A digression along my 65-year employment way led me to work with one of my closest friends, an investment banker, with multinational shareholders. He was a free spirit, apt to spend more money that was wise. Thus he purchased a property on the Monaro plains of southern New South Wales ostensibly to graze sheep, but in reality because it had a trout stream meandering through. This was long before the internet, the only contact with the outside world a telephone party line manned by a woman in the Cooma Post Office who dealt with incoming calls from the other side of the world for Nimmitabel 2U (his precise phone number).
Over 30 years later I tasted the Mewstone wines of brothers Matt and Jonny Hughes, Matt an erstwhile high profile banker, Jonny the citizen-of-the-world winemaker. Moreover, the Hughes’ had an address to match 2U: 11 Flowerpot Jetty Road, Flowerpot, Tas 7163. The Tasmanian brothers established Mewstone Wines in 2011, with the same long term plans anchored on a 5.2ha vineyard on the banks of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel at the southern end of Tasmania.
There are two labels: Mewstone for conventional wines using estate grown grapes, and hughes&hughes for wines made from contract grown grapes. Jonny’s career as a winemaker began with tertiary studies in New Zealand, crossing the ditch to make wine at Langhorne Creek, then to Central Otago in NZ, thence Mornington Peninsula, Barolo (Italy), the Hunter Valley, and the Okanagan Valley (Canada) before settling down in Tasmania for various roles in the local wine industry, ultimately joining Moorilla Estate as assistant winemaker to Conor van der Reest.
David Walsh, owner of MONA, Conor van der Reest and Jonny Hughes have seldom shown any risk aversion in their various roles, the words trial or experimental having little or no meaning. So, say the brothers, Jonny can be more daring in bringing together techniques that he has encountered in his world travels. And it’s a large world for a small winery.
2022 Mewstone Hughes & Hughes Single Clone Syrah
Sourced from the Brinktop Vineyard; hand-picked, wild fermented, pressed to and matured in oak for 10 months. Excellent depth to its resonant purple caste; ironical this should be the top wine. Savoury/licorice/black pepper all sing on the bouquet; then a lingering, cleansing finish. 1474 bottles made.
97 points, drink to 2042, 13.1% alc, Screwcap, $50
2022 Mewstone Hughes & Hughes Milk Vat Pinot Noir
Sourced from the White Rock Vineyard; destemmed, not crushed; pressed to and matured in French oak for 10 months. Beautiful crimson; a lovely pinot noir in every way; it has precision and grace in abundance. All this from such a tiny fermenter used by countless first-up winemakers. 1584 bottles made.
96 points, drink to 2033, 12.7% alc, Screwcap, $50
2022 Mewstone D’Entrecasteaux Channel Pinot Noir
The maritime climate balances the cool southerly latitude. Hand-picked, wild fermented with 25% whole bunches. Holds its hue well, still enticing; cherry, plum and rippling spices all jostle for attention on a fulsome palate. 2478 bottles made.
95 points, drink to 2032, 13.1% alc, Screwcap, $70