2019 Murdoch Hill "Tilbury" Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia
ABOUT THIS WINE
2019 gave little but concentrated clean fruit. With average spring rainfall and a very dry summer, several heat-waves near harvest resulted in early picking. Importantly, cold nights through out February and March retained brightness to the fruit profile and high natural acidity.
From a selection of vineyards, predominately from a high-altitude vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley, the remaining fruit is sourced from the Lobethal District and Kenton Valley. These are mature vines with a mix of clones, Bernard C76, C95 & C96 with I10VI, G9V7 and Mendoza clones. The elevation (450-550m) in this cool climate is coupled with a range of aspects for naturally high acidity.
The hand-picked grapes were part whole berry and whole bunch pressed. Fermentation in older French oak. Partial malolactic fermentation was allowed with a small amount of lees stirring to add complexity and depth whilst being carful to keep the wine focused on the vineyards and not the winemaking. Elevage in a mixture of old and new French oak in varying formats.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER
The Downer family has been farming the fertile soils of the Onkaparinga Valley since 1939. In this time, there have been many cattle grazing, hens laying, potatoes grown, and flowers picked, but in 1998 the family made the transition into grape-growing and haven’t looked back.
The estate vineyard is located behind the township of Oakbank, in the eastern Adelaide Hills. 20 hectares of sandy loam with influences of schist, shale rock-formations, pockets of sandstone and veins of quartz and ironstone, combined with an altitude of over 1100 feet, make for a great home for cool climate varieites: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah all grow happily – and organically – here.
Michael Downer, the youngest of his generation, studied winemaking at school. After getting a degree in oenology, Michael worked with Shaw + Smith (Adelaide Hills), Vietti (Barolo), and Best’s Great Western (Grampians) before joining the family winery in 2012. Michael is credited with the renaissance of Murdoch Hill, transforming the estate from a venerable wine grower to the producer of some of the most esteemed wines in the region.
He’s brought the winemaking in-house (it was previously done by a neighboring winery) and created a range of single-site, minimal intervention bottlings. He has also introduced into their winemaking native yeast and whole bunch ferments, extended skin macerations, old oak aging, and has eschewed fining and filtration.
The Australian wine industry has taken note: Downer was a Young Gun of Wine finalist in 2014, the winner of the “Winemaker’s Choice” award in 2015 and 2016, finally taking home the top prize in 2017.