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James Halliday
 
8 August 2019 | James Halliday

James Halliday Wine Companion 2020 Ratings

Andrew Margan following in his late father's footsteps, entered the wine industry over 20 years ago working as a Flying Winemaker in Europe, then for Tyrell's. The growth of the Margan Family business over the following years has been the result of unremitting hard work and has a keen understanding of the opportunities Australia's most visited wine region provides. They have won inumberable awards in the tourism sector against competition in the Hunter Valley, across NSW and Australia-wdie. The next generation looks similarly set to cover all bases when their parents retire: eldest son Ollie is finishing a double degree in winemaking and viticultural science at the University of Adelaide; daughter Alessa is studying communications at UTS while working in wine and food PR; and younger son James is enrolled in economics at Sydney University. Andrew has continued to push the envelope in the range of wines made without losing focus on the varieties that have made the Hunter famous. He planted barbera in 1998 and since then has progressively added mourvedre, albarino, tempranillo and graciano.

2018 Breaking Ground Albarino

96 Points

This is the last white variety of the Margan Family vineyard to ripen, and can present challenges with excess canopy growth (and crop). This is the third vintage, and a thrilling one, with incredible intensity and a salt-encrusted quarter of fresh lemon to snack on. Exceptional wine, the variety overflowing with promise. Cellar until 2025

2013 Aged Release Semillon

95 Points

Pale straw-green. When about to turn 6yo, the whole wine was still inside a scaffold of acidity - heaven knows when this will reach its peak. Sour lemon, apple, lemongrass and a whisper of toast are all contributors, stainless steel acidity a permanent part of the wine. Cellar until 2033

2017 White Label Chardonnay

95 Points

Wild-fermented in new and 1yo French puncheons. Gleaming straw-green; while the fruit flavours are fully ripe, it is a great example of what the Hunter Valley can achieve with chardonnay if picked at the right time and handled with care from then on. It has razor-sharp varietal character, with grapefruit and lemon leading white stone fruit, the oak perceptible in a totally positive way. Cellar until 2027

2017 White Label Shiraz

95 Points

Hand-picked, fermented and bottled as a landmark in the Margan '17 vintage, the block selected for this treatment has 50yo vines yielding 1 tonne/acre. It has excellent texture and structure, although it's the sense of place that is the key. With its screwcap protecting the wine, 40 years should be a doddle for its blackberry and earth fruits.

2017 Breaking Ground Shiraz Mourvedre

95 Points

From a block of interplanted shiraz and mourvedre on red volcanic soil, shiraz accounting for 85% of the vines. Whole-berry fermented, 2 weeks on skins, matured for 18 months in French barriques (10% new). It is a natural blend for the late ripening mourvedre. This is very well made with perfect ripeness of a field blend - not easy.

2017 Breaking Ground Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz

94 Points

A 80/15/5% interplanted field blend, co-fermented and matured in a mix of new American hogsheads and used French barriques for 12 months. The vintage provided firm tannins and acidity in greater measure than I might have expected from the hot, dry, year. On retasting, the tannins withdrew their swords. Interesting wine.

2017 White Label Fordwich Hill Semillon

94 Points

Picked earlier than prior vintages with the aim of enhancing the structure, even if it takes some richness away from the mid-palate. Interesting. Counterintuitive? Yes, but it works because there's a profusion of citrus, lemon curd and tingling freshness.

2017 White Label Cabernet Sauvignon

94 Points

Hand-picked and sorted in the vineyard for whole berry vinification with cultured yeast, pressed at 2 degrees baume to tank for mlf, matured in French oak (40% new) for 18 months. Given the extra-warm vintage, is a remarkably good wine, with bell-clear cassis fruit and offsetting dried bay leaf notes, the tannins just as they should be.

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