Lest anyone think Gundog Estate’s proprietor-winemaker Matt Burton is simply teasing us with his release of the three wines profiled here, think again. The foundation of the estate is single varietal/regional wines utilising high quality grapes and making the wines speak with clarity about their place and varietal expression. Nor is he a wunderkind on the block. He’s been making wines for 15 years and has two cellar doors, the most active in the Hunter Valley, the second on the family farm at Gundaroo in the Canberra District.
These days minimal intervention is seen by many winemakers and consumers as best practice. Burton respects and adopts this for much of his portfolio, drawing on the Hunter Valley, Canberra District (Murrumbateman and nearby Gundaroo) and Hilltops. He and Dylan McMahon of Seville Estate in the Yarra Valley make two chardonnays and two pinot noirs each vintage under the standalone brand Burton McMahon.
If this weren’t enough, he is always seeking to push the envelope in new ways to answer his curiosity, finding hitherto untested techniques to make wines that are very different yet satisfying and enjoyable. So he spontaneously cries out that 2018 Indomitus Rutilus “is absolutely one of the most exciting wines I’ve ever made”.
It is a prime example of Burton’s desire to challenge accepted winemaking and sensory norms and to “evoke a sense of discovery in the drinker”. He’s happy to explain the techniques he’s used, but doesn’t seek to blind his customers with science. He avoids the cliché of natural wine, but many of the vinification components are back-to-the-future stuff. Thus he doesn’t use fining agents, and the last thing he would do is use the balm of new oak. The secondary aim is to find techniques that might be subtly incorporated into his mainstream wines. Cunning.
2019 Gundog Estate Indomitus Albus
A 60/27/13% blend of Hunter semillon and gewürztraminer and Murrumbateman riesling. The semillon was wild-fermented with 30% skins, held thus for 142 days, the balance wild-fermented on solids in old oak. It’s complex and full-flavoured, but sends too many mixed messages. 130 dozen made. 12.5% alc, screwcap
91 points, drink to 2023, $40
2019 Gundog Estate Indomitus Rosa
From the Hilltops. Pale bronze-salmon. Wild-fermented nebbiolo cloudy juice in old oak, with four months on lees. Excellent intensity and length, the aftertaste underlining the quality. Will live for some years. 293 dozen made. 13% alc, screwcap
95 points, drink to 2023, $40
2018 Gundog Estate Indomitus Rutilus Shiraz
From Murrumbateman. One parcel 80% whole berry, 20% whole bunch, 12 months in old oak. The other parcel crushed, wild-fermented in Flextank with 465 days on skins. A bold throw of the dice comes up with six sixes, the tannins fine, but underwriting the foresty fruits. Great stuff. 111 dozen made. 14.5% alc, screwcap
96 points, drink to 2038, $50