I was fortunate to taste my featured three wines last October in Perth at a Swinney masterclass that I was honoured to be asked to host. I was instructed to inform the guests that this was an extraordinary event, not least because they were tasting these three 2022s six months before their official launch. In addition to this trio, we tasted some of the finest Grenaches, Mourvèdres and Syrahs on earth.
Here is the list of the wines tasted at the Farvie International Benchmark Tasting –
2019 Swinney, Farvie, Frankland River Grenache
2018 Alvaro Palacios, L’Ermita, Priorat, Spain
2020 Comando G, El Tamboril Garnacha, Sierra de Gredos, Madrid, Spain
2020 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, La Crau, Domaine du Vieux Télélgraphe, Southern Rhône, France
2022 Swinney, Farvie, Frankland River Grenache
2021 Swinney, Farvie, Frankland River Mourvèdre
2020 Casa Castillo, Pie Franco, Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain
2020 Château de Pibarnon, Bandol Rouge, Provence, France
2020 Domaine Tempier, La Tourtine, Bandol, Provence, France
2022 Swinney, Farvie, Frankland River Mourvèdre
2019 Swinney, Farvie, Frankland River Syrah
2018 Côte-Rôtie La Turque, E. Guigal, Northern Rhône, France
2020 Côte-Rôtie, Domaine Jamet Northern Rhône, France
2021 Hermitage, Le Gréal, Domaine M. Sorrel, Northern Rhône, France
2022 Swinney Farvie Frankland River Syrah
As you can see, each bracket was bookended by a younger Farvie vintage and the, at the time, unreleased 2022s. According to my notes and the reaction from the Aussie wine scribes and the highly informed private collectors in the audience, the Farvie wines sat in the highest echelons of this collection. The fact that the 2022s, which were toddlers by comparison to the other wines, fared so well, is in no small part down to their extraordinary balance and impact.
This elite scion of the Swinney portfolio debuted with the 2018 vintage, and in five short years, Farvie has carved out an indelible identity right at the top tier of the world wine scene. If these wines are not yet in your cellar, they should be, and these notes might go some way to explaining why.
2022 Swinney, Farvie Frankland River Mourvèdre, Great Southern, Western Australia
Vineyard: 100% Wilson’s Pool
Grape varieties: 100% Mourvèdre
Analysis: pH 3.68, TA 5.2, RS 0.48g/l
Notes from Swinney (edited): The fruit is dry-grown bush vine Mourvèdre from a small selection, based on soil type, from the Swinney Wilson’s Pool vineyard. This section of the vineyard has leaner topsoil with a higher percentage of lateritic gravel. Fruit-thinning and selective hand harvesting are carried out over multiple passes, ensuring we achieve as close to perfect fruit as possible. The fruit was hand-picked, berry-sorted and gravity-fed to a French oak vat. We incorporated 66% whole bunches followed by wild fermentation to build structure and texture while promoting bright and spicy aromatics. The wine spent 11 days on skins and was pressed directly to fine-grained, large format, seasoned French oak and aged for 11 months before bottling. The wine was made with minimum effective sulphites, unfined, and minimally filtered.
