I was thrilled to sit down with Mount Pleasant’s chief winemaker, Adrian Sparks, to taste the new releases from this legendary Aussie estate. I have it on good authority that these wines are all on a boat heading our way, so take note because they are truly delicious and will make fabulous additions to any serious wine collection.
Adrian is only the fifth chief winemaker in Mount Pleasant’s 100-year history in the Hunter Valley. This winery’s founder was none other than Maurice O’Shea, who established Mount Pleasant in 1921. O’Shea is widely regarded as setting the bar for modern Australian winemaking, and his legacy is as strong today as it was when he was in his cellar. Adrian has continued the Mount Pleasant mantra of making elegant, balanced and sensitive wines that are true to their old vineyard settings. It is clear that this famous winery has come alive again after a period of uncertainty and under the new ownership of Anthony Medich. Making 15000 cases of wine a year from estate-grown fruit only and completely swerving the 2020 vintage due to the bushfires and smoke taint issues, this is a winery with a no-compromise approach, and the flight of wine below showed just how focussed they are.
I urge you to look at the Mount Pleasant website here to read more about the incredible vineyards that form the heart of this fascinating portfolio.
2017 Mount Pleasant, Elizabeth, Cellar Aged Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD36
Smooth, calm, controlled and generously fruited, this is a perfectly-honed wine with a pretty, floral nose and a lip-smacking finish. While it reminds me of some of the Elizabeths from years gone by, there is a degree of polish here that is compelling and extremely easy to enjoy. I imagine it will make immediate and hopefully lifelong friends with everyone it meets! 18/20
(Drink now – 2026)
2017 Mount Pleasant, Lovedale, Single Vineyard Cellar Aged Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD90
It is lovely to reacquaint myself with my favourite single-vineyard Semillon, and this 2017 vintage picks up where my flavour memories left off. Along with the stunning control and uplifting freshness, devastating freshness here transports the palate to a higher plane of enjoyment. Super long, citrusy, grippy, salty and invigorating, this is a thoroughly indulgent wine that does not like being shared with more than one other person (if one must)! 19+/20 (Drink now – 2032)
2019 Mount Pleasant, Rosehill, Single Vineyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD60
This wine will prove, once and for all, that the old category for wines of this kind was ‘Hunter Valley Pinot’, not Hunter Valley Shiraz. Decades later, nothing has changed because Rosehill is silky-smooth, strawberry-scented, and a wine about which one can genuinely use the much-abused moniker ‘ethereal’. This is a racy rouge that is crunchy, cool, saline and refreshing, and it floats instead of glides across the palate with devastating accuracy. With 20% new, large format oak employed the seasoning in this energetic wine, made from vines planted in 1965, is spot on and it heightens the perfume and lengthens the palate adding discreet spice to the whole. 18/20 (Drink now – 2032)
2019 Mount Pleasant, O.P. & O.H., Single Vineyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD60
Made from two parcels, Old Paddock (planted in 1921) and Old Hill (planted in 1880), and given a touch more new oak than Rosehill and also some barriques in among the larger formats, this is a darker and more expressive wine with mulberry and plum notes over a blackberry core. I love the fleshiness and the buoyancy of the fruit here. As it is a couple of shades darker and a couple of cracks of pepper spicier than Rosehill, it is the perfect wine to select when you fancy a weightier wine with a more powerful main course dish. Having said this, the trademark freshness zooms in on the finish, reminding you that you have a Mount Pleasant wine in your glass. This is one of the most resonant wines I have ever tasted under this label. 18.5+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2034)
2019 Mount Pleasant, Mount Henry, Shiraz / Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD40
Created by Maurice O’Shea in 1944, this is a hilarious mash-up of Shiraz and Pinot Noir, and it certainly delivers a unique flavour with creamy raspberry, rhubarb and cherry flavours. Stylish, cool, diverting and questioning, this is a blast from the past, and it has been brought up to the present day with careful fruit handling and velvety-smooth winemaking. 18+/20 (Drink now – 2028)
2019 Mount Pleasant, Maurice O’Shea, Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia RRP AUD300
The great man is honoured with his signature on this label, and I must say that this wine and the rest of the portfolio have certainly enjoyed a very respectful and eye-catchingly simple redesign that suits the new sense of composure and direction at this renowned estate. Refined, stunningly layered and without a molecule out of place, this is a honed and intensely fruited wine that doesn’t once step over the line into excess. A model of decorum, as befitting a tribute as important as this one, 2019 O’Shea is a beautiful wine with an excellent 20-year life ahead of it. 19+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2040)