Wednesday Wines – Episode 160 – 2021 Swinney Farvie Preview

I had the great pleasure of tasting the first sample bottles of the new 2021 Farvie releases with Matt Swinney in the beautiful surroundings of the Academicians Club at The Royal Academy. Moments into this meeting, it occurred to me that this was the perfect place to experience these particular vinous works of art. The magical combination of the Swinney’s precision viticulture and Rob Mann’s sensitive winemaking has made these wines some of the most sought-after in Australia. No Farvie Grenache was made in 2021 because Rob and Matt felt the fruit was not quite up to the required standard. This decision shows the ruthlessness with which these wines are made and graded. Having said this, the two Swinney estate wines that feature Grenache will be bound to be of a unique and elevated quality in 2021! This is the first vintage in which a Farvie Mourvèdre has been released, and I am told that in 2022 and 2023, a trio of Farvie wines will be made. I am already an enormous fan of the Farvie wines and have written up all previous vintages of Farvie on this website. Please use the search facility if you would like to look at back catalogue vintages.

NB – these two wines will arrive in the UK imminently, and they will be released this week in Australia

2021 Swinney, Farvie Mourvèdre Frankland River, Great Southern, Western Australia 14%

14% alc

3.58 pH

Production – 63 dozen

100% whole bunches

Maturation in one 600l four-year-old French oak demi muid for 11 months

The nose is terrific here, mobbed with mulberries, cloves, plums and wild cherries, and then, at once, without warning, you are in an elevator plummeting down below ground where you find ironstone, gravel, bitterness, smokiness and raw meaty malevolence. This is a spectacular wine with drama and dynamism, and it takes over the senses and guides you through its chapters of flavour. There are discreet Bandol references here, but they are red, not black, and while I try to find synergies between this elite Mourvèdre and the finest incarnations of this grape on the planet, I find myself distracted by Nebbiolo skin traction, Morey-Saint-Denis flesh and Mencía coolness. The soil, microclimate, proximity to the ocean and Frankland River sunshine all conspire to make this a genuinely unique wine, and I cannot think of a more delicious or complete Mourvèdre on earth. The acidity alone sets it apart from all Bandols, as does the purity of fruit and the silkiness, and the stems allow the flavours to transcend any other wines I have tasted made from this epic variety because they provide the unbreakable lattice work on which the fruit is laid out. Texturally this is pure silk. It is only a couple of years old, but it can be enjoyed already, and I feel that 90+% of its skills are already on display, but it will continue to evolve over a decade. This is another game-changer at Swinney, and I cannot wait for the 2022 and 2023 – let’s hope they can make more than just one barrel of this celestial wine.  19.5/20

2021 Swinney, Farvie Syrah, Frankland River, Western Australia 14%

14% alc

3.68 pH

Production – 220 dozen

58% whole bunches

Maturation in three and four-year-old French barrels for 11 months

I have tasted all of the back vintages of Farvie Syrah, so I have a firmly held frame of reference for this wine. This means this is a cooler and more classically-shaped vintage within a relatively cool wine-growing region. Picked from the very best parcels of fruit, the flavours are pristine, with elevated herbal details and mouth-watering mintiness. Again, an iron-rich, bloody core to this elemental wine pins your palate down while it strides around, purposefully making itself heard. This is a medium-weight wine with so much expression and buoyancy that it comes across as refreshing and uplifting. Then, the tannins come in and nip away at your taste buds, adding salinity and tension.  A little behind the Mourvèdre in terms of drinking, this is a stunning Farvie Syrah, and I anticipate it will need a couple of years to find its true equilibrium. Refined, smooth, timeless and cultured, this is a stellar interpretation of this noble grape, and it perfectly conveys its character with magnificent control and uncommon immediacy.  19/20