Faber Wines Retrospective Tasting – Part Two: Reserve Shiraz and Frankland River Cabernet
Barry Weinman: 12 October 2017
A few single vineyard wines sit at the top of the Faber quality tree. In the case of The Reserve Shiraz, all fruit comes from 2 acres of estate vines planted in 1998. The cuttings for these vines came from Houghton’s Frankland vineyard.
The grapes are effectively used to make 3 wines. Immediately after crushing, 1/3 of the juice is drained off the top of the tank and sold to another producer. The free run juice is then used as the base for the Riche Shiraz and accounts for another 1/3 of the juice. Finally, the juice from the pressings is used to make The Reserve.
The juice from the pressings is then transferred to 200l tanks with the various portions kept separate whilst the fermentation continues. The best of these tanks are then transferred to 300l French oak barrels (100% new) to complete the ferment. Each year only 4 barrels are used. Over time, the best of these barrels are ear-marked for the Reserve.
The winemaking aims to be hands-off, with all key decisions relating to how the vineyard is managed and when the fruit is picked/sorted. In most years only 2 – 3 barrels make it to the final wine, resulting in a tiny production of between 600 – 900 bottles.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2001. Made from three year old vines, the fruit is showing a lot of leather and spice. Gets a little chewy on the close with fine tannins and acidity adding freshness. Excellent drinking, with plenty of life.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2003. Supple, fine and elegant, the dark berry/plum and chocolate fruit is balanced by souring acidity. The tannins and oak have softened, providing mouth-coating texture and fine grip on the finish. A lovely wine from an excellent year.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2005. More freshness here, with real vibrancy to the fruit. The berry flavours are complemented by dark chocolate notes. Very long, the intense fruit retains balance right to the close. A slight resinous character from the oak adds a savoury lift. Superb drinking.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2009. Lovely aromatics showing plum, chocolate and spice. The palate is a joy, the dense vibrant fruit absorbing the oak with aplomb. The finish is fine and remarkably elegant for a wine of this power and depth. Silky, though the oak and tannins build with air on a drying finish.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2014. Closed, tight and powerful, this is a wonderful example of warm-climate Shiraz. Again, the ripe fruit has swallowed up the oak, allowing the berry characters to carry the length of the palate. The length of flavours is a highlight, as is the mouth-coating texture. A fine wine that has a long future.
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2015 . This is remarkably similar to the 2014, with the dense, high quality fruit the focus. The oak adding texture and depth, rather than dominating the fruit.
Frankland River Cabernet
Whilst the focus of Faber is primarily on the Swan Valley, when appropriate fruit becomes available John is excited to make wines from other districts. The Frankland River Cabernet is an example of this. Apparently, the fruit for this wine comes from a small block of vines that typically supplies Houghton. The vineyard was planted in 1998.
This really is micro winemaking, with only 1 – 2 barrels made per year. The wine spends 22 months in new French oak.
Faber – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2004. Still has vibrancy and life. Mint, eucalypt, spice, texture, length of flavor and oak merely for texture. A lovely wine in its drinking window.
Faber – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2010. Mint, eucalypt and gentle herbal notes. Fine, elegant, refined and long. A wine of distinction.
Faber – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2012. This wine really stands out in the lineup, with dense blackberry fruit. More textural, and very long, with the youthful fruit paired to chewy tannins and fine-grained oak. Really needs food now, or ten years in the cellar.
Faber – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2014. Closed and tight, with chewy textural components. A reserved, fine wine that needs time.