Regions> Queensland> Granite Belt region

: Symphony Hills


Symphony Hill

2017 Eukey Rd, Ballandean, 4382

Cellar Door: Daily (10-4)

Ph: (07) 4684 1388

Symphony Hill cellar door. The winery is located at over 1000 metres, which must be one of the highest altitude wineries in Australia (photo:genxywines)
wine label

Symphony Hill is one of the established wineries in the region but has been making a recent splash in the local wine scene (which unfortunately translates into only a small ripple in the national scene) through its quality viticulture and adventurous varietal selection.

The 2003 Reserve Shiraz was the first Queensland wine to win a gold medal at the Sydney Wine Show.

Ewen and Elissa Macpherson purchased an old orchard off Ewen's parents in 1996 and established the vineyard over several years while Ewen completed his viticultural degree.

The winemaker and viticulture manager is Mike Hayes. Mike comes from 3 generations of winemakers/viticulturalists. He has worked extensively around Australia and New Zealand, including the Mornington Peninsula. He is a big fan of Pinot Noir.

The soils are typical for the region - mainly infertile debris from crumbling granite boulders with very little clay content.

The vines are trained on a Smart-Dyson trellis system that opens up the canopy to reduce the disease pressure from summer rains. There is no hedge pruning. When the vines are pruned in winter one cane is left uncut on each vine in order to reduce vigour.

Careful recycling and mulching maintains a healthy population of beneficial insects that removes the need to spray insecticides.

The current portfolio includes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho, Viognier, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The Gewurztraminer is the current standout and picked up two trophies at the 2014 Royal Queensland Wine Show (a national show). Another exciting part of the operation is the establishment of a trial experimental block set aside for 50 varieties including Australian rarities like Picpoul, Petit Manseng, Lagrein and Tannat.

The McPhersons are active supporters of “Asian Kids In Danger” (AKID) who support Asian orphans, slum children and women escaping prostitution. Part proceeds of their Danying Shiraz Cabernet go this cause.

inside cd
Symphony Hill cellar door. Winemaker, viticultural manager and burgundophile, Mike Hayes, is serving (photo:genxywines)
inside cd
Mike Hayes (inside left) with assistant winemaker, Tom Battle and the Bush sisters (photo courtesy: Chronicle) at the 2014 Royal Queensland Wine Awards Dinner where the winery won three trophies (Best Other White Varietal, Best Queensland Wine, Best Exhibitor)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Symphony Hill Gewurztraminer 2016

Purchased: Not ($40)


(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2017, another surprising varietal release showing lychee and turkish delight with rose petal, lavender and ginger notes, talcy palate with good persistence and fresh citrussy acid, some bitterness on the phenolics stops this getting the 5 stars (****1/2)

Symphony Hill Gewurztraminer 2013

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: May 2014, Top Gold at Royal Melbourne Wine Show, quite fresh and aromatic, medium bodied lychee and turkish delight with rose petal and ginger notes, viscous with plenty of talcy texture, fine and ripe phenolics, long and very well balanced with good citrussy acidity, winery is building a track record as one of Australia’s top Gewurztraminer producers (*****)

Symphony Hill Reserve Petit Verdot 2009

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: May 2014, Trophy for Best Alternative Red Wine at 2013 Winewise Awards, perfumed and juicy boysenberry and fruitcake with violet and pepper notes, long and medium bodied with loose knit dusty tannins, rich toasty malt/coffee oak (****)

Symphony Hill Gewurztraminer 2010

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, an unexpected surprise, this shows thoroughly convincing varietal expression, turkish delight, lychee and rose petals with a touch of sherbert and ginger, fine talcy texture, good length and balanced acidity with well controlled phenolics, like a couple of strong examples from the Orange region the cool climate variety can have a future this far north at these lofty altitudes, at over 1000m the vineyard is one of the highest in Australia (****1/2)

Symphony Hill Reserve Cabernet 2006

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, is starting to blossom nicely, elegant and supple with good concentration, boysenberry and blackcurrant with dried herb, graphite and mint nuances, drier than most Australian Cabernets with the rich regional minerality, very good line and length with spicy mocha-vanilla oak also bringing some lead pencil notes (****1/2)

