Tyrrell’s 4 Acres and Old Patch 2018

Price : $90

VALUE FOR MONEY?

June 14, 2019

This is an unusual piece in the context of this site. The specific mission of WineOwl is to help everyday people buy good value wines, yet today I’m reviewing two $90-a-bottle reds you’ll never see in a shop. These two wines – Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz 2018 and Tyrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2018 – are sold almost exclusively via the winery’s “private bin” club. They are fully sold out in advance via members standing orders and there’s a waiting list for both. However, they are two of Australia’s best wines – and indeed among the best in the world according to some global critics – and you should know more about them.

About Tyrrell’s

Tyrrell is one of the oldest names in Australian wine. The family has been growing grapes in the Hunter Valley since an English immigrant named ward Tyrrell started planting vines in the 1860s. Today the family is in the hands of it’s fourth and fifth generation and still going strong. In fact, they are producing better wines than ever.

Edward Tyrrell was responsible for planting one of the vineyards I’m talking about today – 4 Acres – back in 1879. The vines he toiled away at are still producing magnificent fruit today. Meanwhile, the vines used to make the Old Patch are, amazingly, even older, dating back to 1867. These are some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world (there are a couple of older vineyards in South Australia) and something we should treasure. Europe does not have vines like these.

Before I get into it, if you’re not familiar with Hunter Valley Shiraz, this is a vastly different proposition to the South Australian examples that dominate our shelves. These are light to medium bodied wines built on acidity rather than tannins. In a way, they are closer to Pinot Noir than to a Barossa Shiraz, though that comparison doesn’t do them justice either. They are their own thing.

The Review: Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz 2018

This is just so nice to smell. The nose is deep, pretty and extremely complex. It seems insufficient to pull out individual descriptors but to give you an idea: red fruits, flowers/perfume and spice. I wanted to smell it for hours. On the palate there’s a remarkable, vibrant acidity that’s complemented by the finest-grained tannins I think I’ve ever tried. Light bodied, or perhaps the lightest end of medium bodied. It’s got length for days – just goes on and on and on after swallowing. An utter delight to drink.

The Review: Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2018

Before I get into it, it’s worth highlighting how much this wine has in common with the 4 Acres: Same region, same vintage, same producer, same grape variety, grown on old vines and aged in used oak for a similar amount of time in both cases. And yet they are unmistakably different, despite both being of equally high quality. The difference: The vinyard – that’s the concept of terroir right there for you.

The nose is notably less generous at this stage. It feels a little closed, though it’s tending towards black fruits rather than the red fruits of the 4 Acres. It’s medium bodied, a little denser than it’s sibling though still light on its feet. Perfectly balanced on the palate but its the tannins that are the star of the show – fine grained as with the 4 Acres but they feel like they are unfurling four ages after swallowing, fairly well dancing across the tongue. Only the best wines do that. Something to behold.

Of the two, I prefer the 4 Acres at this stage though I won’t be at all surprised if the Old Patch pips it over the next few decades (and I suspect these wines will still be going strong into the second half of this century).

Are they good value?

As for the value question – like I said, these are two of the best wines available in Australia. They are easily up there, quality wise, with the likes of Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace. Those wines will set you back around $800 a bottle and while I’m not convinced any wine is worth that amount of money, I think $90 is more than fair for these two from Tyrrell’s.

Like I said, these can’t be bought easily, though they will show up on auction sites like Langtons regularly. If you want to get your hands on future releases though, you can sign up to Tyrrell’s Private Bin club. The waiting list isn’t that long, especially for Old Patch, and there are lots of other great wines on offer as well.

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  • Region: Hunter Valley

  • Alcohol Percentage: 13.8% (4 Acres) 13.5% (Old Patch)

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