Four Pillars has released its first Single Vineyard Bloody Shiraz Gin, which it describes as “tiny in quantity, large in flavour and complexity”. The grapes for the gin were sourced exclusively from Yarra Yering’s Underhill Shiraz vineyard.
Yarra Yering winemaker Sarah Crowe moved to the Yarra Valley from the Hunter Valley in September 2013, just a couple of months before Four Pillars released its first gins in December 2013.
“Crowey” as she is known, soon became a great friend of the distillery and in 2020 co-founder Cameron McKenzie asked if she had a few older barrels that Four Pillars might use to mature some gins at Healesville. Crowe gave him some Dry Red No.1 & 2 barrels in a trade for more gin for herself and the Yarra Yering staff.
McKenzie put some Rare Dry Gin into the barrels, thinking he could make a special Barrel Aged gin finished in the great French barrels, which had exclusively aged these iconic red wines. But then things took a juicy turn.
Come mid-2020 he was wondering about the gin in these barrels and a simple thought came to mind – “What if we bought a tonne of shiraz from Yarra Yering, off Underhill ideally and made a super intense Bloody Shiraz gin, somehow also utilising the gins in the YY barrels . . .”
It seemed pretty far-fetched and Crowe had to agree to part with one tonne of her precious limited resource. But she agreed and … at a not entirely insignificant cost … a remarkable new gin drink was the result.
The Underhill vineyard was planted in 1973 by Ivan Vlasic on a north-facing slope in Gruyere and is one of the Yarra Valley’s oldest shiraz vineyards. Ivan named the vineyard Prigorje after his home region in Croatia, which literally means ‘foothills’. The vineyard was acquired by Dr Carrodus and became known as Underhill, a tribute to its location at the base of the Warramate Hills. Yarra Yering has produced a single vineyard Underhill Shiraz since 1989 and this year celebrates 30 vintages.
The 2022 Halliday Wine Companion Awards recently named Yarra Yering 2019 Dry Red Wine No 1 as it’s Wine of the Year. Judge Jane Faulkner said: “This is mesmerising. Do take time to bask in its fragrance – all floral and spicy with some aniseed and fresh herbs. Enjoy the poised fruit flavours of blackberries, mulberries and a hint of blueberries coated in spicy oak and tethered to the body of the wine. Pulsing acidity and beautiful tannin structure shape this and offer a promise of more to come in time. Wow – what a wine.”
So how did Four Pillars make this gin? They took the whole bunches of the Underhill shiraz fruit and added them to the gin that had by this point spent about 14 months in the YY Dry Red No.1 & 2 barrels.
Then they let nature take its course, with the colour and juice from the berries steeping into the gin before pressing the gin off to discover it had become more and more interesting and complex, with an almost Amaro-like intensity and richness balanced with an incredible sense of bright, fresh grape flavours.
“We loved the resultant drink, but thought it could do with some additional bitterness so we added a small amount of organic gentian to balance out the intense sweetness,” the distillery notes.
“We also landed at 41.8% alcohol by volume, which is around 10% stronger than the regular Bloody Shiraz Gin which sits at 37.8% ABV. The additional alcohol engenders more warmth and extra ‘oomph’ to the palate.
“The result? Well no gin-based drink we have ever seen has tasted quite like this. It is far removed from our regular Bloody Shiraz Gin; deeper in colour, higher in alcohol, more intense in sweetness and considerably more complex in flavour. The tannins are stronger and the Amaro-like bitterness adds a dryness that makes this very sippable.
“Tasting the final gin required a couple of ice cubes and, unusually for us, some quiet moments of concentration and reflection. It’s a bit mad and it will definitely challenge perceptions of what gin can be.”
Mackenzie added: “We could never have done this without Sarah Crowe and the incredible team at Yarra Yering and our own crew have put enormous love, care and attention into this gin. We hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we loved making it.”
Bloody Underhill Shiraz Gin is the first release of what will become an annual Bloody Shiraz Single Vineyard Series. It’s available from August 24, 2021, at www.fourpillarsgin.com, at the Four Pillars Distillery, Healesville, Vic and Four Pillars Lab, Surry Hills, Sydney and at selected Dan Murphy’s (very limited) from September. RRP $175.00, 700mL. ABV 41.8%.
Categories: New releases