Symphony Hill Reserve Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($65)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, Silver at Sydney Royal Wine Show 2008, silky and medium-full bodied blackberry and black cherry with liquorice and cracked black pepper notes, glycerolly mid-palate overlays the regional minerality and finely grained tannins, well balanced mocha-coffee oak, textural, harmonious and very long (****1/2)

Symphony Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, while not as pungent as Marlborough examples this is still fairly intense and vibrant cool climate style, passionfruit, lime and cut grass with dried herb and blackcurrant notes and spicy red capsicum/snowpea on the finish, tangy citric acids and assertive chalky minerality, good length and focus (****)

Symphony Hill Reserve Verdelho 2010

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, strong regional example showing lively red apple, lime, guava and passionfruit, slightly drier than commercial Hunter Valley or Swan Valley examples, minerally with good line and length for the variety, tangy orange rind acidity (****)

Symphony Hill Viognier 2009

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, richly flavoured example that avoids excessive oiliness or phenolic bitterness, apricot, dried pear and peach with rose petal, ginger and honeysuckle notes, persistent minerally finish with zesty orange rind acidity, worth putting one in the cellar for medium term cellaring (****)

Symphony Hill Reserve Merlot 2006

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, Silver at Sydney Royal Wine Show 2008, good fruit concentration and length showing blackberry, mulberry and dark plum with a touch of fruitcake, firmish and medium-full bodied palate becomes more savoury, persistent grainy tannnins with spicy vanilla-cedar oak, one of the handful of convincing Australian Merlots (****)

Symphony Hill Family Reserve Petit Verdot 2007

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, perfumed dark plum and blueberry with violet and cracked black pepper notes, good depth and concentration although the medium-full bodied palate is a bit blocky in structure as is common with the variety, finishes with gentle powdery tannins and ample toasty cedar and oak spice (***1/2)

Symphony Hill Tempranillo 2009

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, this is in a drink now ‘joven’ style rather than more serious styles from other premium Granite Belt producers, fresh and light-medium bodied raspberry, liqueur cherry and plum with tobacco and citrus notes, loose knit fine tannins, best drunk as fresh as possible (***)

Symphony Hill Danying Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($21)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, this is a 50:50 blend, leafy and aromatic cassis, blackberry and raspberry with violet, pepper and menthol notes, medium-full bodied with good mid-palate fruit concentration, rich coffee-chocolate oak, slightly greenish feel to tannins reflecting the challenging vintage (***)

Symphony Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

Purchased: Not ($65)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2011, multi-clonal including 115, 767 and MV6, earthy cherry, mulberry and plum with mushroom and violet notes, firm and medium-full bodied palate with fine savoury tannins and some toasty brown oak spices, good line and length but lacks enough varietal suppleness, like the few other attempts so far in the region with Pinot Noir it is still a work in progress to get beyond a well made medium bodied dry red (***)

Symphony Hill Pinot Gris 2007

Purchased: Dan Murphys, Kawana, Qld ($30)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2010, almost Viognier-like in its richness showing nectarine, apricot and ginger, oily palate with rather grainy phenolics, dry finish is a bit too phenolic that gives some bitterness to the finish, needs careful food matching to bring out its best (***1/2)

Symphony Hill Tempranillo 2007

Purchased: Dan Murphys, Kawana, Qld ($25)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2010, light-medium bodied redcurrant, plum and liqueur cherry with a touch of raspberry and tobacco, earthy mid-palate with the seasoned oak bringing spicy clove and vanilla notes, a touch of peppermint on the soft finish, the fruit is a bit subdued but will make an unobtrusive food wine (***)

Symphony Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2004

Purchased: CruBar, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane ($19)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2006, lime and green apple flavours with a hint of grapefruit and kiwi fruit, crisp and minerally palate with herbally and green pea notes, zesty citrus finish, complex and well balanced even if not perfectly varietal (****)