Ben Haines Marsanne 2011
The vineyards he chooses are those possessing great interest, charm and depth, and that capture a sense of mystique. Ben’s base is the Yarra Valley where he has made wine at Yering Station and Mount Langi Ghiran. His own exploration goes far beyond. Having trained in viticulture, he pays close attention to what’s happening in each vineyard throughout the growing season. His wines are intensely textural with flavors continuing to develop sip after sip. Fruit is expressive, structure is present without being constraining.
From around Victoria, Ben has crafted single-vineyard expressions of Rhone varieties in small batches. He also has a series of wines called "B Minor", including blends that speak to him and his musical background, as well as an undisgorged Blanc de Blanc. Unfined and unfiltered wines that are intended to express, in his words, ‘the vineyard in a glass’.
As the most important area of wine production in Victoria today, the Yarra Valley is most popular for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which account for over half of vineyard acreage. A gentle, rolling and rural region alongside the Margaret River, the Yarra Valley has a cool maritime climate with a lengthy growing season, perfect for these cool-climate varieties.
Two styles of Pinot Noir are possible here. The warmer Lower Yarra Valley with sandy, loam soils, produces plush and fruity Pinot Noir while the cooler, higher-elevation Upper Yarra Valley with soils of young red basalt, produces more angular and mineral-driven Pinot Noir.
Yarra Valley Chardonnay is among the best in Australia. To preserve the floral aromatics and fresh citrus flavors for which this area’s Chardonnay is so appreciated, time in barrel is restrained (though barrel fermentation is common). The best Yarra Valley Chardonnays display brilliant acidity, leesy characteristics, citrus, stone fruit and flavors of ginger and spice.
One of the star whites of the Rhône Valley and ubiquitous throughout southern France, historically vignerons have favored Marsanne for its hardy and productive vines. It can make a fruity and delicious single varietal wine as well as a serious, full-bodied version with amazing aging potential. The best examples of Marsanne come from the northern Rhone appellations where it is also blended with Roussanne. Sommelier Secret—Some of the oldest Marsanne vines in the entire world exist not in France but in Australia, in the Victoria region. Settlers planted it in the mid to late 1800s, calling it “white Hermitage.”