I haven’t hitherto written a column for this magazine – or any other publication – on Coldstream Hills and its wines thanks to the obvious conflict of interest arising from my background as CEO of Coldstream Hills from 1985 to 1996, when a public takeover bid by Southcorp succeeded, and I became a paid consultant, an arrangement that continues to this day.
My love of Coldstream Hills and its wines hasn’t changed one iota as my ownership declined from 100% to 51%, then 30% and ultimately zero. Or, if you prefer, my role as actual hands-on winemaker role gradually diminished from sole (1985-’87) to nil today. So, yes, I’m hopelessly biased.
Now, in my 84th year, I am happier than ever, a situation that will, I am sure, remain until my ashes are sprinkled over the House Block. You see, a winemaking team led by the quietly spoken and highly talented Andrew Fleming has been in place since 2001 (with Greg Jarratt at his side), making beautiful Yarra Valley wines. They have now taken full advantage of the glorious 2021 vintage, and as well as making a full range of Reserve, Single Vineyard, and regional (Yarra Valley) wines, they have produced two exquisite single Block pinot noirs from the Deer Farm Vineyard.
Back in ’94 and ’95, as CEO, I engineered the raising of the funds to buy and plant the 29ha Deer Farm and 24ha Gladysdale vineyard (both in the Upper Yarra Valley). Deer Farm has regularly produced the best single vineyard wines each year, and is the jewel in the Coldstream crown. Now, all my Coldstream Christmases have come at once. Treasury Wine Estates, owner of Coldstream Hills, has paid $7 million for the 62ha Upper Yarra Beenak Vineyard (50ha planted). It will double the size of Coldstream’s Upper Yarra vineyards, all with mature vines, and means that it can broaden its access to the domestic market, and once again have enough wine for a serious export effort.
2021 Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Sourced from 70% Lower Yarra, 30% Upper Yarra, vinified using multiple handling techniques including whole bunch. This takes me back to the outstanding 1992 vintage with its combination of elegance and complexity, with fraises du bois, red and sour cherries, plum and spices that will grow and grow over the years to come.
Drink to 2041, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $35
2021 Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay
Fermented and matured in French oak (47% new). Purity and clarity are watchwords for this beautiful young chardonnay, with typical Yarra Valley length. White peach, grapefruit and grilled almond/nougat flavours are sustained in by juicy acidity.
Drink to 2041, 13% alc, Screwcap, $45
2021 Coldstream Hills Block E Deer Farm Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Open fermented, 10% whole bunch, 10 months in French oak (33% new). Light, clear crimson; the perfume is from another world, intensifying as the gap between the glass and the nose increases, with traces of every imaginable red fruits, rose petals and spices. Delicacy to a palate of exceptional length.
Drink to 2041, 13% alc, Screwcap, $80