I tried the wines of Mitchell Harris when they unleashed their first babies in 2008.
At that time, I'd just opened the Union Bank Wine Store in Orange, NSW. I was looking for wines that celebrated the regions from which they came, and producers who understood and appreciated the importance of quality focused, (V)independent retail stores.
I bought several cases of each of the initial releases from Mitchell Harris, and sold whatever I was lucky enough to procure to the bourgeoisie of Orange. It's a larger customer-base than you might imagine.
We've all learnt a lot in the meantime. While I've retuned to Sydney. the Mitchell Harris crew have remained, arguably, the strongest (and definitely youngest) advocates for the Pyrenees region. They didn't discover them, but they've certainly fought for the recognition of single vineyard sites within the undulating slopes of the region.
I've reviewed each of the wines Johnno Harris sent me (below), typing as I taste....no editing. Welcome to Vindpendent Reviews.
2012 SABRE by Mitchell Harris (Chardonnay 75%, Pinot Noir 25%)
The wine shows youth in the glass. Paler than its age would suggest. A soft bead rises slowly to the top of the glass.
It’s aged in bottle for 3 years before release, which has allowed it time to integrate and blossom.
There’s brioche; white stone fruits; and oyster shell on the nose – Pinot strawberries poke through the Chardonnay nuttiness.
The bubbles are gentle – the palate carries pristine cool-climate fruit through to a crisp acid-tapered finish. It’s a delightful aperitif style. Sits high in the landscape of Australian Sparkling wine, and is a far better drink than many NV Champagnes. It will also reward time in the cellar.
Price - $42 Closure – Cork Alc – 12.5% Sample from Winery
2014 Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Sauvignon Blanc Fume
Not your average Sauvignon, and thank goodness.
This has the grapefruit aromatics of classic Fume Blanc, with lemon rind and smokiness adding complexity. The real deal. Struck match and quality oak tame the variety.
There’s a creaminess and skinsy texture to the palate that re-affirms the skill of the winemaker. It’s compelling and serious…arguably too serious for many who default to this variety.
Price - $26.50 Closure – Screwcap Alc – 12% Sample from Winery
2014 Mitchell Harris Sangiovese
Sangiovese should look like this – dark cherry, fading to crimson edges. Proudly medium weight.
The nose is classic – bright red cherries; pencil shavings; and earth.
The palate follows suit – will resonate with lovers of Chianti – dark cherries, tapenade – hurtling towards a savoury, chewy, tannin driven finish. Equally confronting for those who are used to more primary, fruit driven Australian interpretations of Sangiovese.
This screams for slow-cooked lamb or antipasto – definitely needs food.
Price - $30 Closure – Screwcap Alc – 12.8% Sample from Winery
2013 Mitchell Harris Mataro
The first Pyrenees Mataro I’ve come across. I suspect the variety is extremely rare in the region.
Shows the hallmark uniformity of hue (from centre to rim) – brooding but not dense.
Lots of white pepper and clove-driven spice – rhubarb and red plums. It’s fresh and vivacious. Plenty of life left in it. The use of older oak allows the fruit to express itself and evolve.
It’s a fantastic glass of wine. Arguably a “hard sell”, but it shouldn’t be.
Price - $30 Closure – Screwcap Alc – 13.8% Sample from Winery
2013 Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Shiraz
The “flagship” red of Mitchell Harris, Pyrenees Shiraz has long been celebrated and rightfully so.
It smells as if it was bottled yesterday – bright purple fruits – red licorice, pepper and wood-spice.
A lovely combination of dark, purple and blue fruits with cinnamon spice. Just enough weight to carry the fruit. Oak is interwoven through the wine, providing sinew and savouriness.
There’s a Cornas sensibility at play here; a fineness and an aristocratic bent that screams of class.
Price - $35 Closure – Screwcap Alc – 13.8% Sample from Winery
2013 Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet can look much darker than this when poured….but never judge a book….
Cedar, tobacco, spearmint, and blackcurrants lead the aromatic charge. Less is more.
It’s compelling, because its elegance and aristocratic leanings are seldom found in New-World Cabernets.
I find no chocolate, as the back label of the bottle suggests – this wine has flesh without being overt. Rather – this is a Cabernet for purists. It will last longer than I will, and offer plenty of joy to those who revel in precision and detail.
Price - $30 Closure – Screwcap Alc – 13.5% Sample from Winery
Thank you for reading this far down!
If you'd like any more information, or want to talk about any wine(s) you've tried that you love (or hate) send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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He's a terrific communicator. His words are measured, as are his scores out of 100. It's why, when Campbell rates wines I tend to seek them out.