There is always a lot of fun associated with a Boireann tasting: you know there is a gem of a wine to be discovered every year, and maybe not the same lineage as the previous year.
To new readers Boireann is the meticulous handicraft of Peter and Therese Stark who make their wine totally on their special site, a vineyard 5km off the main highway Brisbane-Wallangarra at the Summit if travelling south to NSW. Their vineyard is almost four times the elevation of the Lower Hunter Valley.
That means rows of grapes each side of the small road into the property, a small tasting area to visit and buy and adjoining is controlled storage where all the bottles are hand laid out in bays before packing up for visiting buyers.
Behind the cellars is Peter’s vintage area and a temperature-controlled barrel shed. It’s all very simple because what you see is what you get: all grown under your eyes, spending time in barrel from April until February, then bottled under screw cap before the next vintage and rested until sale in the third quarter of the year. That means 2009 reds are now on offer.
Each side of the road way are multiple varieties: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, shiraz, barbera, nebbiolo, tannat, pinot noir, mourvedre, petit verdot, there was grenache but Peter chopped it off to replace with a brunello clone of sangiovese. And two rows of viognier to co-ferment with shiraz.
There is a first impression which will stay with you forever after tasting a Boireann. The wines are muscular, so Peter has that knack of extracting the last vestige of flavour and varietal intensity in each wine. The wines will be deeper flavoured and fruit concentrated, and therefore with greater backbone than their equivalents elsewhere around the area.
That really means you buy wine in its infancy, and really need to age some to watch the flowering process. Restaurant Two in Brisbane lists the 2002 Boireann Cabernet Sauvignon – that’s from a marvellous and unforgettable Granite Belt vintage, still fresh and vibrant without any sign of softening tannins – it’s still tense.
So Boireann has its own sense of place – The Summit, and a special vineyard which gives it the terroir that many in the know now respect. Wines simply sell out by late in the year, then no more for another year.
Pinot Noir 2009; 90, USD 26,14%, this has amazing colour, obviously the vineyard site is conducive to vine balance so that grape ripeness is rewarding; intensly pinot in the spice direction, palate is muscular, crunchy yet fruit flavourful, power in the mouth and needing some time to settle, when it does, what a reward, will never be a simply cherry juice style like the Yarra; made to stay, stern on alcohol.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2009; 94, USD 22.75, 14.5%, has good not exceptional colour, the impressive aspect is the ripeness, it is all there in the spice/cherry spectrum, and without leafiness in a testing growing year. Well done. The palate is a trifle herbal, not green with great tannin firmness that I expect of Boireann; without it there is little structure and less ageworthiness.
The Lurnea 2009; 95; USD 25.50, 13.5%, 30% cabernet, 30% merlot, 20% franc, 20% petit verdot; good/great colour, such an exciting nose from the franc perfume and verdot aromatics, this must taste good, mocha oak sweetness, medium bodied, nicely textured and rounded together as a flavour experience. Similar tannin weight to the cabernet but more complex and structured, backbone and a trifle more acid to settle in.
Merlot Petit Verdot 2009; 90, USD 20 , 13.2%, 70% merlot, 30% petit verdot; when merlot does not wish to stand alone, why do so, and in a testy ripening year like 2009 when grapes can stay leafy-flavoured, this wine leaps out from the verdot portion which is not insignificant.
Estate Shiraz 2009; 94, USD 41, 13.2%, what magnificent colour, deep wine, serious, nose of spice and cedar which is hard to lose, entry is sweet and soft, spice city, rich soft, and elegant as silk. The resounding acidity points to long aging. No viognier this year as the frost go it.
Mourvedre Shiraz 2009; 92, USD 27,13.5%, 50% mourvedre, 40% shiraz, 10% tannat; great colour, stains my glass, emphatic nose of black fruits, mourvedre on the prowl and consuming the flavours of the other two varieties; monster and so is the tannin from both the mourvedre and tannat; length and crunch, keep 10-20 years.
Therese Stark has cleverly corralled the Italian varietals into the La Cima (chima phonetically), meaning “pinnacle”.
La Cima Barbera 2009; 90, USD 25.50, 14%; has great colour, liberal oak and more cedary than the Piedmontese, blackberry pip fruit flavours, nice violets and typical acid cut to soften the final flavours.
La Cima Nebbiolo 2008; 92, USD 27, 13.5%; in true nebbiolo style the colour is washed, some orange with the pinks, nose still rosey and fragrant, shows some sweet complexity, this wine aged an extra year over the other releases to gain nose power and tame the tannins more, it still has plenty but a very fine example of this variety meant to tease the palate of all comers.
This year for the first time, all wines were sealed under screw cap for better buyer guarantees. Of course the down side of a screw cap focussed country is that glass bottles that hold a cork finish become rare (imported) and therefore expensive. In today’s carbon credit environment locally-made glass is a good result and less miles.
Peter Stark expresses his thoughts on the 2009 season: “2009 season started with spring frosts which took most of the viognier, tannat, barbera and nebbiolo. The growing season was cool, but pretty good weather. Vintage was cool, cloudy and a few showers. Bird damage was pretty extensive. Wines are medium-bodied with a good intensity. 7/10″
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