Massena: Barossa valley, South Australia
Established in 2000 Massena is owned by Dan Standish and Jaysen Collins who until 2006 were employed full time at other Barossa wineries (Dan as winemaker at Torbreck and Jaysen as general manager at Turket Flat. They are now ably assisted in winemaking by Fraser McKinley who has worked several vintages with Helen Turley in California.
All Massena wines are from 100% Barossa valley fruit from dry-farmed, low yielding vines up to 155 years age located in the north-western Barossa. Working mostly with traditional Barossa varieties, they have also established experimental vineyards of other varieties like Roussanne, Viognier, Barbera, Primitivo and Tannat.
These are wines of striking purity and natural intensity that reflect their origins. Winemaking is non-interventional and only French oak is used for elevage, NO American oak is used here for maturation. All varieties are hand harvested and wines from each vineyard are raised and kept separate until final blending.
2016 The Surly Muse (75% Viognier, 25% Marsanne)
The grapes for ‘the surly muse’ are sourced from a single site in the Gomersal sub-region. We harvest the Viognier and Marsanne at two different ripeness stages (up to four weeks apart). The early picking of Viognier gives the wine great natural acidity and green tinges, whilst the riper Marsanne adds rich and full fruit flavours. Fermentation and ageing of the surly muse was completed ‘surlie’ (on lees) in stainless steel tanks before bottling unfiltered in July 2016. The wine is pale gold in colour with bright green highlights. The nose displays aromas of apricots, honeysuckle, wild fennel and grapefruit. The palate is firm and restrained, with succulent tropical flavours that are matched with fresh acidity, a taught band of minerality and a creamy texture.
2015 The Twilight Path (66% Primitivo, 27% Mataro, 17% Graciano)
Primitivo is found to be genetically the same as Zinfandel, however it sets an even crop and ripens evenly. This means it can be picked when still showing some bright acidity and lifted aromatics. The 2015 vintage had the typical hot and dry lead into a hot summer, but the Dadds vineyard is always a month or more behind so it survives better than most. Showing bright fruit at an early ripeness level, the Primitivo was hand picked and around 30% by weight of whole bunch fruit is added to the ferment to add complexity and lifted aromatics. The Primitivo was aged in tank to retain its freshness, whilst the Mataro and Graciano were both aged without sulphur in seasoned barrels to soften and age and bring some complimentary secondary characters. The individual cuvee’s were then blended and bottled unfiltered and unfined.
2015 The Moonlight Run (47% Mataro, 38% Grenache, 12% Shiraz, 3% Cinsault)
The 2015 vintage again finds itself based around fruit from our Dadds block Mataro, which has proved to be one of the most intriguing and consistent dry grown vineyards. A handful of whole cluster Cinsault was co-fermented with the Mataro to soften the sharper tannins. Old bush vine Grenache from the Barossa foothills was sourced to add lifted spice and bright fruit and provide multiple blending options. Some tank and barrel ageing was adopted across this blend, with each parcel and barrel selected based on adding as much interest as possible. With a linear Mataro based palate that gives focus, density and minerality supported by maraschino cherry dense Grenache, this is a great mouthful of everything great about a Chateauneuf styled blend. Spicy aromatics abound with black and white pepper, Chinese five spice and native pepper berry jumping out the glass. With so much going on it is best enjoyed on its own, however tuck into this with a Peking Duck and you’ll be extremely satisfied.
2014 The Eleventh Hour (98% Shiraz, 2% Tannat)
Based on vines 60 years old in Greenock with other parcels in the north-west of the Barossa. Each parcel is vinified separately in open concrete fermenters before ageing in seasoned French barriques for 13 months. The parcels are then moved to ta nk before being blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Shows dark plum fruit with licorice, black pepper and spice with typical Barossa depth and generosity though more restrained with savoury French oak and fine supple tannins.
2014 The Howling Dog (72% Saperavi 16% Petite Sirah 12% Tannat)
Early experimental batches of Petite Sirah produced wines that were rich and deep, but had pronounced tannins that caused tasters to release a slight howl as it crossed the palate. We later planted other naturally tannic varietals Tannat and Saperavi and with lessons learnt, the only howl we hear now is one of enjoyment! Destemmed into open fermenters, left to spontaneously ferment, then pumped ove r sporadically for 10 days before some parcels saw extended post fermentation maceration for up to 6 weeks. Extended skin contact integrates the tannins and produces a wine that is a lot softer and more approachable when young. Gentle basket pressing followed, with each vineyard parcel being kept separate in 2nd and 3rd use French oak hogsheads until just prior to blending and bottling in June 2015.
Tannat originates from the foothills of the French Pyrenees just south of Bordeaux. Tannat is extremely rich in procyanidins which give red wines their health benefits with residents of this region in France having double the average of 90+ year olds despite a rich diet of foie gras, duck confit, cassoulet and numerous cheeses. Coming from their Nuriootpa vineyard, this is an outstanding example of varietal Tannat. It’s such a polished wine. So measured and well structured – without any compromise of its fruit generosity. It tastes of coffee grounds and juicy boysenberry and has lots of refreshing, well integrated acidity and a sizeable munch of tannin. Brilliant wine with Tandoori.
2012 The Howling Dog Petite Sirah (Durif)
The name Petit Sirah acknowledges that the variety produces Shiraz like berries that are smaller, giving a much darker colour and rich deep tannins. Some parcels of Petite Sirah are left on skins for up to six weeks to integrate the tannins and produce a wine that is softer and more approachable when young. De-stemmed into open fermenters, left to spontaneously ferment, then pumped over twice daily for 7 days before extended post fermentation maceration for up to 6 weeks. Gentle basket pressing followed, with each vineyard parcel being kept separate in 2nd and 3rd use French oak hogsheads, without sulphur, until just prior to blending and bottling in August 2013. Black as night and laden with an abundance of natural structure and personality this wine is already approachable now and will also beautifully.