Within the Adelaide Hills, just off the township of Oakbank, you’ll find the Murdoch Hill vineyard and winery. Whilst current winemaker, Michael Downer, took out the prestigious Riedel Young Gun of Wine award, it’s worth noting that Murdoch Hills is not an unfamiliar presence in the Australian wine industry, nor a stranger to awards or praise from critics. The vineyards were planted in 1998 by the Downer family, with Michael taking helm in 2012 – creating all the recent buzz.
Michael has worked to implement big changes to the family business. Murdoch Hill’s wine is now processed in-house, after previously being outsourced from a nearby winery. They also have jumped on the approach of low intervention winemaking – expressed through their Artisan range of single-parcel bottling. These wines are nurtured with the use of indigenous yeast, whole bunch fermentation and prolonged skin contact. Michael believes this process brings out distinctive characteristics from the fruit, sourced across multiple sites in the Adelaide Hills.
Grape varieties and unique blends that can currently be discovered within the Artisan Series include Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Syrah Pinot, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir & Syrah. Taking into consideration the cooler climate from higher altitudes in the Adelaide Hills regions, Michael intends to distinguish Murdoch hill’s Shiraz from other SA regions. As a result, Shiraz is instead referred to as Syrah. Drinkers of Murdoch Hill Syrah will enjoy a lively, fragrant, red-fruited style wine.
Michael tends to have a lot of good to speak of regarding both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Adelaide Hills Chardonnay is quite versatile across the regions and can be expressed in a multitude of ways. It is also one of the largest plantings across the Hills regions, and Michael believes Chardonnay should be treated as the golden child for what Hills regions can offer on a world-scale. Within the Hills regions, Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are characterised by very cold nights (ideal for acid retention) and significant sunlight exposure throughout the day (ideal for depth of fruit). Drinkers will be delighted by the delicate and refined notes, with a gorgeous natural acidity, representing only part of what the Adelaide Hills has to offer.