Today we go down under to Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Australia’s largest independent organic producer with over 300 hectares of organic wines in the Orange and Hunter Valley wine sub-regions of New South Wales. Independent meaning that they don’t sell to big-box retailers. Quite impressive for a 120,000 annual case production.
Tamburlaine’s Entry into Hunter Valley Wine
Tamburlaine started over 50 years ago when a small group of friends, led by Mark Davidson, purchased the winery and started making Hunter Valley wine. At Tamburlaine, they believe in low-intervention winemaking and strive to leave their spot on the Earth in better shape than how they found it. While at the Wine Media Conference in October 2019, I toured Tamburlaine with my old wine pal Liz of What’s In That Bottle, and my new wine pal, Conrad of The Wine Wankers. Tamburlaine assistant winemaker Conor Brasier guided us through the property and through a flight of wines for a lovely afternoon!
Conor is a breath of fresh air. I always appreciate a young winemaker and their ability to embrace change and innovation. He knows the place inside and out….it felt like he gave us a tour of his living room!
Tasting Hunter Valley Wine at Tamburlaine
Preservative Free Au Naturel Premium Cuvée
An all-natural, sulfur-free blanc de blanc made in the Charmant method (the same method used with Prosecco). All fruit from Orange. A nice, easy sparkling clocking in at a low 11.5% ABV.
Wine Lovers Verdelho-Semillon (current vintage 2020 $24)
Conor described this as a “session wine”. Not too serious, yet crisp and refreshing. “Crushable” as the kids say!
Reserve Orange Riesling (current vintage 2019 $33)
Tamburlaine makes 4 Rieslings, all from the same biodynamic vineyard in Orange. Green apple, citrus (grapefruit), and floral notes of white jasmine.
Mark Davidson Riesling (current vintage 2020 $18)
This wine is off-dry showing notes of citrus (lime), plus a floral note of orange blossom. Bracing acid.
Wine Lovers Sweet Phoebe ($24)
A NV late harvest Riesling. Great with Asian/Indian food!
Reserve Noble Riesling (current vintage 2017 $39)
A late harvest Riesling, with a portion of botrytised grapes. I get citrus (lime), plus a honeyed note, and lots of tropical fruits. Though sweet, this wine has great acid to counterbalance.
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (current vintage 2018 $30)
Fruit comes from their Orange vineyard. 70% of Australia’s Pinot Noir clonal material comes from this vineyard. The wine is quite pretty; beautiful, in fact. Uniquely Aussie.
Barrel Tasting: 2019 Reserve Malbec
This is Conor’s favorite wine at the moment. I got an herbaceous note I don’t generally get from an Argentinian Malbec. Not over-oaked, like some Malbecs from Argentina. The vines in Orange are at about the same altitude as many Malbec vines in Uco Valley, Argentina, approx. 2,700 feet.
Since our visit, Tamburlaine announced that they bought former Cumulus Winery to expand its production capacity. Consequently, this helps cement them as an even bigger player in Australian organic winemaking. They plan to open a cellar door in Orange. However, I do not know the status of that since COVID hit. Tamburlaine is a solar-powered, energy-saving sustainable property, recycling its wastewater and turning solid wastes into vine mulch and compost.
This all sounds like good stuff to me! Certainly, I can attest, the wines were lovely. I highly recommend a visit to Tamburlaine if you ever find yourself in need of some Hunter Valley wine while visiting Australia! In the same vein of Hunter Valley Wine, a visit to Tyrrell’s, is definitely in order. In short, Tyrrell’s is considered the first family of Hunter Valley Wine and makes the best Semillon in the region!