If you've been collecting wine for 20 years or more, Virgin Hills is a winery that needs no introduction. For everyone else, your cellar is missing a part of Australian wine history.
This new collection is a showcase of wines that we think are the best of the last 15 years. All are sealed under screwcap (which ensures they'll live forever) and stored in a chilly cellar since release, the selection covering the great years of 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and the brand-new 2012 vintage release.
For anyone not familiar with Virgin Hills, this enigmatic label was founded by Hungarian-born sculptor and restaurateur Tom Lazar. Located high up in the Macedon Ranges, what makes this estate almost mystical is that it has only ever produced a single wine style - a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot and even Pinot Noir.
Planted on a marginal, highly frost prone site, what makes this single estate wine so amazing is just how perfectly well balanced it is. Against all the odds, the Virgin Hills Estate Red is a stunning medium-bodied Cabernet that will live for decades.
This mixed case includes: 1x 2003 Virgin Hills A dense and complex nose of dark plums and cumin spice and a hint of coconut and lemon. The fine oak is barely noticeable but announces that the palate will be firmly structured by it.
Sure enough, the palate leads with chocolate oak, and then allowing ripe Cabernet black fruits. The Merlot and Shiraz fill out the mid palate with a smattering of Indian spices. The tannins are quite drying and dominate the length, but there is enough dark fruits and leathery weight to hold up. This wine is all about structure and savouriness. The tannins leave you puckering.
1x 2005 Virgin Hills This wine is at its prime and I suspect it will be for another decade to come. The nose has that elusive frankincense and sandalwood character of exceptional Northern Rhones; the Malbec is lifting these spices out of the Shiraz. There is also a similar aged Cabernet note mingling too.
The palate is generous and incredibly complex. There are sweet plums and blackberries, to sweet tobacco and sandalwood, to smokey roasted capsicum and dark chocolate (the really high cocoa kind.) The tannins are reminiscent of such chocolate too with a firmness of style. This wine is a great balance of savoury spices and aged oak notes, with developed fruit characters. The finish is stamped with the signature fine tannin structure and lingering leathery complexity. All class.
1x 2006 Virgin Hills The nose on the 2006 is statement in Cabernet. There are dark blackberries and snow peas. A vanilla note sweetens these notes and lemon myrtle adds to the complexity.
A ripe and generous Virgin Hills with a subtle vanilla note lifting the dark chocolate, blackberries and black cherries. One of the riper examples from this vineyards, the flavours are rich and forward. This more masculine style has the firm, stylish tannins, but has a generous dark plum opulence. Some great spice dances throughout and the structure holds very firmly on the finish. This is built to last and will probably be at its best in 2030’s.
1x 2007 Virgin Hills This wine takes its time to open up. It’s in no hurry, so take your time with it. There are some salty plums sitting under black pepper and sandalwood. The weight of earthy fruit and French oak is lifting out.
The palate is a madhouse of stylish oak and plums and orange peel and black pepper and cumin and dark Cabernet fruit, get acidity and sticky tannins. There’s so much packed in there that I suspect over time different things will show themselves at different times (both in a decanter and by slowly whittling down a dozen of these over the next decade or so). The consistency of sticky tannins are the mark of optimum ripeness and of quality. In my experience the orange and herbal notes develop into cigar tobacco and leather characters. I think this will be a very classy wine over the next 2 decades.
1x 2010 Virgin Hills A spicy nose with exotic spices of cardamon and cumin and raspberry jam. The palate is hitting the sweet spot of age, with a great balance of earthy complexity, cigar notes, new leather and some brightness of cherries and herbs. The structure is so elegant, with very fine tannins, and fresh acidity lifting the red fruits. The Malbec is shining in this wine with juicy exotic fruits in the middle and the Cabernet is tying it all together beautifully. A good one.
1x 2012 Virgin Hills This nose begins with bright peas from the Cabernet and red fruits (raspberries) from the Merlot. A dandelion note permeates through. The palate eases into complexity of beans, dandelion, blackberries and bright cedar. As a five year old wine, the components are in good harmony, but still quite youthful. The cedar oak is integrated well, and is the first to begin some secondary ageing characters with the earthy notes from the Cabernet and Shiraz in this blend. Earthy herbal notes intermingle with lean darker fruits; a tight wine at the moment. The structure is very smooth and stylish. This wine will age very beautifully and very slowly.