Swinney New Releases

***** Outstanding Winery, James Halliday, 2021 Australian Wine Companion

Swinney is flying. CAMPBELL MATTINSON, The Wine Front

The first results of [the] collaboration are fantastic: the grenache, in particular, tastes like no other Australian example of this variety and will change perceptions of the Frankland region… MAX ALLEN, AFR

A new name to reckon with. The Swinneys aren’t new to vines but the recently launched brand amazed us with its formidable quality HUON HOOKE

Validation is faith’s greatest reward, and right now Matt Swinney is up to his eyeballs in it. NICK RYAN, The Australian

 

Siblings Matt and Janelle Swinney have created something special from the gravelly, ironstone soils on their family’s remote Frankland River estate in WA. The Swinney’s have long been growers, supplying high quality fruit to a diverse range of producers from behemoths like Penfolds, to new wave artisan operations like Brave New Wine, but now as their latest offerings are released it’s quite clear that it’s their own wines we should be paying attention to.

While the Swinney’s sell substantial volumes of fruit from their estate, their own production is tiny, carefully selecting only the very best parcels of fruit for their own bottlings. The attention these vines get is meticulous to the point of obsession. They are mostly dry-farmed, low cropped and the canopy is managed with the type of attention to detail that would rival Mr Miyagi and his beloved Bonsai.

However, it’s not just stoic dedication that makes the suite of Swinney wines so impressive, it’s also paired with innovation and evolution. Over the past decade they have put together a team of some of WA finest including viticulturist Lee Haselgrove and winemaker Rob Mann, grandson of the legendary Jack Mann, and a highly respected talent in his own right having lead winemaking operations at a number of high profile wineries including Cape Mentelle. They were also the first in modern times to plant bush-vines in WA and to recognise the potential for grenache and mourvedre in a region where the consensus has long been that they are unsuited to the climate. It’s the culmination of decades of planning, patience and self-belief that have positioned the Swinney’s to become an overnight success story.

Now onto the wines! Let me start by saying there are no “also-ran” wines in the Swinney line-up, it is hit after sure-fire hit. It comes as no surprise that their Frankland River riesling is a knockout, after all they are just down the road from the legendary Frankland Estate. It’s carries that archetypal regional feel to it, floral and fine with a healthy whack of flinty acidity and just a wonderful tension and nerve running through it.

I love Great Southern syrah and Swinney’s latest is a sensational rendition, brimming with dark, ripe fruits which segue seamlessly into dried olive, Mediterranean herbs and earth before the arrival of a firm, but welcome, press of tannin, which feels like your grandad’s hand on your shoulder, welcome and reassuring. Superb.

The final two wines are for me are confounding. From a region where most wouldn’t even consider planting grenache and mourvedre, comes what are now two of the finest examples you are likely to find. The 2020 grenache is mid-weighted and magnificent. It’s got the freshness, energy and floral details lacking in so many of the more classically styled Aussie grenache of yesteryear, while at the same time delivering plush fruit, power and structure that are left behind in the early picked modern offerings. Grenache has been earmarked as Australia’s next greatest varietal for some time now, and Swinney have just slid into the leading pack.

Similarly Swinney’s MSG is singing, with all that leathery, cedar box spice that I love in great mourvedre, tamed into a surprisingly agile wine, with juicy, plush blue fruits wrapped up in powdery tannin and seasoned with healthy splash of graphite and mineral intrigue. The longer I sit with this, the more I like it.

As I mentioned before, Swinney are an overnight success story some twenty odd years in the making. The questions isn’t “if” but when these wines will become some of the most sought-after in Australia. Critics are already firmly on board, as you can see from Mike Bennie’s gushing reviews below, and I have bought a house on Swinney Island already and am putting in the pool now.