Snake + Herring

The search has begun

Snake and Herring is a wine obsessed road trip searching for remarkable grapes from Western Australian vineyards.

  • Snake and Herring

    Safari Series

    Join us on a 'taste safari' with our remarkable range of West Australian wines.
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  • Snake and Herring

    The Search Series

    The search is over for our flagship range sourced from Western Australia's finest vineyards.
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  • Snake and Herring

    The Distance

    Outstanding parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon uniquely crafted to go the distance.
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Snake and Herring Philosophy, The Winemaker and About Us

Soul Searching

The Snake + Herring brand is a wine safari searching for remarkable grapes from West Australian Vineyards.

The Search has begun, and our grape balloon manned by Snake (our winemaker) and Herring (our navigator) represent this.

It’s simple, it only takes time.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"

Marcel Proust
French novelist (1871 - 1922)

The southwest of WA is a viticultural treasure map as there are vineyard jewels scattered throughout. We seek for blocks within vineyards that really shine; they may seem dull when diluted by the bordering lesser dirt.

The search is to find and polish these often overlooked gems and present a treasure chest of different jewels: pristine, crystalline Rieslings; crisp, radiant, multi-faceted Chardonnays; alluring, perfumed Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon; dark, exotic, hedonistic Shiraz; brilliant, regal displays of Cabernets and blends.

Conventional thinking leads us to searching in established areas from well known vineyards. Experience has also told us there can be blazing diamonds from less conventional combinations of region, sub region and variety. This latter category adds further intrigue and anticipation; that which is hardest to find mat be the most satisfying.

Snake + Herring will endeavour to source the finest parcels of fruit from quality vineyards and dedicated people without regional restraint. The story of winegrape growing in Western Australia is relatively short with many chapters still to be written. We hope to humbly add a few lines of our own; to bring some new eyes to old vineyards and thinking, seeking styles and regions perhaps overshadowed in the past and indulging ourselves in the overuse of semi-colons.

After studying in Adelaide for Science and Engineering, a fine career in gold mining beckoned. Fortunately for the gold industry, I fell out of love with six-week-on, one-week-off rotations in the middle of the Tanami Desert. After a couple of years travelling I had a “road to Damascus” experience in Margaret River, Western Australia. I decided to pursue the dream to become a winemaker and began the journey at famed Roseworthy Campus, University of Adelaide.

Several vintages followed in the Eden Valley (SA), Oregon (USA), Beaujolais (Fr) and Tasmania before landing my formative role at Plantagenet Wines in Mount Barker, WA. Working with Gavin Berry we made many award winning wines for contract clients as well as Plantagenet.

Three vintages later I moved for love with Sally, my partner, based in Northeast Victoria. I worked in Brown Brothers Kindergarten winery where all their premium, small batch and alternative varietal work took place.

Next stop on the journey was the Barossa Valley as a Senior Winemaker for Yalumba in Angaston. A family owned company with a long history, great culture and lofty ambition. I was responsible for sparkling wines, Victoria and Tasmania, where my main focus was the Jansz sparkling house.

A great opportunity to return to Western Australia was offered in the form of a brand new venture in the Perth Hills at Millbrook Winery, part of the Fogarty Wine Group. Building a new winery, brand and range of wines was a great experience and a 6 year project.

The move to Margaret River has completed the cycle but not the journey. Howard Park Wines were looking for a Chief Winemaker and it was another opportunity to learn more about the various regions of WA. After 4 years of making the best wines of my career it was time to consider my next step.

A herring came swimming past...

Safari Labels

The Safari Range of wines are designed to explain the spirit and soul of the brand.

As a youngster, Redmond “Herring” Sweeny was fortunate enough to live and grow up in the Kimberley’s region of Western Australia. This forms the reason for putting the Bungle Bungles in the landscape. Redmond’s father built roads for the Main roads department out of Derby. Camping in the bush was a huge part of the culture and growing up in the Kimberley’s.

The homestead is symbolic of Tony’s heritage. Born in Adelaide to a family based in Western NSW, he was the last generation to see the historic sheep station Koralta to the West of Broken Hill. The homestead symbolizes the buildings of the region up to the red soiled “corner country” typified by saltbush, spinifex and Sturt’s Desert Pea.

Snake (Tony Davis – Winemaker + Navigator)

Many misspent weekends during university started with a brisk run in a touch football team. After a couple of months the side step and wriggle through opposition defences had developed sufficiently to impress my teammates (low standards obviously) who coined the moniker “Snake”. It stuck through the rest of my studies and touch footy season culminating in a hard won premiership (King Snake) and a knee reconstruction (Broken Snake).

