For most of my working life I had two concurrent lives, one as a corporate lawyer in Sydney/Melbourne, the other incubated in my parents’ walk-in wine cellar, filled with Lindemans Hunter River wines (1952-61). Wheels within wheels 35 years later saw me as Southcorp’s Group Winemaker for Lindemans Hunter Valley, Devil’s Lair and Coldstream Hills (1996-2000).
Wine (Australian) began to permeate my social life, but changed forever when I met Len Evans and the realm of French wines (1968). At the same time, I and two other legal friends began the search for land that culminated in the establishment of Brokenwood (1969-70).
Arts/Law (1956-61) degrees at St Paul’s College/University of Sydney and Articles of Clerkship (1958-61) with Clayton Utz (partner 1966) as a corporate lawyer, then a merchant banker (1974-77), returning to Clayton Utz in 1978 as its first managing partner. In 1983 I moved to Melbourne to manage the first ex-Sydney office of the firm, law and wine coalescing when Coldstream Winemakers Limited raised $1 million to acquire the property at 29-31 Maddens Lane.
Around the corner on 24-26 Medhurst Road is the house of Ross and Robyn Wilson, the Medhurst winery, restaurant and cellar door, the senior winemaker Simon Steele (ex Brokenwood). The husky voice and wide smile made Wilson a born leader, CEO of Southcorp (1987-94) who drove the company’s acquisition of Penfolds, Lindemans and Wynns in 1990. Robyn spent her childhood in the Yarra Valley, so the choice of this as semi-retirement location was inevitable.
On the other side of Medhurst Road is the house, vineyard and cellar door of Squitchy Lane, owned by Mike and Helen Fitzpatrick. He was a Rhodes scholar, and studied at Oxford in the ’70s, living on Squitchy Lane and tasting Europe’s finest wines, on return to Australia, captaining Carlton to two premierships, before building a financial career. In 1988 I purchased (and picked) chardonnay from the then owners of the vineyard, and now Squitchy Lane’s wines are made at Medhurst.
2019 Squitchy Lane Vineyard Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Barrel fermented and matured for 4 months in used French oak, the extra time in bottle has increased the complexity without diminishing the herbal/cut grass/green pea fruit. A wine of presence and power.
94 points, drink to 2023, 13% alc, Screwcap, $30
2019 Squitchy Lane Vineyard The Key Single Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay
73% Penfolds 58, 27% Dijon clones; hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, fermented and matured in French oak (30% new) for 11 months. Intense, very long and focussed, spanning grapefruit/blood orange, white stone fruit and cashew. 130 dozen made.
95 points, drink to 2029, 13% alc, Screwcap, $55
2021 Medhurst Estate Vineyard Rose
The pale salmon hue reflects whole bunch-pressed cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, fermented off skins. Wafts of perfume float in the air, rose petals to the fore. The unexpectedly intense fruits span spices, light and dark, and small forest berries. Typical Medhurst class.
95 points, drink to 2023, 13% alc, Screwcap, $27