Regan Drew
8 January 2017 | Featured Posts, General Posts, Wine Reviews | Regan Drew

Margan...Celebrating 20 years


January 8, 2017 · by vinonotebook ·

As Margan Wines are about to head into their 21st vintage, a select few wine writers were invited to visit the Hunter Valley in May 2016 and work through a retrospective tasting from their first 20 years. The group met Andrew Margan on the hill overlooking their vineyard plantings where he explained about the region. Broke-Fordwich, the Hunter Valley sub-region where Margan Wines are located is a Swiss cheese operation of under mining, including right underneath vineyards as open cut mining is not allowed in the G.I (geographical indication)
Broke-Fordwich is easy to draw circle around. 1910 planted, but it was the 1960s that saw the area truly discovered. 1980s saw a boom, but lately there’s been vines ripped out. The Dolomite seam produces distinct wines of note and the red soil can produce “cabernet that tastes like cabernet.”
Vineyard management has allowed focus on best blocks and Identification of what works best.

We were then transported back to the winery for the first ever 20 year verticals. Margan were innovators, including the first Barbera, Shiraz/Mouvedre blend and Botrytis Semillon  for the Hunter. The 20 years have seen a mix of fortunes for the Margans, including 2004 and 2005, when they had to throw out 450 barriques due to brettanomyces. Andrew loves the inherent richness of their Semillon, “We won’t win trophies at the Hunter Valley Wine Show, but I don’t care.” He’s seen a changing in the Hunter over his time: famous winemakers are rare and grape growers have become winemakers. Andrew’s son Ollie will ultimately be taking over. He’s currently in his 4th year studying wine science, yet forging his own name with national awards for bar-tending. Not keen to sit back and cruise, the Margans are fine tuning their vineyard, including grafting over some of the Verdelho to the Hunter’s first Albariño and growing Graciano. The first 20 years has been the laying of many foundation stones, the next 20 are there to establish the legacy.

Whilst we were able to taste a wine from almost each of the 20 years of production, to taste all 20 vintages of the Semillon, Shiraz, Shiraz/Mouvedre, Barbera and Botrytis Semillon would have meant staying over night in the barrel hall. As such, Andrew hand selected good, poor and exceptional vintages to contrast and compare.

Aged Release Semillon

2005, Belford Vineyard, Winemaker comment: “1st year of drought. Perfect balance between ripeness and acidity”

Baked note. Lemon floss, steel wool, mature note of rich lemon and sherbet. Still with mineral zing. Very Good.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 10.5%


2006, Belford Vineyard, Winemaker comment: “2nd year of drought. Touch riper, but still great acid”

Riper nose. Tropical fruit, lime, lemon curd. Spritzy mineral water-esque palate, lime tart and chalky finish.

Winemaker’s Rating: 10/10 Alc: 11%


2010, Belford Vineyard, Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Picked early and riper.”

Greengage, lime pith, green citrus, lighter in flavour. Acids are tart and sharp.

Winemaker’s Rating: 7/10 Alc: 11%


2011, Belford Vineyard, Winemaker comment: “Hail, but dry and ripe. Great balance between ripeness and  acid.”

Slightly smoky, sweaty lemon and wet rocks. Delicious and still young with typical lemongrass. Acid in perfect balance and sitting neatly alongside fruit.

Winemaker’s Rating: 7/10 Alc: 11.5%



2013, Braemore Vineyard,  Winemaker comment: “dry for white and wet for red. Ripe but great acid.”

Lemongrass, sunshine, lanolin, snow pea. Mineral zing palate that crescendos to a sunshine pine sweetness. Acid is understated.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 11.3%


2014, Braemore Vineyard Winemaker comment: “dry and ripe. Less ripe but great acid.”

Snow pea, lemon pith, lime leaf, body weight with finesse. Finishing delicate and trails off to tight acidity whisper.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 10.5%



2015, Braemore Vineyard Winemaker comment: “dry for white and wet for red. Ripe but great acid.”

Banana tropical esters, lemon drop sweetness, preserved lemon. Full palate weight, yet with structure and soft fruits.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 11.6%



2016, Francis John Block  Winemaker comment: “wet for white and dry for red. First year from this block.”

Chalky nose, soft lemon curd. Lightly framed with slightly green fruit. Phenolic, chalky and drying.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 10.5%



2003, Winemaker comment: “dry and ripe. Vineyard derived brettanomyces ”

Animal brett note. Walnut grain stain. Soft coffee and tobacco. Old leather, rose petals and red berries. Acid is still pronounced.

