Marc Lunt is the winemaker behind Terrason wines, a breakaway project that draws inspiration from Australia’s artisan wine scene and a life worked in great cellars of Europe. This may be a common story for many winemakers of note in the Aussie wine community, but few have turned their hand to judicious importing, particularly with a focus on organic, minimal-intervention producers of France.
Lunt was born in New Zealand and raised in South Australia but honed his craft on the Adelaide Plains before settling into the Yarra Valley. His resume is very, very impressive, with time worked at Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Armand Rousseau and Château Angélus. All this makes it even more fascinating that Terrason, Lunt’s project with partner Leanne, shows much of the flair of the natural wine world. That being said, you’d call them more traditional than most wines under the natural wine banner.
The two wines singled out for review are two takes on Burgundian second-fiddle white variety, aligoté – a table wine of exquisite poise, minerally charm and tension, and a frisky, thirst-quenching pét-nat.
The 2019 Terrason Aligoté (A$32) comes from King Valley with original cuttings from a vineyard in Mornington Peninsula. The cool site sees vines digging into volcanic soils, with grapes raised sustainably. The fruit is hand-picked, naturally fermented and rests on lees in stainless steel tanks pre-bottling. It’s a beautiful wine, smelling and tasting like fresh-pressed Granny Smith apple juice with hints of salted cashews. It’s understated, mouth-watering, tense, with poise and deliciousness. Best drunk in youth and not quite fully cold.
Sharing some of the same characteristics, 2019 Terrason Aligote Pét Nat (A$32) is a vivacious, naturally sparkling white offering more of the apple, nuttiness and saline minerality found in the table wine but with a little more depth of flavour. The wine sees 48 hours skin contact before pressing, resulting in chalkiness in texture, and amplifying fruit and savouriness. It’s a vivacious, wickedly drinkable but serious example of the style.
My first look at Mulline wines had me enthralled. I’m a big fan of drinking in Geelong and made a beeline to these wines on arrival. They are made by a dynamic duo that includes Ben Mullen (winemaker) and Ben Hine (operations manager).
Mullen cut his teeth around the Barossa Valley and has worked at leading wineries like Torbreck, Yarra Yering, Oakridge, Craggy Range and Domaine Dujac. Hine is a lawyer by day and aspirational wine guy by night.
The two kicked off their project in 2018, with these first wines emerging from their 2019 harvest.
Underpinning the wines are vineyards that are farmed with ‘environmentally friendly practices’ while the winemaking leans into the low-intervention camp. The subregions of Moorabool Valley and Bellarine Peninsula are focused on for the fledgling wine range.
The 2019 Mulline Portarlington Chardonnay (A$50) is brilliant, showcasing strong stone fruit and pulpy grapefruit characters with bristling acidity and an undercurrent of Parisian almond sweet-savouriness. It feels effortless to drink, elegant and stylish.
As with many chardonnays of this ilk, it’s best not to drink it straight out of the fridge; instead, let the nuance and detail be revealed at closer to room temperature.
With the expected regional grunt of tannin, 2019 Mulline Syrah (A$50) is the superstar of the line-up. It’s deeply flavoured with forest berry characters mingling with more guttural, gamey-meaty notes, and an array of dried herb and exotic spice in tow. It sits svelte and medium-weight in the palate, silky but for the building grip of those coiled, fine tannins. It’s an epic rendition of the style and a beacon for those who seek perfumed, refined syrah.
No slouch either, the 2019 Mulline Pinot Noir (A$50) is a memorable red wine. Again, the tannins are a stellar feature, with texture almost pumice-like and the lingering profile all dusty-minerally and fine. The bouquet is a fog of pretty cherry fruitiness with Chinese five spice and sweet earth shot through.
The wine weighs in just under medium weight and has a pent-up feel – it’s a red best savoured from big glasses after time in a decanter. Better yet, bury a few bottles in the cellar for up to a decade.
This is an outstanding set of first releases (there’s a sauvignon blanc rendered ‘fumé style’ out there too, but untasted as yet), and Mulline is a name to be firmly printing into your journal of wines to seek out. With only around 120 dozen produced of each wine, this is a small-batch producer that you should pay heed to run, not walk to.
Seraphim are the wines of Sam Scarpari, a winemaker based in Goulburn Valley. Scarpari’s family background was in farming strawberries and tomatoes before a shift to grape-growing. Despite growing up with all the agricultural influences, Sam originally had little interest in pursuing a winemaking career, but a chance experience with a family friend and a significant tasting of young wines in barrel changed everything. He headed overseas soon after and interned with California’s Williams Selyem Winery.
After several stints at home, Scarpari chose again to return to the United States, seeking out the burgeoning wineries in Texas for some additional vocational experience. In and around all this, Scarpari was dreaming up his future endeavours in Australia.
Seraphim’s entire output is around 400 cases of wine. It’s a drop in the Australian wine landscape, but the interesting route to market had me attentive even before tasting the wines. A winemaker raised in vegetable then grape-growing leaps into high profile and then obscure winery influences – Seraphim had me at hello.
While the range is broader than shiraz and pinot noir, it’s those two wines that felt best to report on. Scarpari sources from around Victoria, and the 2018 Seraphim Pinot Noir (A$29) is from Yarra Valley origin. It’s a lush pinot noir of soft and silky texture, loaded with dark cherry, light mocha characters and a nice, earthy grunt. While heartier than many cool-climate examples, it holds its meatiness well and delivers a wash of well-judged richness and freshness. It’s hedonistic pinot that is best consumed fireside mid-winter.
Likewise, 2018 Seraphim Shiraz, (A$29) sourced from Heathcote, is no shrinking violet. This is a lusty, full-throttled red of power and generosity. I like that it feels kind of old school-good school – punchy but polished. A bold, thick red of warmth, sweet fruit and spice. It’s again, like the pinot noir, well balanced and unapologetic. The duo of wines speaks volumes about strong personality and yet high drinkability. Keep your eyes out for the pair.