Ravensworth New Releases 2021

Not surprisingly, the Ravensworth style has a lot in common with Clonakilla – the wines are aromatic, light- to medium-bodied, soft of tannin and modest in alcohol. They are beautiful, seductive wines that emphasise fragrance and texture. The reds, led by sangiovese (the first wine Martin made for himself), have very gentle tannins. HUON HOOKE, Gourmet Traveller Wine

Bryan Martin has come a long way since crafting his own wines in the corners and nooks of Clonakilla’s Murrumbatemen winery, in between making Clonakilla’s wines with Tim Kirk. He now has his own winery and has risen to become an iconic figure in Australia’s modern wine scene, managing to appeal to both the swathe of new natural wine devotees as well as those with passions more rooted in classical styles. How has he done this? Through crafting a consistently well made suite of wines that are always incredibly engaging and interesting. Few are as comfortable making an age-worth Rhone leaning shiraz viognier as they are a fresh and fun pet-nat, but Bryan manages it with aplomb.

If I had to pick a defining style that runs through Bryan’s wines it would be one of restraint, texture, aromatic complexity and purity. The wines never feel forced, whites never overworked, reds never over extracted. They sit comfortably in their skin, much in the same way Bryan does.

It might easy to call his Shiraz Viognier “baby Clonakilla” but in reality it’s quite a different beast. More open knit and charismatic in its youth, with more diverse range of aromatic inflections and a gentler press of tannins. It’s a wine that is dense and deep, but its power is understated and comes without the heft and muscle you might expect.

Bryan has long been a champion of Sangiovese in the Canberra region and rather than try and imprint Tuscany into the hills around Canberra, instead Brian has slowly, but assuredly let Sangiovese find its own voice here. Today there are a plethora more high quality Sangiovese in the region but Ravensworth continues to set the benchmark. This vintage has seen a change in this wines’ methodology too, with the wine rested in large foudre for 22 months which sees this wine a little less gregarious in it’s youth, tightly coiled and ready to show itself in full with a few more years in the cellar. I can’t wait to see how this evolves.

As with the Sangiovese, Bryan’s forays into Nebbiolo are not about making Australian Barolo. Ravensworth Nebbiolo, sourced from fruit from Hilltops, is plusher and richer fruited than it’s Piedmontese cousins. However, Nebbiolo’s trademark florals and firm tannins are still in play here and deliver a wonderful wine that Bryan ambitiously suggest we should pair with slow cooked wild hare. As an aside you should always take on Bryan’s food pairing notes, he is a well versed gourmand with a cookbook publication under his belt.

I was going to stick just with the reds for this offer but the 2019 Grainery is just too good not to include. Many an Australian winemaker has tried and failed to wrangle the unwieldy Rhone trio of viognier, marsanne and rousanne but here Bryan has created a beautiful wine that marries the three into a perfumed, textural delight. He reached into Poppinsesque bag of winemaking chops for this one too, using whole bunch pressed and free run juice, oak and ceramic egg, lees work and a dash of skin contact. You might expect with all this going on the wine might feel forced and contrived but instead it feels singular and pure.

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