Clive Hartley

One aspect that attracted me to this location was how accessible it was to a number of wine regions. Located only an hour away from Daylesford, the Pyrenees can be considered our northwestern neighbours. The region is warmer than the Macedon Ranges and hence provides some alternative grapes to what we have locally. However, you can still get some cooler sites if your travel up the sides of the Pyrenees ranges. Soils are different as well, with sandy clay loam and gravel.

Dalwhinnie is the highest vineyard at 595m. It belonged to David Jones up until 2020 and was sold to the ever growing, progressive Western Australian based Fogarty group. The wines are now made by their chief winemaker Julian Langworthy. It’s a period where the Jones-made wines are being sold out and Julian’s wines introduced.

On a recent visit I tasted both, and there is a strong vineyard character that comes through in all their wines. It’s a cool site and the cabernet is probably one of the biggest structured Australian wines I’ve tasted from this variety – I mean in the form of tannins and acid not fruit weight. The Shiraz is more approachable and is round and satisfyingly plush. The 2018 Moonambel Shiraz was outstanding. A smoky, cedar and earthy nose lead into an elegant wine that was lighter than expected on the palate. However, the finish reminded me of their cool hillside site as it finished with plenty of structural tannins. Their top Shiraz is the Eagle 2020 at $185 a bottle and is smooth and well-integrated. At a more modest price, their Mesa Chardonnay at $35 is a well-made enjoyable wine and their trophy winning LDR Shiraz 2022 was lovely, showing punch primary blackberries supported by a framework of cedar and cooking spices. The palate is rich, supple, and juicy. Every region needs an icon and Dalwhinnie definitely retains its status on that front.

Another long-term resident is Mount Avoca where vigneron David Darlow tends organic vines and produces an attractive and well-priced 2023 Sauvignon Blanc ($22). I’ve always known the region can make attractive wines from this variety. Taltarni have been doing it for decades. This Mount Avoca wine shows nice fresh aromatics of grass and gooseberries with more grapefruit flavours on the palate. Their Viognier 2021 ($30) has spot-on peach and apricot aromatics. The palate is slightly fleshy and creamy but retains its freshness and if you like a dessert wine then try their late picked viognier.

Clive Hartley is an award-winning wine writer, educator and consultant. Check out his fortnightly radio show on Hepburn Community Radio called “put a cork in it”.  Want to learn more about wine? Try his book the Australian Wine Guide (7th ed) – available for purchase from Paradise Books in Daylesford or through his website –