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  • Brett Grocke

Eperosa Releases 2022 - Andrew Caillard, The Vintage Journal

Authenticity and integrity lie at the essence of fine wine. Often, it is the personality and belief of winemakers that take wine brands to another level. I don’t know Eperosa particularly well, but it was recently at the centre of controversy; none of its making, but rather a reflection of change and a valid desire to bring Australia’s fine wine conversation and scores in-line with international standards. But the extraordinary overreach last year has been an embarrassment to many observers in the wine industry.

As a consequence of this unfortunate frisson, I cannot remember feeling so anxious or expectant when assessing the quality of a winery’s vintage oeuvre. This is usually confined to such things as a vertical tasting of Penfolds Grange for the first time where the expectation and privilege of being in the presence of living wine history is palpable. Although different, this review brought a similar sense of occasion. And I was not disappointed. I found these wines to be remarkable for their luminosity, individuality and panache.

Eperosa’s Magnolia Vineyard at Vine Vale is the star of the show. Surviving plantings date back to 1896, 1941, 1950, 1965, 1971, 1975 and 1996. (This heritage is brought into focus through the neat and simple packaging of the wines) Organically and dry farmed, the vines are anchored in mainly deep alluvial granitic sands. The wines are typically open-fermented, basket pressed and matured in a combination of seasoned and new French oak of various sizes. The transparency of the vineyard and vine age are promoted through empathetic winemaking decisions; from picking dates through to vinification and maturation. Fruit and vineyard expression are combined with tension, vigour and torque. The definition and presence of these wines are truly excellent.

For years the wine show system has championed the great semillons of the Hunter Valley and overlooked the extraordinary examples of Barossa Valley Semillon, known locally for many years as madeira. The old vine material at Eperosa’s Magnolia Vineyard was planted in 1941, 1971 and 1975. The wines (note the moderate alcohols) are wonderful combining the richness and density of old vine material and crystal-clear freshness.

The Magnolia Shirazes are all extraordinarily expressive and highlight the genius of vineyard site and vine age. The LRC (with a touch of riesling) is from a 1967-planted Greenock vineyard on the western edge of the Barossa and is a vastly different style, on account of its clonal heritage, location and winemaking choices, but the style harks back to the 1950s and 1960s when riesling was often added to ferments.

The grenache and grenache-based wines highlight the Barossa’s current fascination for this previously under-rated variety. The Stonegarden 1858 Grenache is a benchmark style whilst the Krondorf 1903 highlights the variety’s nickname as warm-climate pinot noir.

Winemaker Brett Grocke says his motto is to make “wines built from the dirt up.” Eperosa’s beautiful and unforced wines primarily from the 2020 vintage are true to this outlook. Authenticity, integrity and singularity are words that describe Eperosa’s cracking vanguard wines.

NV Eperosa Magnolia Blanc, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium pale colour. Lovely waxy, apricot, tropical fruit with hints of butterscotch/ honeycomb. Minerally fresh palate with apricot, white peach, waxy crème brulée flavours, with fine chalky textures, attractive mid palate volume and fresh lemony acidity. A fascinating wine with the bass notes of barrel maturation, the treble of acidity and the tenor of the alluvial terroir. A multi vintage blend ( 1/3 each of 2018, 2019, & 2020) from 1941 (44%), 1975 (39%) and 1971 (17%) plantings. Wonderfully different. Drink now - soon 12.9% alc 95 points

2020 Eperosa Magnolia 1941, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium pale colour. Fresh and intense lemon curd, apricot, white peach aromas with marzipan notes. Beautifully balanced wine with deep set lemon curd, apricot, white peach, orange rind flavours, fine loose-knit chalky textures, superb mid-palate viscosity and crunchy fresh acidity. Very good density and vinosity. From 1941 plantings. Drink now – 2028. 12.8% alc 96 points

2020 Eperosa Grenache-Mataro, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium light crimson. Fragrant and sweet red cherry, redcurrant, strawberry aromas with Campari, negroni- like complexity. Seductive red cherry stone, Campari, strawberry flavours, fine bittersweet textures, very good mid-palate richness and integrated fresh acidity. A hint of tar. Quite pinot-noir like with a whip of acidity at the finish. Drink now – 2026 12.3% alc 93 points

2020 Eperosa Krondorf 1903 Grenache, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Light Crimson. Pomegranate, red cherry, red plum aromas with hints of herbs/dried roses. Light and juicy wine with persistent red fruits, underlying leafy notes and fine loose-knit al-dente textures. Very individual in style but appealing for its energy and authenticity. Drink now – 2025 11.7% alc 90 points

2020 Eperosa Magnolia 1950 Grenache, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium crimson. Fragrant musky red plum, strawberry, Campari aromas with aniseed notes. Well balanced and classical in style with fresh strawberry, red cherry, red plum flavours, fine lacy textures, mid-palate suppleness and persistent juicy acidity. Finishes chalky with very good mineral length. Drink now -2028 14.1% alc 94 points

2020 Eperosa Stonegarden 1858 Grenache, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium crimson. Intense musky plum, strawberry, herb garden aniseed. Lovely musky plum, strawberry, orange rind, aniseed flavours and fine loose knit chalky textures. Superb mid-palate volume and mineral length. A flourish of mataro (3%) and shiraz (2%) gives the wine complexity and torque. Absolutely delicious. Drink now - 2032 14 % alc 95 points

2020 Eperosa LRC Greenock Shiraz, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium deep crimson. Abundant blackberry, graphite, stone fruit aromas with liquorice, herb notes. Richly flavoured, buoyant and minerally with intense dark berry fruits, underlying apricot notes, fine chalky/ chocolaty textures and fresh long acidity. Finishes bittersweet with chinotto notes. 2% riesling does a similar job to viognier by fixing the colour and promoting vigour. A beautifully polished wine with lovely density, precision and vinosity. Vines planted in 1967. Drink now - 2028 13.9% alc 95 points

(LRC = Light Regional Council)

2020 Eperosa Magnolia Shiraz, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Medium deep crimson. Pure blackberry pastille, raspberry, strawberry, violet aromas with liquorice notes. Plentiful dark and red berry fruits, fine slinky/ velveteen tannins, some dark chocolate/ chinotto notes and fresh mineral acidity. A very youthful buoyant and expressive wine with ripe juicy fruit flavours and vigorous tannins. Will probably cellar for the medium to long term, but best as an early drinking wine. Drink now – 2028 13.5% alc 93 points

2020 Eperosa Magnolia 1965 Shiraz, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Deep crimson. Intense dark cherry, blackberry, raspberry aromas and flavours with dark chocolate, roasted walnut, stone fruit, peppercorn notes. Generous and vigorous with superb mid palate volume, inky density, persistent chalky/ al-dente textures and underlying savoury notes. Finishes claret-firm with leafy/ chinotto notes. Plenty of fruit complexity torque in this wine. Drink 2024 – 2032 12.7% alc 96 points

2020 Eperosa Magnolia 1896 Shiraz, Barossa Valley – South Australia

Deep crimson. Pure blackberry pastille, cassis aromas with dark chocolate/ graphite notes. Lovely buoyant blackberry, blackcurrant, mulberry fruits with brambly nuance, fine al dente/ grippy/ muscular tannins and integrated praline mocha notes. Finishes chocolaty/ leafy with persistent dark fruits. Evocative and refined yet powerful with the density and torque for longevity. Drink 2025- 2035 13.3% alc 97 points

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