Tournon by M. Chapoutier joins Berkmann Wine Cellars
The Chapoutier family have long been known as a leading light of the Rhône Valley, but in 1997 Michel Chapoutier expanded their horizons into the New World, specifically the Australian region of Victoria. Here he recognised that the cool climate and remarkable diversity of soil and exposures in this region, combined with his biodynamic philosophy would allow him to make distinctive wines from the Shiraz grape of his homeland.
Initially making wines in conjunction with renowned local wineries such Jasper Hill and Giaconda, in 2009 Chapoutier purchased the Shay’s Flat and Landsborough Valley estates in the Australian Pyrenees, followed later on by the Lady’s Lane vineyard in Heathcote, giving birth to the wholly owned Domaine Tournon. Unsurprisingly the focus is on Shiraz, which under Chapoutier’s skilled hand manages to evoke the minerality and elegance of the Northern Rhône, whilst still expressing the soil and climate of Victoria. The results are best described as Australian wines with a French passport.
Chapoutier make use of traditional concrete vats for fermentation, allowing for natural temperature control. Where possible indigenous yeast (wild yeast) fermentations occur, resulting in small batch, hand made wines. The range includes two Victorian wines under the Mathilda label, named both for Michel’s daughter Mathilde, as well as a reference to the Australia bush ballad “Waltzing Matilda”, often thought of as Australia’s unofficial anthem. The Mathilda Viognier Marsanne 2017 is fresh and crisp, with an abundance of ripe stone fruit flavours, whereas the Mathilda Shiraz 2017 is spicy and savoury, with notes of black pepper and earth.
In addition, Chapoutier owns vineyards in both the Pyrenees and Heathcote. These are Landsborough and Shay’s Flat in the Pyrenees, and Lady’s Lane in Heathcote. The Landsborough vineyard is comprised of sixteen hectares of Shiraz, Chardonnay, Riesling, Grenache, Touriga Nacional and Viognier, planted on well-drained, quartz heavy soils, with an easterly exposure. The vines are fourteen years old on average and are farmed organically. Rainwater is captured in a dam to feed the vineyards, complemented by an on-site water recycling system. The Landsborough Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 from this vineyard shows notes of toasted brioche and tropical fruits are lifted by crisp citrus flavours. The rich, rounded palate and textural weight is perfectly offset by the keen acidity and a long, lean mineral finish.
Meanwhile, Shay’s Flat vineyard is comprised of eighteen hectares of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese vines, planted on red soil made up of a mix of schist, silt, quartz and clay, with a north-easterly exposure. The vines are sixteen years old on average and are farmed organically. Rainwater is captured in a dam to feed the vineyards, complemented by an on-site water recycling system. Shay’s Flat Shiraz 2015 originates from here and displays a complex array of black fruit, cherry, tobacco and liquorice flavours, are braced by delicate and silky tannins which give the wine a supple and generous mouthfeel. Savoury and mineral notes come through, with the perfectly balanced acidity adding freshness to the finish.
Finally, Lady’s Lane vineyard in Heathcote is comprised of four hectares of Shiraz, planted on red-brown gravely earth over a basalt bedrock supporting low vigour vine growth. The unirrigated vines are fourteen years old on average and are farmed organically and biodynamically. Lady’s Lane Shiraz 2015 displays bold redcurrant and red berry flavours are followed by sweet toffee notes and a heady whiff of smokey incense. There is plenty of power here, but the rich tannins and ripe fruit are followed by a well-delineated acidity that imparts elegance and freshness.