Herring (Redmond Sweeny – Wine Purveyor + Navigator)

One of the best experiences at University is the winter break. It was four weeks. Like most busted ass uni students we did what was required to rustled up a dime. I chose to sit on a tractor for two weeks solid sowing a wheat crop in the cold depths of the Great Southern of Western Australia.

The next two weeks with cash in the pocket was the much awaited surf safari to the North West of Western Austarlia. On the first safari north with uni friends: Yoda, Croater and Happo, my camping gear failed. Alas, the Red Herring was born. The name Herring stuck.

Treasure Map

A true pirate never discloses the source of his treasure but we just can’t keep it to ourselves any longer. Below is a map of Western Australia and the fine grape growing regions that make it so precious. Rollover the map to find out more.

Great Southern: Mt Barker and Porongurup

Varieties

Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Characteristics

The Great Southern is Western Australia's coolest wine-growing region and boasts warm days and cool nights that are beneficial for premium wine-grape growing. The region’s relatively low 600-750mm per annum rainfall average helps promote more intense fruit flavours.

Soil types vary from gravelly sandy loams with good drainage (Mt Barker and Frankland) to granite and gneissic sandy loams (Porongurup), to the highly fertile rich karri loams (Denmark). Fertility and typical yields are moderate to low in most areas, encouraging excellent fruit intensity.

The five subregions exhibit complex variations in rainfall, continentality and geology but overall it is a rich tapestry for Snake and Herring to Search; we are concentrating on the Mt Barker and Porongurup subregions as we have always been seduced by crisp pristine Riesling, fine citrus Chardonnay, spicy succulent Shiraz and classical berry Cabernet Sauvignon of fine layered structures.

Mount Barker wine growing region

Margaret River: Yallingup, Wilyabrup and Karridale

Varieties

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot.

Characteristics

Since the first significant planting of vines in 1967, the Margaret River wine region has grown to become regarded as potentially one of the great wine-producing regions of the world.

The region comprises the rolling hills of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. To the west, the Indian Ocean provides a dramatic boundary of cliffs, world-renowned surf and some of Australia’s most pristine beaches.

It is a wine region of varied growing conditions suited to a range of varieties in different sites: we like Yallingup (warmer, drier) for Cabernet Sauvignon and blenders, Wilyabrup for red varieties and Semillon and Karridale (cooler, wetter) for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon. There are some exceptions to this which keep challenging our Search for the unique vineyards. This is why we’re here.

Margaret River wine growing region

Pemberton

Varieties

Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

Characteristics

The small Pemberton Wine Region was first recommended by John Gladstones as a potential wine grape area in 1977 and has already established a reputation for being one the most exciting emerging wine regions.

Surrounding Pemberton and Northcliffe, the region is home to many picturesque vineyards that adjoin karri forests. Most of the vineyards of the Pemberton Wine Region lie between the Donnelly River and the Warren River that flows through the region's middle. The region is frequently referred to as "Karri Country" after the beautiful Karri forests. The soil supporting the region is karri loam a rich, red, fertile soil.

It combines southern latitude with high altitude 100 t0 200 metres above sea level and has a relatively cool climate and higher humidity. We think this makes it ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for both table wine and sparkling styles and other white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with some sites able to ripen elegant fine red styles.

Pemberton wine growing region

Explore The Wines

2014 ‘Wide Open Road’ Pinot Noir

Varieties

100% Pinot Noir

Region

Mount Barker and Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

Pinot Noir is dead sexy. Enigmatic, because it requires the right vineyard sites in cooler regions and is unforgiving of sloppy viticulture. Inspiring, because it does not conform to formulaic winemaking but requires imagination as much as experience. Frustrating, as the slightest mistake can have disastrous consequences. When everything comes together the resultant wines are seductive, addictive and memorable.

The Great Southern has some fantastic sites for Pinot Noir. We have chosen 2 sites for the Wide Open Road. The Mount Barker site is the younger and is planted to the 115 clone of Burgundian heritage and highly regarded. The older site is in the Porongurups and was planted in 1994. Yields in 2013 averaged 2.5T/ha.

All the fruit was handpicked and chilled before crushing. We used up to 20% whole bunches in various small fermenters, some wild ferments and plunging 3/day during the first part of fermentation. When nearly dry, a selection of German, French and Belgian backpackers used their feet to crush the whole bunches and extend the ferment. Aging in 500L puncheon for 6 months has added complexity and length.

The 2013 Wide Open Road Pinot Noir is an early release style of Pinot Noir owing as much to Cru Beaujolais as to Mercurey. Lifted cherry, raspberry and floral fruit has bonbon lift a cherry stone mouthfeel. The fresh fruit driven palate has bright raspberry, stalky rhubarb and fruit pip chewiness. The oak is subtle and the tannins are grippy in the way a 5yo holds its favourite toy. Fun summer drinking with heart and soul. It must be Great Southern.

