25 September 2023

Tyrrells … going strong after 160 years

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By John Rozentals.

“160 years of family business is an amazing thing,” said Chris Tyrrell.

“We are lucky enough to make wine from vines planted by our great-great-grandfather in

Bruce Tyrrell … currently in charge of the family ship.

a time when they had no electricity or any of the luxuries we have today. It is an honour to work with these wonderful assets.”

He’s quite right, of course, and the whole family should be immensely proud of that achievement.

What Chris didn’t mention was that the 160 years have been achieved with so few people in charge of the ship.

Current head is fourth-generation Bruce Tyrrell. His great uncle Dan completed his last vintage in 1959, aged 88.

The fifth generation, represented by Bruce’s son Chris, might have to wait a few years yet before taking the reins.

There certainly have been some memorable milestones in the Tyrrells story, including the launch in 1963 of their iconic Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, now one of Australia’s most awarded white wines, and being the first Australian winery, in 1973, to mature chardonnay in French oak and enter it into a wine show — a controversial step indeed.


D’Arenberg 2014 The Sticks & Stones ($29): A blend of 37 per cent tempranillo, 36 per cent grenache, 25 per cent souzao, and a smidge of tinta cao. I had a handle on all of these ‘alternative’ varieties but souzao sent me to Google. It’s a dense, deeply coloured Portuguese variety, which may go a long way to explaining this wine, which is big, full-flavoured and aridly dry. I’d be taking it along to match a meaty pizza.

D’Arenberg 2014 Derelict Vineyard Grenache ($29): The Osbornes helped save grenache when its very future in McLaren Vale was threatened, and just as well, as this superb dry red shows. It’s an absolute ripper and I confess to loving it madly. Warm, full, generous, rich, soft are all terms that come readily to mind. Drink with the heartiest of winter stews and you’ll be well sated.


Tyrrells 2016 Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz ($25): The Tyrrell family have put just about as much effort into the central Victorian area of Heathcote as the have into their beloved Hunter Valley. Well, that might be stretching things a bit, but they certainly have given the area a fair bit of support — and it’s paying off very nicely after more than 20 years. This is great plummy Australian shiraz just waiting for a juicy medium-rare steak.

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