Reviewed: 12th June 2014
Ferngrove, whilst not an early pioneer of the region, has played an important role in the development of the Great Southern, and the Frankland sub-district in particular. This has been on two fronts. Firstly, they established a reputation for quality wines, but perhaps more importantly, served as contract winemakers for others in the district.
Ferngrove was established in 1998 by Murray Burton. In the last few years though, ownership has moved off-shore, with a Chinese investor (Xingfa Ma) taking over majority control.
The good news for the team at Ferngrove (who now also own Killerby), is that there has been no change in the day-to-day operations. Chris Zur, who joined the team at inception, is still there, serving as Vineyard Manager, as is Kim Horton who has headed up the winemaking team since 2003.
Ferngrove is one of those rare wineries that is capable of making excellent wines at all price points. From the Symbols range (RRP $16.50), through to The Stirlings (RRP $70), the wines deliver on their promise.
The focus of this tasting was the Orchid range. These wines sit at/near the top of the Ferngrove quality tree, with only The Stirlings sitting above them.
Ferngrove – Riesling – Cossack – 2013 (17.5 – 18+). Lovely lime curd and lemon zest fruit here. This is a powerful wine, with taut minerality cutting through the fresh lemon and lime fruit on the palate. Excellent length and persistence, with fresh, brisk acidity that adds drive. Bone dry, this is a lively riesling that will age well. (RRP $23).
Ferngrove – Chardonnay – Diamond – 2012 (17). A complex nose that has Burgundian overtones. Peach and melon characters lead the aromas, but it is the lovely grapefruit accent, combined with slick winemaking that is a highlight. Powerful palate, though it needs a year or two for the fruit to settle back into the oak. Whilst some will find the oak a little obvious now, this is a good mainstream style that will benefit from at least another year or two in bottle (or being given a little air prior to serving). (RRP $25).
Ferngrove – Cabernet Sauvignon – Majestic – 2011 (17.5). Ripe summer berries to the fore on the nose. The palate is bright and varietally correct, with cedary oak and firm tannins giving way to fresh acidity on the finish. Decent length to close. Will reward cellaring. Spent 20 months in new French oak. (RRP $32).
Ferngrove – Malbec – King – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Precise fruit on the nose, with black plum and red berry characters. There is also a touch of menthol and slight dustiness that may come from a touch of residual SO2. The finish is quite firm at present, with the new oak (French and Hungarian) playing a role. That said, there is no doubting the quality of the dense, dark fruit. (RRP $32).
Ferngrove – Shiraz – Dragon – 2011 (18). Beautiful nose that combines ripe, supple fruit with savoury, winemaker’s inputs. The fruit is both floral and fragrant, with savoury plum and cinnamon notes and fresh peppery highlights. The palate is very fine and long, with ripe, supple tannins and oak. Well made, this is a lovely wine now, or in ten years. (RRP $32).