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By Farr, Farrside Geelong Chardonnay 2020
The By Farr, GC Chardonnay wine has an amazing smoothness and calmness that stretches the length of the palate, surrounded with textured fruit and mineral elements. Winemaker Gary Farr has been playing with the fruit from these vineyards for more than 8 years, fine tuning the style of wine that these vineyards are producing. The result is great!
Vineyards: The fruit for this GC (short for Gary Charles, or Geelong Chardonnay, if you will) is sourced from the Cote Vineyard. A close planted / high density planting of Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir) on a exposed cote or slope. These hillsides facing North and East are the backbone of the Farr dynasty for decades to come. They consist of the most suitable clones, rootstocks, trellising and management you will find for our landscape.
The North cote is a red to brown loam with buckshot stones across the surface. The most exposed of the three cotes, it is harvested last of all because of the large amount of clay, holding valuable moisture for a longer time than the other slopes.
The East cote is divided through the centre of the slope by a rise. Black volcanic soil with fragmented limestone in one direction and grey loam with buckshot stones in the other direction. Soil is King as the East cote has the least amount of clay and therefore water holding capacity resulting in it being harvested first, even though it is the coolest cote of the three.
Winemaking: The fruit was hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed in the winery. The juice was chilled before being put into French oak barrels, of which 35 percent were new. Natural fermentation occurred at cool temperatures over the next four to eight weeks, with a small amount of stirring to encourage malolactic conversion. The wine was racked, fined and lightly filtered before bottling 11 months after picking.
The Farr estate is located in the Moorabool Valley 100km southwest of Melbourne. Grape growing in this region dates back more than 200 years, with Swiss settlers planting Victoria’s first vineyards here in the early 1800s. The rich volcanic soil and continental climate at our estate produces premium fruit with a flavour, bouquet and colour that is unique to our surrounding area.
Gary and Robyn Farr purchased the original property in 1994 and the second section in 1998. The final piece of the puzzle, which links the two blocks of land, was purchased by Nick and Cassie Farr in 2011, making a total of 130 acres—of which 36 acres are under vine and the remainder is maintained as grazing and cropping for cattle and horses. With a mixture of different clones and rootstocks, the grape varieties grown here are viognier, chardonnay, pinot noir, gamay and shiraz.
Nick and Gary Farr stand side by side, but aren’t afraid to go head-to-head when their opinions differ. Each generation has developed a distinctive winemaking style based on his individual experience and taste, and their respective lines—By Farr by Gary, and Farr Rising by Nick—have received critical acclaim both in Australia and overseas.
While the landscape has undergone many changes in the past decades, Gary’s approach to wine has not and it is his fastidious attention to detail that has inspired a whole generation of vignerons. His experience as a hands-on winemaker was shaped by time spent at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy, Cristom in Oregon and Calera in California. Gary developed an appreciation for the beauty of shiraz and viognier from his many journeys to France’s Rhone Valley, where he also learned techniques for incorporating these wonderful varieties into his winemaking. He continues to make pilgrimages to Domaine Dujac, as he has done for the past two decades, to learn more about the craft of growing and making wine that is a true expression of site.
The reins may have been handed over to the next generation, but Gary, who produced what legendary wine connoisseur Len Evans called “Australia’s best pinot”, still keeps a watchful eye over proceedings to ensure the wine continues to meet his high standards.
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