Winemaker Matt Burton

“I feel tremendously lucky to have been given the opportunity to bring six unique stories from one of the greatest ever Hunter vintages to life in bottle.” — Matt Burton, Winemaker


The 2014 Hunter vintage has gone down as one of the greats. It was quite unlike any other I have experienced, and served as a great source of creative inspiration in the winery. Amongst the new blends and alternative styles we developed, I also made the decision to individually process, ferment, and mature six parcels of fruit that would form a new range of Single Vineyard wines.

The concept was simple; select the highest quality parcels of Semillon and Shiraz coming into the winery, and give each identical (as much as practically possible) winemaking treatments. The resulting wines would then serve as individual expressions of the vineyard, variety, and this extraordinary season. Differences between the personalities of the wines would be a function of these factors, and not as a result of my hand as a winemaker.

The wine show success of the entire range has been outstanding, despite the limited number entered. On their first outing, the Somerset Semillon claimed an equal Top Gold Medal at the Royal Queensland Wine Show, with the Sunshine Vineyard also winning a Gold Medal on 95 points. Along with the Vernon Semillon, they then went on to win a total of one Trophy, five Gold, and eight silver medals over 2014 and 2015. At the 2015 Hunter Valley Wine Show, the Old Road and 48 Block Shiraz would each claim Gold Medals.

Critical acclaim from media has been even more impressive. The wines have drawn incredible praise, and some of our highest ever scores, from James Halliday, Andrew Graham, Grant Dodd, Max Allen, and David Brooks to name a few. After three years in bottle, we’ve settled on an official release date of Friday the 1st of December 2017. If you are interested in purchasing these stunning wines, the best way is by joining either the Press List or Cellar Club via the MEMBERSHIP link.


Sunshine Vineyard

Sunshine Vineyard

Sunshine Vineyard

Situated on Wine Country Drive in Pokolbin, the Sunshine Vineyard was originally owned by the McDonald family and then sold to Lindemans. Graeme Staas then purchased the vineyard some thirty years ago, and then planted Semillon fifteen years later. The soil is incredibly sandy and well drained, with the block planted over an old creek bed. The site lends itself to Semillons with a very fine acid line, and an almost understated fruit drive. For me, this is arguably the most pure / traditional style of Semillon we’ve produced in this range, with the wine only just starting to hint at any level of maturity.

"…flavour harmony, balance, line and length all ticked…95 points." — James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 11.8%
  • pH: 3.18
  • TA: 6.7 g/L

Somerset Vineyard

Somerset Vineyard

The site of the Somerset Vineyard was selected by Glen Howard, the current custodian’s, great, great Grandfather in 1863. The block of Semillon used for this wine was planted in 1965 (Busby clone). Like the Sunshine Vineyard, the block was planted on a patch of sandy loam that formed the belly of an old creek bed, and is on own roots. Very much a central Pokolbin style of Semillon, where we see vibrant citrus and a fine acid line met with a little more richness than the upper Broke Road and Hermitage Road wines.

"...the standout of the three Gundog '14 Semillons with its extraordinary intensity and drive, creating a very rich palate...96 points.” — James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 10.9%
  • pH: 3.10
  • TA: 6.9 g/L

Vernon Vineyard

Somerset Vineyard

I’ve worked with David and Sue Vernon for twelve years now. Their family has owned the property for over seventy years, and twenty years ago they planted Semillon (DA16162 clone). The vineyard sits on one of the most picturesque vistas in the Hunter – an easterly facing slope on the hills of Mount View, overlooking the Davis vineyards, and Bistro Molines. The soil is red volcanic, tending to grey loam as you move down the steep slope, and the vines are dry grown.

Despite the multiple (silver) medal contribution it made to the Single Vineyard wine show tally, the Semillon from this site is the outlier in terms of style. For this very reason, I feel it presents a unique story, definitely worth telling. Being dry grown, and on red soil, the Vernon Semillon is the most robust of the three, with greater generosity of flavour, and more texture across the palate. Fruit flavours tend to the tropical spectrum, though this is set against the contrasting backdrop of more grassy notes, creating an endearing style, and a polar opposite of the other two in the range.

