The latest wines by Farr and Farr Rising

It may have been tempting, if I was a very young subeditor, to play around with cute titles for this piece.

“Farr and away the best” “They‘ll go Farr.” “How Farr can they go” “The Farr Side”… Thanks Gary Larson. “It is a Farr Farr better thing …” Thanks Charles Dickens. Even channeling the sixties as in: “Farr out!”

Farr This Magnificent Life

Fortunately I am not your groovy young sub but a gnarled old wine writer so you won’t see any of that try-hard nonsense.

Thanks Gary and Nick

What we did see recently was a presentation by an Australian wine company approaching the peak of its powers. A lineup of wines not flashy or trendy or experimental, but showing a supremely confident and assured handling of four of our best known grape varieties. Adventurous and exciting yes, but firmly grounded in the classic tradition. Familiar aromas and flavours wonderfully managed and presented.

All this from a father and son team who each learned their craft in some of the world’s best wineries and now conjure flowing magic from their home soils and vines.

Farr This Magnificent Life
Nick Farr entertains the crowd with his masterful lineup

Making wine at Bannockburn in the Moorabool Valley north of Geelong since 1978, Gary Farr established his own brand By Farr in 1994. His experience in Burgundy and the Rhone Valley taught him to concentrate on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Viognier. Joined by his son Nick, who also did vintages in Burgundy, the Rhone, Oregon and California, their land now totals 130 acres of which 36 are under vines. Nick’s own brand is Farr Rising.

Farr This Magnificent Life
Nick’s new passion. The Irrewarra vineyard 100 km from his Bannockburn home

The wines are still made separately but there is obviously a lot of synergy between the two. Nick is now responsible for making both labels as Gary relaxes not too far in the background.

“Farming our land is not easy but we believe the best wines are born from the most challenging environments”

Their land has six different soil types, all with low fertility, each more suitable for different clones, different varieties. Rainfall is low, winds can be brutal. All in all the land and the climate make hard going for grape vines resulting in lower yields but a most attractive intensity of flavours.

Farr This Magnificent Life
Nick’s new passion. The Irrewarra vineyard 100 km from his Bannockburn home
Classic flavours beautifully presented. Here are the Whites.

The first is the Irrewarra Chardonnay 2017.

Farr This Magnificent Life
Here’s his chardonnay …

This is a newish project for Nick. From a vineyard he discovered an hour to the West near Colac, which was well planted and sited but sadly neglected. Nick took a lease on the plot and worked his magic getting the vines standing to attention again. This is a super white. A Goldilocks. Not too mean but not too full. Perfect balance of white fruits, lemons and limes. A tiny brush of salted nuts. Like a young Meursault really.

Irrewarra Pinot Noir 2016

The site is not as fully tamed as the home vineyards and this young fella shows a raw and raunchy nose, slightly sappy and smokey. Bold too on the palate. So much power and pungency. A serious pinot. Broad chested but still elegant. Nick uses very different winemaking techniques here to his Bannockburn home-base. A style worth following into the future.

By Farr Viognier 2017

Siddles up to you with honey and almond nuances. Full in the mouth, ripe and lovely but not heavy. Hints of orange juice. Its fine textures stay with you, fresh and persistent in a superb drink.

By Farr Chardonnay 2017

Farr This Magnificent Life
One of Australia loveliest chardonnays

Just as a good chardonnay should be. Classy nutty white fruit blossoming on the nose. A powerful mouthful dances brightly on the tongue. Not heavy but lively. Long and finely textured. GC Chardonnay by Farr 2016 Another step up. A tiny increase in all departments. More vigorous, more complexity. Fuller flavor of rich flowing fruit, still with a citrus underlay. A very fine mouthful. Huon Hooke in The Real Review recently gave it 97 points.

Irrewarra Pinot Noir 2016

Farr This Magnificent Life
and his pinot noir. SImple labels cover complex wines

The site is not as fully tamed as the home vineyards and this young fella shows a raw and raunchy nose, slightly sappy and smokey. Bold too on the palate. So much power and pungency. A serious pinot. Broad chested but still elegant. Nick uses very different winemaking techniques here to his Bannockburn home-base. A style worth following into the future.

Farrside by Farr Pinot Noir 2016

This is all class from well established vines and a very dedicated winemaker. A true floral red pleasure. Cherries and red berries with a forest floor underpinning. Joyful finish with a brush of crisp tannins bringing you back for more.

Sangreal by Farr Pinot Noir 2016

From the oldest vineyard planted in 1994. Different soils make themselves known from the Farrside vineyards just 300 metres away. A darker wine in character. More savoury, minerally and spicy. A sturdy mouthful of complex red/black fruits. Lingers as you smile.

By Farr Shiraz 2016

Experience in the Rhone Valley has told Nick to fold in just 4% of the white viognier. It does stimulate the red shiraz encouraging a luxurious lift in perfume. This is a serious wine almost a syrupy essence of red grapiness. A tangle of plush red florals with cherries, violets, plums and raspberries. A regal depth and length. A cellar full of these would make a red drinker happy for life.

Farr This Magnificent Life
And one of the most regal shiraz, thanks to a dash of viognier

If you really want to know how great Australian wine is shaping up these should be on your list to try. Not as rare or expensive as some of our exalted flagships but much more approachable and enjoyable right now.

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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