Winemaker’s Rating: 6/10 Alc: 13.5%


2004, Winemaker comment: “Variable with nuisance rain. Soft and ripe. Old oak used ”

Sweet and soft. Jubey with toffee note. Round and full, cuddly and ripe. Still with some structure, feels a little wanting.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 14%


2006, Winemaker comment: “2nd year of drought . Brettanomyces.”

Cheesy note, overlaid with wood shavings. Leather, roses, graphite.  Smoky meaty note, still with a medium amount of fruit and a blocky finish.

Winemaker’s Rating: 7/10 Alc: 14%


2007, Winemaker comment: “3nd year of drought . Small crop of small berries and ripe and lots of tannin”

Toffee and tobacco. HP Sauce and cabbage leaves. Slightly fruit sweet with sweaty leather. Drying tannins, good acidity. Finishes strong. My pick of the line-up.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 14%


2008 Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Handpicked up to our knees in mud”

Cardboard, rose petals, fresh leather, chocolate, plums and graphite. Choc fruit sweet with a orange like citrusy acidity.

Winemaker’s Rating: 2/10 Alc: 13.5%


2010 Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Handpicked up to our knees in mud”

Pretty nose. Light florals, bright fruit, sour plums, fine sandy tannins finishing with tart acidity.

Winemaker’s Rating: 7/10 Alc: 13.5%


2011 Winemaker comment: “Hail, but dry and ripe. Great acidity and small crop ”

Strong purple fruit nose. Full plums and light chocolate. Palate of dark fruit sitting behind fine tannins. Great structure.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 14.5%


2012 Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Handpicked up to our knees in mud”

Animal, dog fart, reductive, leafy, cheesy before a toffee note and pencil graphite. A full palate, but structure feels soapy and acidity disjointed

Winemaker’s Rating: 2/10 Alc: 14%


2013 Winemaker comment: “Dry for white and wet for red. Handpicked up to our knees in mud”

Light red fruit. Red currants, plums and spice. Cabbage leaf, brown spice. Ripe but elegant in the way the fruit falls into the body.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 13.5%


2014 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. Acid dropped at 12.5% which is bizarre”

Pretty choc nut nose and rosewater. Full, ripe fruit palate, solid tannins and medium acidity. Elegant

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 12.5%



1997 Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Only block (we) had and inter-planted. ”

Porty, blue meat, soy, enoki mushrooms on the nose. But still with chocolate plums and old leather on the palate.

Winemaker’s Rating: 6/10 Alc: 12.8%


2005 Winemaker comment: “1st year of drought. First vintage since 1997 kept separate. ”

Vegetal cabbage, prune, spiced plum, vanilla pod. Spiced oak, full prune flavour. Drying choc and sparky structure and finishing a little brutish.

Winemaker’s Rating: 6/10 Alc: 14.5%


2007 Winemaker comment: “3rd year of drought. Small berries and big tannins. ”

Masterstock, blackcurrant, mushroom, herbal tonic. Plums, black fruit spectrum, dried leather and medium acidity sitting in a delicate frame.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 14%


2008 Winemaker comment: “Wet and difficult. Ripened before rains came. ”

Distinct green line. Cut broccoli stem, curds, smoky, yet with a bubblegum note. Sandy and metallic, fruit is missing.

Winemaker’s Rating: 2/10 Alc: 13.5%


2011 Winemaker comment: “Hail but dry and ripe. Small crop of ripe fruit. ”

Coffee/Mocha nose. Red currants and smoky elements. Balanced flavours, spiced oak, pepper, plums and good tannins.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 13.5%


2014 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. First year of expanded block. ”

Reductive, mineral edged with a core of red fruits. Plums, pepper, chocolate. Just pips the 2011 as the best of the line-up.

Winemaker’s Rating: 10/10 Alc: 14.5%


2015 Winemaker comment: ““Dry for white and wet for red. Looks great in barrel”

Primary: crushed grapes, fresh fruits. Roses, plums, bright red fruit, almost lolly-esque. Sweet ice cream oak. Far too young.