Video 2012 ‘Wide Open Road’ Tasting Note

2013 ‘Dirty Boots’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Varieties

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot

Region

Yallingup, Wilyabrup and Karridale, Margaret River, WA

Cabernet Sauvignon is king of the Margaret River region. It wears many guises from the tip of Cape Naturaliste in the northern sub-region of Yallingup, to Augusta at the southern tip of the Karridale region. The warmer areas produce richer more generous wines with black fruits and bigger tannin structures; the cooler areas are finer, more delicate with lifted red fruit, floral aromatics and medium bodied structures. Of course this generalized characterization of MR Cabernet Sauvignon can be radically skewed by warmer or cooler growing seasons…ahhh, the joys of viticulture.

Four blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon were selected for this blend: two from Yallingup and two from Wilyabrup and two blocks from the deep dark south of Karridale. The Yallingup Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards have provided the earthy, chocolate, blackberry notes with fleshy texture; the Wilyabrup components contribute ripe blackcurrant and violet aromatics with dense and rich filigreed long tannins. This is the first Dirty Boots with significant Karridale Cabernet Sauvignon, which is an indication of how long the ripening season was in 2013. Together, they make 2013 Dirty Boots is a balanced, approachable and classy Cabernet Sauvignon with well integrated cedary oak.

Video 2011 Dirty Boots Tasting Note 2010 Dirty Boots Tasting Note

2014 ‘Tough Love’ Margaret River and Porongurup Chardonnay

Varieties

100% Chardonnay

Region

58% Karridale, Margaret River and 42% Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

Hand picked and whole bunch pressed; full solids and wild ferments; 56% tank fermented, 44% barrel ferment in new (16%) and used (28%) puncheons; aged on lees for 12 months in tank and barrel.

Chardonnay is the pinnacle of white wines in Margaret River and we love the Karridale region for its line and finesse. It is also a rather unheralded hero in the Porongurup sub region of the Great Southern, the coolest region in WA. There were two outstanding vineyards used for this wine, one in each region.

Yields are usually low at under 4t/ha and we tend to pick with an eye on acid, making sure we get ripe fruit but balanced acid and long fine structures. The 2014 vintage was an outstanding chardonnay season growing fruit with finesse, fine acidity and classy length. The Karridale component from Margaret River has a citrus and honeydew melon spectrum with a long acid backbone. The Porongorup component is fine delicate and near Riesling-like with a crystalline focus and purity. Line and length in this wine is paramount.

The ferments start naturally in unclarified juices, which builds flesh, texture and complexity when matched with outstanding quality chardonnay fruit. The 2014 vintage has delivered a Tough Love chardonnay with its classic line and length displaying lime, grapefruit and melon, funky solids complexity of hazelnuts and almonds in the midpalate and subtle oak adding creaminess and toast. This is our best Tough Love yet.

Video 2011 ‘Tough Love’ Karridale Chardonnay 2013 ‘Tough Love’ Karridale Chardonnay

2014 ‘Perfect Day’ Sauvignon Blanc + Semillon

Varieties

83% Karridale Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Karridale Semillon

Region

100% Karridale, Margaret River, WA

Handpicked and whole bunch pressed; 64% tank fermented with full solids, 36% barrel ferment with wild yeast; aged on lees for 10 months.
The Karridale subregion is home to the finest Sauvignon Blanc grapes in Margaret River. Crisp higher natural acids; aromatic citrus fruit profiles; extended slower ripening and more fruit intensity: what’s not to like?

Semillon has always colluded with Savvy. Our choice of Karridale Semillon is due to its lemon pith midpalate and racy mineral acidity that complements and extends the punchy Sauvignon profile.

The 2014 Perfect Day continues the evolution of the blend: more barrel fermentation, time on lees and wild yeast.

A cooler start to the 2014 season held our picking until the first week of March when the balance between fruit power and natural acid was at its peak. Both parcels were whole bunch pressed with full solids; the Semillon to older oak for 100% barrel treatment, the Sauvignon Blanc to both tank and barrel (19%). The 2014 Perfect Day has fantastic aromatics reflecting the punchy Sauvignon nettles and guava, Semillon lemons and lees-driven roasted nuts. The palate is tight, refreshing and clean but has layered lime brulee texture and a long lean finish. Bone dry but fruit rich. The best we have done. Yet.

Video 2012 Perfect Day Tasting Note 2011 Perfect Day Tasting Note 2013 ‘Perfect Day’ Sauvignon Blanc + Semillon

2012 ‘Redemption’ Shiraz

Varieties

100% Shiraz

Region

Mt Barker and Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

Shiraz is the red icon of the uber-cool Great Southern with different interpretations from, and within, the five sub-regions of Mount Barker, Porongurup, Frankland, Albany and Denmark. We like the subregions of Mount Barker and Porongurup for our Redemption Shiraz: Mount Barker has classic spicy, Szechuan pepper, Satsuma and mulberry; Porongurup has lifted florals and raspberry notes with elegance and length.