My notes: Having fallen head over heels with this wine in the 2021 vintage, my stomach was in knots when I approached the 2022 in Perth. Would ‘second album syndrome’ strike? Not a chance. This wine’s fanfare is all-encompassing, with an epic nose that is striking, fruit-packed and sophisticated. There are abundant rose petals, plum and red cherry notes, and sensual waves of florality and bounteous juiciness are countered by intense, brittle minerality. The acid line scours the palate with masochistic striations that form the tramlines on which this wine delivers its message with tireless accuracy. And then you notice that something is missing. Unlike virtually every other mesmeric Mourvèdre on earth, oak is seemingly missing. Of course, this is an illusion because behind every cache of flavour molecules sits a silent oak nuance, hidden from view but doing the covert task of adding grandeur and detail without craving any credit. This is another jaw-dropping wine, and it stands a chance of running a longer race than the 2021, too, so be sure to secure your stock. 19.5+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2040)
2022 Swinney, Farvie Frankland River Grenache, Great Southern, Western Australia
Vineyard: 100% Wilson’s Pool
Grape varieties: 96% Grenache, 4% Mourvèdre
Analysis: pH 3.46, TA 5.3, RS 0.33g/l
Notes from Swinney (edited): This fruit was hand-picked from established, dry-grown bush vine Grenache and Mourvèdre on the gravelly loam soils of our Swinney Wilson’s Pool Vineyard. This section within the vineyard has leaner topsoil with a higher percentage of lateritic gravel. Fruit-thinning and selective hand harvesting over multiple passes ensured we achieved as close to perfect fruit as possible. The fruit was hand-picked, berry-sorted and gravity-fed to French oak fermenters. We incorporated 28% whole bunches followed by wild fermentation to build structure and texture while promoting bright and spicy aromatics. The wine spent 11 days on skins and was then basket-pressed directly to fine-grained, large format, seasoned French oak and aged for 11 months before bottling. The wine was made with minimum effective sulphites, unfined, and minimally filtered.
My notes: Now that Farvie is a trio, and not a duo, and the Mourvèdre sits neatly in between the Grenache and Syrah in terms of hue, timbre and attitude, this Grenache seems more succulent, fragrant and blushingly attractive than ever. It is imperceptibly lighter, more rhubarb and pomegranate-tinged and creamier than ever. The colour is a crimson and carmine amalgam, and the nose is akin to a stroll through an Amazonian arboretum. It is sexy, and it knows it, and before it gets too lascivious, on cue, it firms up, dries out and ends with a vicious lick of stern acidity. After such a lavish welcome, this finish is fantastic because it snaps your senses to attention and reminds you that while Farvie Grenache is a consummate charmer, beneath the surface, it is a weaponised wine with extraordinary skill. 19+/20 (Drink 2025 – 2035)
2022 Swinney, Farvie Frankland River Syrah, Great Southern, Western Australia
Vineyards: 78% Powderbark B2, 22% Wilson’s Pool 801
Grape varieties: 100% Syrah
Analysis: pH 3.62, TA 5.8, RS 0.41 g/l
Notes from Swinney (edited): This fruit is dry-grown, vertically trellised Syrah from our Powderbark B2 and Wilson Pool 801 garden project vineyard sites. Only a sub-section of soil in both blocks is farmed for Farvie in a way that both nourishes and balances the fruit to optimum levels to allow dry farming. The use of shade cloth on the side of the vines that receives the afternoon sun and rigorous shoot positioning, and bunch selection further refines the unique expression so critical to the personality of this fruit. The fruit was hand-picked, berry-sorted and gravity-fed to a French oak vat and two demi-muids. We incorporated 65% whole bunches followed by wild fermentation to build structure and texture while promoting bright and spicy aromatics. The wine spent 12 days on skins and was pressed directly to fine-grained, large format, seasoned French oak and aged for 14 months before bottling. The wine was made with minimum effective sulphites, unfined, and minimally filtered.
My notes: The colour alone stops you in your tracks because it is as near-black as possible, interwoven with ravishing midnight blue and sanguineous red tones. The nose seems to take its instruction from the colour, with a profoundly deep engine of malevolent, night-walker-style blackberry and black cherry tones, shot through with Swedish liquorice, fresh peaty soil and cracked black peppercorns. If Nosferatu, Voldemort, Moriarty and Sauron caught up on a day off, they would drink this wine. And given its freshness and purity, it wouldn’t leave them slow off the mark after their rendezvous because, for all of the awe-inspiring qualities in the glass, this is one of the most dynamic Syrahs on earth. Lividity and dynamism join forces to make this another remarkable declaration of the power and poise found in the great Frankland River terroir brought to the fore by inspirational winemaking. 19.5+/20 (Drink 2026 – 2040)