"...Stands out for its multifaceted complexity, opening with a clap of cymbals and finishing with another clap in a different register... 95 points." — James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 12.1%
  • pH: 3.11
  • TA: 7.1 g/L
Semillon Winemaking

In the winery, the three Semillon were treated in the same fashion. As we were seeking absolute purity of style, we only used the first 450-550 litres per ton of free run juice. This Champagne-like approach to pressing was then coupled to extensive juice fining (to protect the wine later in the production process), and double racking, prior to inoculation with a neutral yeast (DV10), and a cool fermentation. The wines were then allowed to mature on light yeast lees for four months, prior to a final light fining, filtration and bottling.


Sunshine Vineyard

Somerset Vineyard

Somerset Vineyard

As we’ve already touched on the history of the Somerset Vineyard, we’ll focus on the contributing blocks in this instance. Planted in 1965 and 1970 to the Busby clone, on eastern and western facing slopes respectively, both blocks sit on red volcanic soil over limestone. The 1965 planting is dry grown, and the 1970 block is only irrigated when very dry. I’ve worked with Shiraz from these blocks for over ten years, and have come to develop a deep appreciation for the “Hunter Burgundy” style of Shiraz it produces season to season. Even with the allure of unlimited ripening potential in 2014, I was adamant about respecting the medium bodied style that seems so natural to the site, and harvested at around 13.4 Baume.

I just love the sublime savoury elegance of the wine, where tannin, flavour, and acidity work in unison to deliver tremendous length.

"The abiding class and virtue of this wine is its extreme length, built on freshness and elegance. Its fragrance is notable, as is the harmony of the fruit flavours…96 points."— James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 13.8%
  • pH: 3.36
  • TA: 6.8 g/L

The 48 Block

2014 48 Block Shir

2014 was our first season working with this amazing block of fruit. Owned by the Tinkler family, the “48 Block” was part of the well-known Lindemans Ben Ean plantings. These days it produces a small crop of stunning Shiraz – tiny berries and loose bunches. Sharing a similar soil profile to the Somerset Vineyard, the wines produced from this block also fit very much into the “Hunter Burgundy” style of Shiraz, if taken early enough. This is exactly the approach we took, and harvested at 13 Baume. I recall an amazing perfume throughout the fermentation, with cherry and spice wafting through the winery. Relative to the Somerset Shiraz, I see more spice and richness, particularly toward the back of the palate, but it still manages to carry great finesse.

"…the complexity and richness of this wine puts it in first place, and it will keep its shape and fruit flavour a little bit longer…97." — James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 13.4%
  • pH: 3.34
  • TA: 6.9 g/L

The Old Road

2014 Old road Shir

With obvious trademark considerations in mind, we named the Shiraz produced from DeBortoli’s Will’s Hill Vineyard, “The Old Road.” The name references the original road into Pokolbin, which snaked through the vineyard. Planted in 1980 by the Lesnik family who migrated from Austria, the soil is a clay loam whose profile is interrupted with iron-rich gravel. The vineyard is now managed by Will Capper, who has done an exceptional job in transforming it into one of the premier lower Hunter Shiraz vineyards. Definitely a contrast to the Shiraz produced from the other two sites, the Will’s Hill vineyard likes to deliver wines of impressive richness and depth, stylistically presenting as a more modern interpretation of Hunter Shiraz. There is an enticing sweetness and seamlessness of fruit flavour in the wine, matched to the broader brush strokes of tannin across the palate.

"…the keywords are depth and richness, the persistence of dark fruits matched by tannins…96 points." — James Halliday

  • Alcohol: 13.6%
  • pH: 3.47
  • TA: 6.8 g/L
Shiraz Winemaking

Each of these parcels was given a 2-day cold soak. We then inoculated with the same yeast for consistency (M2), and fermented warm in open top tanks. Following fermentation, we matched the oak maturation regime across the wines, and were keen to ensure the oak played a supportive, but secondary, role in these wines. As such, the only new oak component came by way of a single new St. Martin puncheon for each wine (30% new oak equivalent). We then restricted oak maturation to 10 months, prior to a light fining and filtration before bottling.

Single Vineyard Semillon Mixed Three Bottle Pack
One Bottle of Each Semillon
Single Vineyard Shiraz Mixed Three Bottle Pack
One Bottle of Each Shiraz