There are 2 blocks of Shiraz from Mount Barker; one west (ridgetop, gravel) and one south (north face, gravel and granite) of the township. The third vineyard is from the eastern edge of the Porongurup range with an east facing slope and a mix of laterites and granitic sands. Enough geology.

Dark plum in colour with a hint of purple youthfulness, the 2012 Redemption Shiraz has super lifted Satsuma, spice, plum skin and raspberry aromas with a hint of underlying earth and licorice. This is an eminently fruit driven style, very high on the slurpability index, with fresh red fruits, a floral call and an earthy answer. Whole bunches in the ferments have added spice elements, an elegant tannin thread through the finish to keep the line and add length. Aged in older puncheons there is subtle oak influence but Redemption Shiraz is a modern take on the classic Shiraz of the Great Southern.

2014 'Vamos' Tempranillo

Varieties

95% Tempranillo, 5% Grenache

Region

51% Frankland, Great Southern; 49% Margaret River

The Vamos is a wine of three parts that mesh into a seamless expression of primary Tempranillo.

The Frankland vineyard grows Tempranillo of great depth and structure. The untrellised bush vines grow low to the gravel and involve excruciating hours of pruning, training thinning and plucking each year. Our Grenache is an outstanding parcel, also on bushvine, that provides extra flesh and weight to the Tempranillo.

The Margaret River vineyard is on Johnson Road in the expanding Wilyabrup sub-region. Low yielding vines and well exposed bunches have added lifted aromatics and a glossy red fruit spectrum to the Vamos.

The 2014 is our first release of Vamos Tempranillo. The Frankland components really anchor the structure and weight of the wine with fine grained tannins, black fruits and earthy complexity. The Margaret River component adds lifted floral, maraschino cherry and red fruit aromatics with a side of silky tannin. Six months maturation in older 500L puncheons has allowed the components to integrate without compromising the essential fruit drive of the wine. Recommended with Eduardo’s Brazilian BBQ: great chunks of skewered meat roasted over hot coals.

2014 ‘High and Dry’ Porongurup Riesling

Varieties

100% Porongurup Riesling

Region

Single Vineyard, Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

Hand picked and whole cluster pressed; free run juice only; neutral yeast; no acid added.

Riesling is purity and heartbreak in a glass. There is no truer expression of soil, aspect and climate but at the same time this late ripening prima donna is not forgiving of lesser sites or management. The Porongurup range is one of the sub-regions of the Great Southern region in WA and home to many mature dry grown Riesling vineyards. Typically the Riesling is later ripening and a little finer with higher acidity from the Porongurups; there is a rain shadow on the north facing slopes that allows for the later ripening on these more elevated sites (High and Dry). We have sourced the High and Dry Riesling from a vineyard with 20 year old Riesling vines.

Two individual blocks were handpicked separately and whole bunch pressed to a meagre 470 l/T. This resulted in lightly cloudy free run juices with very little phenolics. A neutral yeast was selected to ferment clean and the wine was left on lees for 6 weeks before racking.

The 2014 season has produced stunning Riesling fruit with finely poised acidity and powerful long finishes. The High and Dry 2014 shows us the classic lime line: juice skin and pith. There’s a talc minerality underlying the citrus, a taut highwire of tension that guides the line of this wine. Fruit on the palate is focused and pure, with power, length and succulence. The keen acid on the palate doesn’t overcome or define. Balance. Length. Florals on finish add to the allure.

Video 2012 High + Dry Tasting Note 2011 High + Dry Tasting Note

2014 ‘Teardrop’ Mt Barker Riesling

Varieties

100% Mt Barker Riesling

Region

Single Vineyard, Mt Barker, Great Southern, WA

Hand picked and whole cluster pressed; free run juice only; neutral and natural yeast.

Riesling is purity and heartbreak in a glass. There is no truer expression of soil, aspect and climate but at the same time this late ripening prima donna is not forgiving of lesser sites or management. Mount Barker is one of the sub-regions of the Great Southern region in WA and home to many mature dry grown Riesling vineyards. We have sourced the Teardrop Riesling from a vineyard with 25 year old Riesling vines.

The pristine fruit is pressed immediately and the free run component up to 300-400L/T with the delicate citrus and floral aromatics is pressed to tank and clarified. The next 100L/T is pressed direct to large old oak and allowed to ferment naturally with full solids. This gives richness and texture to the Teardrop Riesling without compromising delicacy. The balance is pressings which are sold to other producers….

