(Image: The Real Review: The Farr family and winemaking team at Wine by Farr. KRISTOFFER PAULSEN FOR GOOD WEEKEND)
The Real Review Winery of the Year Australia 2022 - Wine by Farr
"Wine by Farr is a stellar producer of complex pinot noirs and beautiful chardonnays, proudly family owned and managed, and strongly vineyard focused. Its wines are all estate grown and made at the Farr family’s winery at Bannockburn in the Geelong wine region."
- Huone Hooke, The Real Review
Vintage 2021 – A year full of Passion, Persistence and Patience
An amazingly challenging yet rewarding vintage has been produced from the 2021 vintage. Rainfall and humidity certainly challenged us throughout the growing season but persistent humidity was meet with a persistent, passionate and determined approach to really create some special wines from conditions not regularly seen in Bannockburn. The team did an amazing job to keep the vineyards canopies open and clean of disease. The moist and mild conditions from November through to early February finished with some great finishing temperatures and sunlight to sustain the great natural acidity and flavour that had built over the final month before picking started on the 9th March.
Very quickly during fermentation a great finesse and length was apparent in the wines. In barrel the freshness of acidity, fine tannins and best of all savoury and elegant fruit flavours certainly suggested that we have a strong vintage to show come release.
By Farr New Releases
The By Farr viognier consists of a blend of fruit from two vineyards. The first is the original house block, planted in 1994, which is friable red soil over limestone leading to sandstone—similar soils to the Sangreal pinot noir and By Farr chardonnay. The second vineyard is a younger planting of unknown clones in red ironstone soil. The viognier is a difficult variety to manage as it has a tendency to grow horizontally rather than vertically, needs a lot of water and can become sunburnt very easily. Because of this we have decided to pick the fruit earlier in the past few years in order to retain its natural acidity, ensuring we maintain varietal character and creating a more delicate and refined wine.
Viognier is foot stomped and left for two or more hours on its skins to extract the phenols, flavour and texture. The fruit is then pressed, cooled and put straight into barrel with all solids for a natural fermentation. Gentle stirring during the end of autumn encourages malolactic fermentation, which softens the finish by converting the tart malic acid to lactic acid. The wine is then racked, fined and filtered. It is ready to be bottled 11 months after harvest.
A lovely perfumed, yet subtle expression of viognier. Fresh peach and apricot flavours as a young wine, which we believe will intensify over time. The palate is restrained, luscious and shows a ginger-flavoured freshness with underlying power and lingering aftertaste. This wine benefits beautifully from 12 months of bottle ageing, as the acid softens.
"Perfect. Dried fruits, led by beautifully obvious, (yet understated) apricot notes. Lifted spice, pushing into a warm perfumed element. A peppery note, celery leaf and something tropical, then ginger and peach, and sweet spice too. But still, the wine has incredible restraint and acid. This wine has avoided being too rich, yet it has maintained every bit of that characteristic viognier soul."
- Ben Knight, Ben and Wine
The By Farr chardonnay comes from the same site as the Sangreal pinot noir—composed of red soil over limestone—and was planted in 1994. The limestone of this site is not exposed on the surface as at other sites. The limestone starts 20 to 30cm below the surface, to the depths of the root zone of the vines. It is a very exposed north-facing slope. The clones used for the chardonnay are a mixture of Dijon clones and Penfolds 58.
The fruit is hand-picked then whole-bunch pressed in the winery. All the solids are collected and chilled before being put to barrel, which are 30 per cent new French oak. A natural fermentation will occur at cool temperatures over the next one to two months, and then a small amount of stirring helps start malolactic fermentation. The wine is then racked, fined and lightly filtered before bottling 11 months after picking. A very mineral site for chardonnay.
The trademark characteristics of the wine produced on our site are understated power and length with a mineral finish. The wine has a great fruit expression that is well integrated with French oak. The soil characteristics have come through in the style of wine we have today. The palate is fine but firm, with great acidity, texture and length. This wine is rich in flavour, yet very refined.
"Super sleek, intense nose, thrilling acid lines, of ripe citrus and river pebbles. It’s mouth-watering, saline and brimming with nervous energy. This shows an understanding of acid like few can. Amazing power for a wine of this weight, it is hard to imagine where the flavour is hiding. Beyond impressive."
- Ben Knight, Ben and Wine
The Farrside vineyard sits on a northeast-facing slope and consists of limestone topped with black volcanic soil. The vines were planted in 2001 and run east-west to protect the fruit from overexposure to the sun. The clones are a mixture of 114, 115, 777, 667 and MV6. Even though the Farrside and Sangreal vineyards are only 300 metres apart, the darker soils and cooler growing conditions of the Farrside vineyard mean these grapes are picked 10 to 12 days after all others and produce a more masculine and edgy wine.
The fruit is hand-picked and sorted in the vineyard, then fermented in an open-top fermenter. Between 40 to 50 per cent of the fruit will be stemmed and then cold soaked for four days. We use only the natural yeast for the fermentation process, which takes roughly 12 days. Grape-stomping (known as pigeage) will occur two to three times a day depending on the amount of extraction required, and the wine is then placed in 50 to 60 per cent new Allier barrels by gravity. It is racked by gas after secondary fermentation, then again at 18 months to be bottled.
