I discovered the Under Woods vineyard in 2011 during my time making wine in the Yarra Valley. I had seen a few wines produced from this fruit, and was intrigued by the impressive aromatic potential and intensity of flavor. It struck me as being a very unique Yarra Valley syrah terroir with its core power, flowing fruit, smatterings of spice and compelling structure; rich and mouth-coating yet somehow lithe and savory as well – a wine with great definition and confidence.
I had intended to make a 2012 from this vineyard, but the entire property was decimated by hail. That was that, but all turned out for the best. 2013 was an absolutely stellar vintage for syrah in the Yarra Valley, and was particularly special for Under Woods.
Steels Creek Vineyard
The vineyard sits just behind the small township of Yarra Glen in the district of Steels Creek. This is a fascinating meso-climate; this is the valley floor, yet typically cooler than many sites of the Yarra Valley due to its steep topography and cold air drainage.
Soil is gravelly loam over hard mudstone. Fruit was selectively hand-picked from steep, hungry NE facing outcrop, cropping at 1.5 ton per acre. This section sits at 150 meters altitude.
37˚38’23.9’’ S, 145˚22’12.8’’ E
16 months maturation
2-5 year old puncheon barrel
Straight-up winemaking. Hand-picked, natural ferment, no pumps.
Bunches were de-stemmed gently enough that berries were unbroken and left alone until they started to ferment naturally. These tannins are silky, but pretty deep and chewy too so I returned about 15% of the bunch-stems that had been toasting in the sun to bring in some fineness to the structure and tighten things up.
Each day, the small amount of juice in the bottom of the ferment was racked and the berries were left to press under their own weight for three hours before juice was returned back over the skins. Berries were foot-stomped during delestage every few days for gentle extraction of skin tannin without leaching harsh seed tannin.
After 4 weeks on skins, the ferment was basket pressed to large format oak barrels and left un-sulphured on gross lees for 14 months until it had clarified itself and the natural dissolved CO2 had started to diminish. It was then racked, blended and bottled without fining or filtration in September 2014 under Diam 10 closure and sealed with pearl white wax. Bottles were laid down for one and a half years prior to release in April 2016.