The 2014 Teardrop grew in a season that is a great Riesling year. Brisk and ample natural acids have complemented the fruit power. Trademarked flavours from Mount Barker are on display here: powerful white floral (jasmine, honeysuckle) and lime/lemon punch fill the front and midpalate before focusing in the end on a long crunchy finish which will develop into marmalade characters on aging.

Video 2012 Teardrop Tasting Note 2011 Teardrop Tasting Note

2013 ‘Corduroy’ Single Vineyard Karridale Chardonnay

Varieties

5 Clones of Chardonnay

Region

Single Vineyard, Karridale, Margaret River

Chardonnay is the pinnacle of white wines in Margaret River and we love the finesse and natural acidity in chardonnay from the Karridale sub-region. Higher rainfall and humidity means there is less moisture stress down here. Cooler days and nights preserve natural acidity and finer, more complex fruit flavours.

This vineyard has an excellent track record with chardonnay and we have been working with the owners since 2003. There is an obsessive attention to detail that delivers pristine hand picked fruit perfect for whole bunch pressing. After chilling in a cold room overnight we press the whole clusters of chardonnay direct to barrel: no clarifying, no acid added, no yeast. The natural ferment kicks off as the juice warms. The oak is 500L French oak puncheons (50% new) for excellent oak integration, respect of the fruit and a cool look. After 10 months on full lees in oak the wine is bottled.

The 2013 Corduroy Chardonnay is our second Single Vineyard Chardonnay form Karridale and shows the class and fruit power we have come to expect from this excellent vineyard. A complex nose: Sal says melons, and I reckon some grapefruit, yet there’s so much more happening. Roast almond, struck match, bacon fat, layered and evolving…a wine to serve well chilled and savour as it warms in the glass. Textural and rich but with great acid balance, a seamless wine with the incredible length only great vineyards deliver. Two shows entered, two gold medals. Boom.

2013 ‘Hallelujah’ Porongurup Chardonnay

Varieties

100% Porongurup Chardonnay

Region

Single Vineyard, Porongurup, Great Southern

The Porongurup sub-region of the Great Southern has long been the home of delicate, fine and mineral chardonnay, often overlooked in the search for the fantastic Riesling, the hero of the Porongurups. Over the years of making Chardonnay from the Porongurups we have been convinced that the quality and style expressed from these vineyards is second to none in the state.

This comes down to the soils and meso-climate of the region. Geologically ancient and diverse, the complexity of gneiss, quartz and feldspar volcanic minerals is interspersed with the more widely spread lateritic “ironstone” gravels and ancient seabed sands mixed with shallow brown and grey loams. Approximately 50km north of the Southern Coast, there is a discernable continentality in the region with colder nights and warmer days, but still quite dry due to rain shadow of the Porongurup Range itself.

The vineyard we have chosen (or has it chosen us…spooky) is a wonderful mix of beautiful dirts (mmmmm…), vine age (20 years old) and experienced management. Owned and worked by those who micro-manage the vines, not one leaf, cane or berry is out of place or substandard. Low cropping (2-4t/ha) really allows the terrior to shine.

Handpicked and whole bunch pressed direct to French puncheons (500L oak), the whole juice was wild fermented and stayed on lees, without sulphur, for ten months. Malo-lactic fermentation is neither encouraged nor resisted. The 2013 Hallelujah Chardonnay is a superb addition to the line of excellent wine made from this block. This is a fresh lime brulee tart in a glass: lime citrus fruit with a little grapefruit, a touch of caramel and smokiness from the puncheons and a terrific pastry creaminess from the lees contact and wild ferment. The class of the fruit again shows through with the length and fine minerality poised with typical Porongurup crystalline acidity.

2011 ‘Business Time’ Mount Barker Shiraz

Varieties

100% Shiraz

Region

Mount Barker, Great Southern, WA

We love Shiraz, really, we do. And the Mount Barker region is synonymous with elegant spicy structured and supple versions of this rustic but much loved variety. We have chosen a site to the south of Mt Barker with a well drained north-facing slope of gravelly loam soils and low vigour.

The Shiraz was de-stemmed into open top fermenters and cold soaked for 3 days. Yeast was added and the ferments hand plunged 2-3/day, left on skins for 24 days post ferment and pressed. The resultant wine was aged for 17 months in French oak puncheons, 38% new. No backpackers were used in the making this wine.

The 2011 Business Time is dark and opaque with a bright purple rim indicating its bright youthfulness. This wine just keeps evolving with air: raspberry, red plum, smoked meats, anise and a whiff of oyster shell. A rich mid palate has sweet red fruit corralled by a fine grained tannin and a savoury ferrous texture.

