Just when I was starting to muse about a lack of interesting Australian Tempranillo, and then this Tokar Estate Special Release Amphora Tempranillo 2019 lands on the doorstep.
So Tokar Estate has a block of Tempranillo vines that predates the Temp. popularity explosion, with Leon Tokar planting the Spanish hero grape in a plot directly outside the estate restaurant back in 1999.
Those vines are the oldest Tempranillo in the Yarra Valley, and the wines that the clever (and polite) Martin Siebert from them are routinely great. Actually, pretty much everything that Martin touches is great. Let’s call him Midas Siebert.
This Temp has had some speccy treatment too. It comes off a block with a distinctly different soil type from the rest of the vineyard, which is the place to start with for a ‘Special Release’.
I don’t want to get bogged down in winemaking minutiae, but the winemaking behind this is fun.
In the winery, the fruit from this section of vines was handpicked, destemmed and gravity-fed into a 1000L Spanish clay amphora. Spanish grape, Spanish amphora. It then spent 118 days on skins, with a few gentle plunges. It was then pressed off (gently) after an awkward dig out and returned to amphora before bottling unfined and unfiltered in Jan 2020.
What a lovely wine it is too. Milk chocolate and red berry fruit, it fizzes on the palate too – a vibrant, juicy and lovely textured red. It’s a long long way from the oak-etched richness of Rioja, but the acid/fruit balance is lovely. The tannin finesse, like fine sandpaper, is exceptional too.
It’s a light touch, just mid-weight red, but ripe and long and involving. It’s one of those wines that both sounds interesting and tastes delicious. I’m such a fan.
Best drinking: good to go. Will live for ten years, but why wait? 18.5/20, 94/100. 14%, $60. Tokar Estate website. Would I buy it? Well worth a bottle off a list.
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