Each vintage of Farrside pinot noir exhibits more masculinity, structure and savoury components, while deep meaty, spicy and mineral flavours also continue to evolve. A balanced array of red and black fruits, Farrside pinot noir is fresh and edgy with bucketloads of character. This is a firm yet delicate wine with a long-textured finish.
"Similar in colour to the Sangreal, and a similar sweet spice, with a much firmer palate. These wines have a perfect fade from fruit to structure, a velvet like character that so many don’t. It’s darker, firmer edged and more upright. You can taste a fresher fruit note, black cherries and plums and a sense of fine oak. Really impressive."
- Ben Knight, Ben and Wine
The Sangreal vineyard was planted in 1994, making it our oldest vineyard. It lies on a north-facing slope and the soil composition is bluestone and overlaying limestone, with red ironstone colouring the surface. This is unlike our other vineyards, which are mostly black volcanic soil with heavy amounts of limestone on the surface. The vine rows run north-south, receiving full sun exposure throughout the day, resulting in more perfumed, prettier wines. This is always the first vineyard to be harvested. The clones used in Sangreal are 114 and 115, which we believe have mutated over time to become the ‘Sangreal clone’, now within its own microclimate.
Sangreal is consistently made with 70 per cent whole bunch and aged in 70 percent new oak. It is fermented in a five-tonne oak barrel with an open-top fermenter, and cold soaked for four days before a natural fermentation of seven to nine days. Once the cap falls, the tank is pressed. The wine is racked only once after malolactic fermentation, then sulphured and bottled, the entire process taking a total of 18 months. The wine is unfined and unfiltered in order to retain its natural flavour and bouquet. Sangreal is the most seamless and perfumed of the three single-vineyard pinots.
Each year the same descriptive notes come to mind for this wine: seductive, perfumed, seamless balance and moreish. It is a site that wavers very little in more difficult vintages and excels in the great ones—this is the backbone of By Farr wines. The alluring characters of this vineyard, combined with red fruits, whole bunch, acidity and oak, have produced a beautifully interwoven expression of site and vintage. That’s what it’s all about.
"Love the paucity of colour. This wine has richness, and classic Sangreal perfume and spice. Savoury in the sweet and sour way, lightness, and generosity in equal measure. Cinnamon, cloves, anise, and sour cherries. That classic stem note, dill, and fresh currants. There is a creaminess and softness that only time in barrel brings. A complex and complete wine."
- Ben Knight, Ben and Wine
Shiraz fruit comes from the original By Farr vineyard, planted in 1994. It lies on a north-facing slope, and the red volcanic soil has a base of limestone with deep-set sandstone.
All fruit is hand-picked from the VSP trellising, with 20 per cent left as whole bunches in the fermentation. Most years we co-ferment between 2 and 4 per cent viognier with the shiraz, the date determining whether or not the former is co-fermented and bled back. It is a natural fermentation, with the fruit remaining in the tank for 19 days before pressing. Shiraz sees 18 months in French oak, 20 per cent being new, and is bottled under vacuum.
A powerful nose, with the depth and complexity of cool-climate shiraz. This wine is spiced with pepper and mineral elements, leaning towards earthy. The co-fermented viognier adds a little richness to both the bouquet and palate, which has a very pleasant sweetness to start, followed by intense fruit and earthy long tannins to complete the delicate structure and overall elegance of the wine.
"Think plum and ripe cherries and then a bag of spice and pepper. The palate is soft and slinky, a velvet like texture holding together a summer pudding like aroma palette. Wonderfully savoury and aromatic at the same time. Whilst Pinot Noir takes the limelight at By Farr, you would do yourself a great disservice to not think this is some of the very best Shiraz being made in Australia, and as such, terrifically undervalued."
- Ben Knight, Ben and Wine
Farr Rising 2021 Releases
These wine have stemmed from a very encouraging vintage that took a lot of passion and time to achieve in the vineyards.
Rainfall and humidity certainly challenged us throughout the growing season but persistent humidity was meet with a persistent, passionate and determined approach to really create some special wines from conditions not regularly seen in Bannockburn. The freshness of acidity, fine tannins and best of all savoury and elegant fruit flavours certainly suggested that we have a strong vintage to show now at release.
Great colour, fine minerally textured nose with fruit and integrated French oak almost dominated by the soil characteristics and vibrance of the vintage. The palate is fine but firm with great acidity, texture and length. Simply a delicious wine for all chardonnay loves to try.
This wine is showing beautiful red fruits and sour cherry aromatics before the unravelling of the forest floor and earthy undertones. The structure and tannins are vibrant and defined. We are very happy with this expression of our soils from such a balanced and pure vintage for gamay.
Winefront Review by Mike Bennie
Posted on 24 March 2022
“Sappy, savoury, very herbal and peppery. Stemmy and super green. Tart and drying finish. Zingy, zesty expression here, kind of otherworldly for gamay but doing a decent job of being a refreshing, leaner red.”
(Image: James Broadway)
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