2013 ‘The Hard Road’ Pinot Noir

Varieties

100% Pinot Noir

Region

Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

Pinot Noir is dead sexy. Enigmatic, because it requires the right vineyard sites in cooler regions and is unforgiving of sloppy viticulture. Inspiring, because it does not conform to formulaic winemaking but requires imagination as much as experience. Frustrating as the slightest mistake can have disastrous consequences. When everything comes together the resultant wines are seductive, addictive and memorable.

We went to the Porongurup for our single vineyard Pinot Noir, The Hard Road. The complex and intriguing soil of this vineyard, matched with yields around 3t/Ha provide fruit of rare intensity and length. The fussy, near obsessive, viticulture brings the terroir to the fore and the complex soil structures seem to shine through for this little black duck (mmmmm...duck)

All the fruit was handpicked and chilled before crushing. We used up to 20% whole bunches in various small fermenters, some wild ferments and plunging 3/day during the first part of fermentation. An extra three weeks of further maceration on skins after the ferment adds structure and midpalate. Aging in 500L puncheons (1/3rd new) for 12 months has added complexity and length.

The 2012 The Hard Road shows great darkness and intensity, a bit like Nick Cave recast as a wine. Beautiful seductive aromatics show cherry, floral and meaty characters with some vegetative complexity. The palate is powerful with some firm yet fine tannin balancing the opulent fruit. The long lingering finish shows fruit of optimum ripeness and intensity. Great to wash down Peking Duck or Cassoulet.

2013 ‘Calypso’ Cabernet Franc + Merlot

Varieties

46% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec

Region

Margaret River

Cabernet Franc and Merlot are often maligned from Margaret River as not being quite as good, nor as consistent as Cabernet Sauvignon. Both stars in their home of Bordeaux neither seem to have travelled as well as the stunning Cabernet Sauvignon. Genetics, rootstocks, viruses, poor site selection; these have all played a part in the lesser performance, perceived and actual, of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. However there are sites where the stars do align and grapes of great intensity and complexity are grown. We were seduced by the possibilities of this blend.

The Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon come from a single vineyard with a superb northern aspect on top of a ridge of lateritic gravelly loam on granite and limestone outcrops. The vineyard is mature (30+ years old) and yield less than 5t/ha. This year we sourced Malbec from a nearby site planted with narrow spacings on a northern aspect.

De-stemmed into open top fermenters each variety is fermented separately (half “wild”) and hand-plunged until dryness. All ferments are then left on skins up to 4 weeks to build and soften the mouthfeel of the tannins. Maturation is in 34% new French oak 225L barriques and 66% one year old 500L puncheons. We love puncheons because they’re big and heavy and stuff, and they look cool.

The 2013 Calypso is a fine addition the extensive back catalogue of Snake and Herring wines. The Cabernets lift the nose with raspberry, blackberry and maraschino cherry fruits with hints of chocolate, flowers, mint and cedar. This midpalate is the star: rich, plush and complex, layers of ripe blackberries, plums raspberries and earthiness. The structure is creamy, layered and finishes with long filigreed tannins.

Video 2010 Calypso Tasting Note 2012 Calypso Tasting Note

2013 ‘Cannonball’ Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot + Petit Verdot

Varieties

64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec

Region

Margaret River, WA

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are often blended all around the world of wine. Petit Verdot is a near forgotten cog, a variety of such surreal potency that only a few percent in a blend ultimately change the style. We like it.

The blend is from 3 vineyards in the north of the Margaret River region each having over 20 years vine age. Each individual wine was impressive and showed the extraordinary quality of the 2013 vintage, but the blend had something extra. The 2013 vintage showed excellent tannin ripeness with moderate crops so that fruit flavours had great intensity. We didn’t see overripe or “dead” fruit.

Fermented in open vessels with handplunging, each wine is left on skins post ferment for up to 4 weeks. Approximately 40% was wild ferment. Maturation was in 50% new oak, both barriques and puncheons, all French.

The 2013 Cannonball is a big bastard, opaque and brooding. Initial briary aromas of ripe berries and forest floor give way to more floral, herbal, spice and bitter chocolate aromas. A bright mid palate of fruit and florals, dried herbs and damp earth is supported by ample structure, powdery layered texture and long fine tannins.

Video 2010 Cannonball Tasting Note 2011 Cannonball Tasting Note

2011 ‘Black Betty’ Single Vineyard Yallingup Cabernet

Varieties

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region

Yallingup, Margaret River, WA

The Distance is a concept: unique parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon from outstanding sites studded around the Southwest of Western Australia. Why? Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably the iconic grape of WA and excels in many regions, sub-regions and individual sites. We have admired the Cabernet produced from several of these sites and wanted to investigate this diversity.

