Bob and Julie Heslop bought 50 acres of land in the heart of the premium winegrowing region in Mudgee in 1984; the soils are a mixture of red clays and ancient alluvials, which are high in minerals and elements. They began to plant a very small number of vines, Bob after working in the MacLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley wanted to start growing his own wine. He laid out an area that was the ideal spot on the property to become his vineyard; he then went through the catalogue of available grape vines for sale. Liam Heslop sums it up nicely, “My Dad went through the nursery catalogue and chose things that he like the sound of; ‘Touriga Nacional I like Port let’s get some of that. Cabernet, I like Cabernet let’s get some of that. Zinfandel I don’t know what that is but sounds nice let get some…’ and that’s how he selected the varieties for his vineyard.”
All of Bob and Julie’s vines are over 30 years old making them perfect for making quality wine, I was in fact, talking to Bob about his Tinta Cao and Touriga Nacional vines last vintage and he mentioned that they are only really getting good now at 30 years old, which is incredible.
Touriga Nacional is a Portuguese grape planted widely over Portugal and Spain, with some also in California and increasingly Australia, but it is most at home in the Douro Valley which famously makes Port. Touriga is a tough vine, and it naturally has quite low yields making for concentrated fruit. The grape bunches are small, with small, thick-skinned black berries that ripen mid to late in the season, it is quite well suited to the Mudgee climate and soils.
Touriga always has a Port-like quality, that is partly because all Port contains some Touriga, but even when it is fermented into dry table wine, it has that lovely spicy, plummy character. This wine is very generous with plummy fruits, spice, dark cherries and Christmas cake complexity, it is a big-bodied wine with quite firm tannins and will repay with careful cellaring up to 15 years or enjoy with a grass-fed steak.