Winemaker’s Rating: 6/10 Alc: 14.5%


Aged Release Shiraz

2003 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. First vintage of aged release Shiraz. ”

Powdery, leather, white pepper, coconut cream. Just ageing fruit with plum fruit-strap palate and sandy tannins.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 14%


2005 Winemaker comment: “1st year of drought.  Big tannin year.”

Same vegetal note as the 2005 Shiraz/Mouvedre. Polished nose, beef stew (herbs and vegies). Gunsmoke sulphides, dark prune fruit, white pepper and blocky tannins.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 14%


2007 Winemaker comment: “3rd year of drought.  Big tannin year.”

Meat pie, baked dessert, crunchy, bitter/sour plums, dark chocolate and pepper. Tannins are plentiful and still meshed tightly together.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 13.5%


2009 Winemaker comment: “Mainly dry and ripe. Balance between fruit and tannin and acid.”

Stewing plum, blue fruits, meaty, mushroom, soft red fruits, good oak, ripe and balanced with pepper and spice. A persistent finish.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 13.5%


2011 Winemaker comment: “Hail but dry and ripe. Small crop of ripe fruit”

Distinct mocha/ice coffee note. Ripe, but delicious choc/fruit/graphite flavours and white pepper spice. Full and elegant.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 13.5%


2013 Winemaker comment: “Dry for white and wet for red. Picked before rain”

Smoky/graphite, toffee, full oak, ripe plum and choc nose. Poached blue plums, syrupy with odd bubblegum line.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 13.5%


2014 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. Great year.”

Primary core of red fruits, roses and white pepper. Cabbage leaf reductive youth, yet still with  boysenberry. Fine, tight, restrained. Will be elegant and long lived.

Winemaker’s Rating: 10/10 Alc: 13.8%


Botrytis Semillon

1999 Winemaker comment: “Big crop and mainly dry. First vintage and a complete fluke that set the standard. ”

Rancio, pineapple jam, light caramel, potent and floral, intense toffee, still plenty of primary lemon curd.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 11%


2003 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. High sugar year. Won the 2004 Decanter Award for Best Sweet Wine in the world.”

Light mushroom cap, burnt caramel, balanced lemon cream, distinct marmalade and still carrying acidity.

Winemaker’s Rating: 6/10 Alc: 11%


2005 Winemaker comment: “1st year of drought. High sugar year.”

Earthy, baked meringue shell, tobacco. Caramel sauce, ripe baked dessert. Unctuous.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 10.5%


2014 Winemaker comment: “Dry and ripe. High sugar year.”

Slightly sweaty. Light apricot kernel, and whitebox honey.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 10.5%


2015 Winemaker comment: “Dry for white and wet for red. High sugar year with lots of rot.”

Biscuity with almonds and distinct apricot jam. Viscous and luscious.

Winemaker’s Rating: 9/10 Alc: 10.1%


2016 Winemaker comment: “Wet for white and dry for red. High sugar year.”

Still with primary ferment. Strong apricot. Will be viscous and powerful.

Winemaker’s Rating: 8/10 Alc: 10.8%


Lunch was then served in the barrel hall to highlight the amazing home grown produce and food from the kitchen under the incredibly talented Lisa Margan’s charge.


Cured salmon, pickled cauliflower, quinoa crisp and cucumber sorbet
15 White label Semillon: mineral, quartz, austere, preserved lemon.
13 White label Semillon. Fuller with sweet lemon acid drops. In a great place.

Margan autumn garden vegetables
16 Albariño: salty, briny, boiled lemon drop, primary banana esters. Quartz, mineralty, austere, soft acidity, approachable. great potential for Hunter valley, disease resistant.
15 White Label Chardonnay: fig, soft nutty notes, mellow cream and enjoyable with the vegies.

Smoked lamb neck, Jerusalem artichoke, eschallot, fennel

14 White Label Shiraz soft plum, saxa white pepper, stalky whole bunch, bright jubey red, attractive & floral. Good balance of oak spice and fruit. Slupparble.
14 Breaking Ground Temp, Graciano, Shiraz: muted nose, just fruits of the forest, coconutty oak. Restrained palate. Just chocolate, dark plum, tobacco.

Cheese: L’Artisan Mountain Man, Testun al Barolo, Chevre d’Aquitane, served with Margan Fig Jam and Crackers.
11 Breaking Ground Ripasso Shiraz. Prunes and plums, leather, fruit straps, aniseed, coffee grounds. Tight and sweet focused fruit. Deep plum, ash and rested over multiple skins. Tannins for days. (Great wine for Options!)
09 Breaking Ground Ripasso Shiraz. Plush, fresh leather, pipe tobacco, ripe plums. Concentrated, just before syrupy, potent and powerful.

Margan botrytis poached apple, frangipan, aniseed, sorbet
2016 Botrytis Semillon: Notes listed above.

As the day finished and we boarded the bus to return to our accommodation, Ollie and Andrew handed us their next innovation: Margan Off-Dry Vermouth made from estate Semillon grapes. Innovators never stop innovating.

Read the original post at vinonotebook


Commenting has been turned off.