We have a set of parameters for The Distance project:
The site must grow Cabernet Sauvignon of the highest quality in that region.
The Cabernet will be made to emphasise the regional and subregional differences without compromising quality.
Cabernet Sauvignon must form the majority of any blend.
Other varieties used for blending but must come from the same site.
The 2011 Black Betty Cabernet Sauvignon is from an older vineyard, planted in the 80’s, on the ridges above Geographe Bay. An east to northeast slope with rows planted along the north-south grid, the cabernet is on an old lyre trellis providing excellent fruit exposure during ripening. The Cabernet Sauvignon is handpicked and destemmed to 1.5T open fermenters. Fermentation takes approximately 2 weeks but the wine was left on skins until the cap fell totalling 35 days skin contact overall. This adds a layered and supple texture to the mouthfeel of the tannins. Maturation was 17 months in a mix of 225L and 300L barrels with 45% new oak. This wine was bottled without filtration.

Picking dates 9th and 17th March 2011.
Analysis at picking: 13.3Be, pH 3.65, TA 5.3g/L.

The 2011 Black Betty Yallingup Cabernet Sauvignon is an attractive medium-dark red with purple rim. The nose is seductive and nearly delicate: blackcurrant, blackberry, forest floor, dried herbs, black olive and subtle smoky oak all emerge with time in the glass. A rich plump deeply textured palate with ultra-fine tannins again shows typical Yallingup power and purity. The fleshy Cabernet midpalate is a feature of this site which dovetails into a graceful and powerful finish featuring refined powdery layered tannins. A Cabernet that keeps growing and another keeper…

2011 ‘Higher Ground’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Varieties

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region

Porongurup, Great Southern, WA

The Distance is a concept: unique parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon from outstanding sites studded around the Southwest of Western Australia. Why? Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably the iconic grape of WA and excels in many regions, sub-regions and individual sites. We have admired the Cabernet produced from several of these sites and wanted to investigate this diversity.

We have a set of parameters for The Distance project:
The site must grow Cabernet Sauvignon of the highest quality in that region.
The Cabernet will be made to emphasise the regional and subregional differences without compromising quality.
Cabernet Sauvignon must form the majority of any blend.
Other varieties used for blending but must come from the same site.
The Porongurup Cabernet Sauvignon come from a site on the eastern edge of the Porongurup Ranges. The soils here are complex, a combination of granitic sands, laterite gravels and granite/gniess boulders. The ancient ranges were probably islands when the ocean shoreline was further north and we have avoided the old sea bed soils. Planted in 1994, the facing of the Cabernet is east on a gentle slope and the trellising is a conventional VSP. The Merlot is the same age and structure and comes from the block next to the Cabernet.

The 2 parcels were handpicked and destemmed to 1 tonne open fermenters. A mixture of wild and inoculated ferments were hand plunged 2-3/day and left on skins post-ferment to build mouthfeel and supple tannins. Maturation was for 19 months in French hogsheads and barriques with 53% new.

Picking Dates and analysis at picking
Cabernet Sauvignon 31st March, 13.8Be, pH 3.60, TA 5.7
Merlot 17th March, 13.4Be, pH 3.35, TA 5.7

The 2011 Higher Ground Porongurup Cabernet Sauvignon is a striking wine; deep purple rim with an opaque heart, bright and youthful. Very focused and intense bright lifted silky fruit: blackberry, some raspberry, redcurrant with underlying leaf and riverstone. Great purity and distinction. Powerful intense red and black fruits; classy, polished and layered with that Cabernet purity again. The Merlot adds flesh to the ample finely knit chamois tannins which are ripe and richly layered. There is some smoky oak in support and the linear palate has fantastic length. A wine for aging.

Video

2012 'Gigantic' Cabernet Sauvignon

Varieties

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region

Karridale, Margaret River, WA

The Journey


Stephen Tanzers International Wine Cellar reviews Snake + Herring

Snake and Herring (By Josh Raynolds)


2012 Snake and Herring Hallelujah Chardonnay Great Southern – 90 points
($35) Bright straw. Ripe pear and melon scents are complemented by a smoky nuance and a hint of tarragon. Fleshy and dry on the palate, offering chewy orchard and citrus fruit flavors with a refreshingly bitter edge. Finishes with building spiciness and very good breadth and length, leaving a gingery note behind.

2011 Snake and Herring The Distance Black Betty Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River – 90 points
($45) Ruby-red. Cherry, blueberry and a touch of oak on the nose. Juicy, sweet and seamless, offering spice-tinged dark berry flavors that pick up a smoky element with aeration. Smoothly plays richness off vivacity and finishes with gentle tannins and very good length, leaving a suave floral note behind.

