It’s all about timing and right now the Ɵming couldn’t be more perfect for Moppity Vineyards and Southern NSW. The results for the 2016 Seguin Moreau Great Australian Shiraz Challenge have been released and Moppity Vineyards have won Best NSW Shiraz and the overall title of Best Shiraz for a second Ɵme, with their 2015 Escalier Shiraz (RRP $130) outscoring over 350 wines from 60 different regions.
Moppity Vineyards is sƟll the only NSW winery to have won the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge, and the only Single Vineyard producer to have won it twice. Further, Moppity had two wines in a tie for second place (2015 Reserve Shiraz RRP $80 and 2015 Estate Shiraz RRP $35). Moppity last claimed the title in 2014 with the 2013 Reserve Shiraz.
South Australian wines have historically dominated the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge (as they have the Australian market place), keeping the Trophy on South Australian soil for the first 15 years, since its inception. However in the last seven years, there has been a noticeable
shift, with four out of the last seven winners coming from Victoria, WA and NSW (and two of the last three from Moppity). This makes for an exciting time for Australian wine, with judges illuminating a pathway to medium bodied, fragrant, cool climate Shiraz for a marketplace rapidly growing in sophistication and sense of adventure.
Moppity Vineyards have entered 14 wines into the challenge in the last three years and all have been awarded medals; 3 Trophies, 8 Gold, 5 Silver and 1 Bronze. When JB was asked about his success he commented “It’s a fortunate coincidence, that’s all. This is a style that I love and want to make and it’s a style that this vineyard is perfectly suited to: elegant, fragrant, spicy, medium bodied Shiraz. Right now Australian judges love it but ten years ago that wasn’t the case; they were looking for bigger, richer, jammier styles from warmer regions. In ten years’ time they may well be looking for something else but I’ll always stay true to this site. This is the style of Shiraz our vineyard produces, this is the style of Shiraz we love, and this is the style of Shiraz we’ll continue to make.”
When Jason and Alecia Brown, purchased their Hilltops vineyard back in 2004, it was the high elevation and cool climate that drew them in. After years of focussed viticultural, they have found their vineyard’s voice. The ultimate aim has always been to produce wines that expressed the “Moppity-ness” of the site. JB explains, “Our intention has always been to make excellent Shiraz but more importantly, Shiraz that expresses our site. The wines we entered all share the unique “Moppity DNA” that not only separates them from wines of other vineyards and regions but also bind them as members of a family. Perhaps the most rewarding as pect of this result is that three out of our four 2015 Shiraz scored golds (the other scoring Silver). We’ve had eight wines in the Top 10 in the last three years. This result is as much validation of quality as for expression of the Moppity style. They can be from nowhere other than here. That’s what makes them special.”
The result at this show is not isolated; Moppity’s 2015 Shiraz have now won a total of 5 trophies and 15 gold medals. The 2015 vintage was extraordinary in the Hilltops region. It started with a cool, wet spring then continued with warm dry weather through to harvest, resulting in gradual, even ripening of the fruit. The Moppity site is “thirsty” at the best of times and as a result the yields were pitifully small but the flavours are both concentrated and captivating.
On first inspection, it’s evident that the Moppity site in Hilltops, Southern NSW has a similar climate and elevation to its closest neighbours in Murrumbateman – a region that has already successfully etched its name as a great Shiraz producing region. But dig a little deeper and you will see strong parallels between the soil at Moppity (which is sandy and shallow, rocky/gravelly granitic and free draining), and that of Coté Rôtie in Northern Rhone, which also has granitic, powdery, rocky, free-draining soil. This soil is perfect for Shiraz, which is a high vigour variety. It forces the vines to work harder to seek out water and nutrients. This rest ricts vigour and yield, whilst concentrating flavour and building character and personality in the fruit. This soil is not typical of the broader Hilltops region and may be part of Moppity’s secret to success.
However, it’s not just the soil, elevation, cool climate or wine making that has contributed to putting this wonderfully expressive Shiraz on the podium. It’s all of these things, but more importantly it’s the fact that consumers and judges alike are looking for a different style of Shiraz, a style that is evocative and fragrant, vibrant and seamless, powerful yet restrained with good depth and complexity. A style Moppity Vineyards is committed to making.