Shiraz. Tyrrell’s Wines claims The Old Patch is the oldest block of producing shiraz vines in the Hunter. It was planted in 1867.

Chris Tyrrell said the purchase was “something that has been in the pipeline for a while”. He also agreed that the previous week’s news of Thomas Wines buying Braemore was great news, particularly as the buyers of both are local families.

In a perfect world, the greatest vineyards should be in the hands of the greatest winemakers, but this is by no means always the reality. In these two examples, the planets are in alignment.

When it was pointed out to Chris that this year is the 150th anniversary of The Old Patch being planted, he mentioned that next year there would be a celebration for the 160th anniversary of Tyrrell’s Wines itself.

The vendors, Neil and Bernadette Stevens, have worked with the Tyrrell family to produce single vineyard wines since 1993.

The company also said there are 11 blocks of vineyard over 100 years old on their own roots in the Hunter Valley, and this sale means the Tyrrell family owns seven of those blocks.

The vineyard, on Marrowbone Road, Pokolbin, covers 13.52 hectares of which 6.11 hectares are planted solely to shiraz.

While the 1.1 hectares of The Old Patch were planted in 1867, the remainder of the vineyard was planted in 1968. Tyrrell’s says The Old Patch vines would almost certainly have been planted from first generation cuttings from the Busby collection, and are the oldest producing vines in NSW.

Postscript: early this month I was fortunate enough to taste the 2009 The Old Patch Shiraz, and thought it a magnificent wine, just starting to enter its peak drinking window, with another 25 to 30 years ahead of it. At least. I scored it 98.

*Another major winery transaction: in the Clare Valley, an 80% share of Kilikanoon has been sold to Chinese company Changyu Pioneer. Changyu is a well-established business specialising in wine. Kilikanoon, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, has enjoyed impressive success in wine shows.

Clare’s Northern Argus quoted founder and chief winemaker Kevin Mitchell as saying,

“They are the perfect partner for us. We are very flattered to be chosen, it’s wonderful.”

Mitchell is reportedly staying on as chief winemaker and Warrick Duthy as managing director, while long-term shareholder and Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist Nathan Waks will no longer be a shareholder.

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