Sensational quality wine from the Orange, NSW wine growing region.
2016 Maurice (12 bottle case)
2016 Maurice (12 bottle case)
Dense blood-red in colour, the fine, lifted bouquet of red black fruits easing through a palate of ripe, dark chocolate compliments the vanillin char from extended gentle maturation in fine-grained French oak hogsheads. The same black fruity spices suffuse a long-textured, well balanced fleshy palate framed in graceful, integrated tannins. Careful medium term cellaring will add to your enjoyment of this wine.
Bloodwood Maurice is a cellar style of wine which represents, for us, the best few barrels from the best vintages in terms of quality and longevity here at Bloodwood. Ipso facto, ( I’ve always wanted to say that when talking about wine) not every vintage is good enough for a release of a Bloodwood "Maurice". We have to find around six hogsheads (1800 litres) of red wine which we consider to be of high enough quality and interest to qualify. There is no strict varietal mix from year to year, but generally it will be a wine built around Cabernet Sauvignon. (Having said that, the 1998 Maurice, which was entirely Merlot Noir, won high praise from Jancis Robinson.) This wine is our small tribute to the legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea whose habit it was to visit cellars soon after each vintage and purchase barrels of the best wines he found. These wines he transported back to Mt Pleasant and blended into his own Maurice (O’Shea).
I’m writing this on the 9th March 2016 and we’ve just hand-picked the last of this year’s fruit from the lower Shiraz vineyard. (The only grapes still out are those we hope to make in to another Silk Purse if the weather holds). Unlike most vineyards in Australia, our Shiraz is always later to mature than our Cabernet Sauvignon. It usually ripens four or five days after the Cabernet vineyard and traditionally it has been gathered around the end of the first week in April. Now, every wine maker understands that vintage dates jump around a little according to the season, however, until this year, the earliest we have ever completed harvest was 20th March. That record was set in last year’s vintage. The 20th March is an important date in the viticultural scheme of things for Bloodwood. For the first couple of decades it was generally around the date we commenced harvest. Rhonda always seemed to be unimpressed that her birthday celebrations were regularly subsumed under a sticky morass of Chardonnay must and hard physical work. Recently, this seems no longer to be the case. There’s still plenty of work to do in the winery putting the vintage to bed. However, the madness of vintage for an outfit which still persists with hand-picking and slow wine making can be eased through a shared bottle of Bloodwood Maurice. So what does this year’s wine look like at this juncture? In short, it looks pretty good. The concern with this very warm and dry early vintage was that the fruit would respire its essence and blow out in alcohol levels before we could get round to hand-harvesting it. Luckily, with the aid of the excellent Team Bloodwood, (and a few additional picking bins used as open fermenters when the pressure was really on), we seemed to manage well enough through the totally dry conditions of February and March. For the first time at Bloodwood, we had to give the winery heat exchanger a real workout to help cool warm ferment temperatures and this has helped mightily in retaining the freshness natural acid balance of our fruit. Traditionally, the issue here has been warming ferments to completion as autumnal temperatures plummet, but not this year. Time will tell, but early indications suggest that 2016 will do no harm to the reputation of Bloodwood wines with the Schubert, Riesling, Pinot and Cabernet performing very well.
The winemaking for this wine style really comes down to a major blending session, often over several weeks of decisions and revisions which several minutes will reverse. (Apologies Mr. Eliot). As mentioned above, this wine is a cellar selection of the best blend of red wines (with the exception of Pinot Noir) we have from the vintage. So the winemaking is according to the individual components of the blend. The cepage in this case ended up being 90% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 10% pressings of Cabernet Franc, Merlot Noir and Malbec. This assemblage was bottled in September 2018 and released rather too early in August 2019.