2011 Snake and Herring The Distance Higher Ground Cabernet Sauvignon Great Southern – 92 points
($60) Inky ruby. Intensely perfumed aromas of cherry compote, singed plum, violet, graphite and vanilla, along with a subtle espresso overtone. Ripe, nicely focused dark berry liqueur flavors firm up with air and pick up a sexy oak spice accent. Distinctly rich yet lively cabernet with excellent finishing power and grip and smooth, slow-building tannins.
2011 Snake and Herring Cannonball Cabernet Sauvigon/Merlot/Petit Verdot Margaret River – 91 points
($35) (a 49/46/5 blend): Inky ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented dark berries and cherry on the mineral-tinged nose, with a touch of licorice in the background. Spicy and precise, offering bitter cherry and cassis flavors that become sweeter with air. Shows excellent clarity and lift on the finish, which is firmed by tangy acidity and dusty tannins.

2012 Snake and Herring Dirty Boots Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River – 90 points
($30) Saturated ruby. Pungent redcurrant and cherry on the nose, with a smoky mineral quality adding lift and focus. Firm, vibrant bitter cherry and rose pastille flavors show very good concentration, with zesty acidity adding cut. Aeration brings out deeper dark chocolate and licorice notes, which linger on the persistent, gently tannic finish.

Sarah Ahmed – The Wine Detective

Snake & Herring: an exciting addition to the Western Australian wine scene

Redmond Sweeney (l), Tony Davis (r)
Redmond Sweeney (l), Tony Davis (r)

And here they are – a.k.a winemaker Tony Davis (Snake) and marketeer Redmond Sweeney (Herring).

I did (somewhat hesitatingly) ask why Snake and Herring?  There was an explanation, but I forget.  But more importantly, this is what the duo say their (speaking of snakes somewhat Monty Pythonesque) label is about – “Snake and Herring is a wine obsessed road trip searching for remarkable grapes from Western Australian vineyards.”  ”Fifteen wines and still going” says Sweeney.

While they’re clearly having fun, there’s no doubting the serious intent either, which Davis defines as, “taking a very scalpel approach to the vineyards and sourcing small parcels – a few rows even – for small volume wines.” And the previous incumbent at Howard Park ( where we first met in 2007) and before that Millbrook, is very well placed to hunt out top notch fruit.

As for the winemaking, the emphasis is on “drinkability – engaging wines to enjoy with food which keep changing the subject and bringing you back to the glass”enthuses Davis. “Not too expensive either.” Three cheers for that!

Here are my highlights from Snake & Herring, whose wines I was delighted at last to catch up with at the Savour Australia wine forum last month.

Snake & Herring High & Dry Riesling 2012 (Porongurups)

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The bone dry, searingly mineral and intense Rieslings from this elevated, rocky sub-region of Great Southern totally float my boat, especially with local, fresh-shucked Albany rock oysters. This wine, so-called because the rain shadow on the north facing slopes allows for the later ripening on the more elevated (High and Dry) sites, is no exception.  Lovely perfume, with sweet talc which follows through on a firm, taut, pithy palate with very well-focused limey, grapefruity acidity.  Very good.

Snake & Herring Hallelujah Chardonnay 2012 (Porongurups)

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From the same vineyard as the Chardonnay this confirms that the Porongurups is far from a one trick (Riesling) pony.  The Chardonnay is, however, from an east-facing parcel.  It’s very mineral – so far so Porongurups.  Apple and grapefruit flavours wash over the palate in a lovely unforced (by oak or acidity) very natural, balanced way.  And linger  – great limpidity and length to this.  Just lovely.  No additions here (acid/yeast).  Hallelujah indeed!  12.5% abv.

Snake & Herring Business Time Shiraz 2011 (Mount Barker)

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Bright (blackcurrant and berry) fruited with fine tannins, lingering, persistent acidity and a distinct whiff of gravel this is a very attractive mid-weight Shiraz.  It’s a touch meaty as it opens up.  Yep, drinkability sums it up very well.  Shiraz is, as we know a terrific performer right across the country.  No need for pushy parents, so it thrives at Snake & Herring. 13.5%

Snake & Herring The Distance Higher Ground Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Porongurups)

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And here, the Porogurups really did surprise me.  For reds it’s best known (by me at least!) for Pinot Noir.  But this Cabernet certainly puts the “p” into perfume with its heady blueberry and cassis fruit.  Having spent 51 days (yes 51 days!) on skins its uber-polymerised and supple, with an attractive, complexing balsamic note.  Long, very primary – a fresh-faced babe as yet.

Ray Jordan’s Wine Guide 2014

Ray Jordan Book Sept 2013

Top Drops in Sunday Times by David Prestipino

The Journey continues.

Sunday Times Prestipino 02262012.1

“Business Time” Shiraz 2011 – 95 pts Ray Jordan

The new release “Business Time” Shiraz 2011 is finally released and pleased Ray Jordan, giving it 95 points.

Ray Jordan Business Time Shiraz 2011 95 points

Ray Jordan Business Time Shiraz 2011 95 points

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