Regions > Victoria >Port Phillip zone >Yarra Valley region

: Tarrawarra



Yarra Glen-Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen, 3775

Cellar Door: Daily (10-5)

Ph: (03) 5423 2088

Panorama from the Tarrawarra restaurant

Marc and Eva Besen's stunning wine and restaurant complex at the eastern side of the region has been further enhanced by the opening of a large art gallery in 2005.

Most of the Chardonnay was planted in 1983 and the Pinot Noir in 1984. Even without this the wines more than justify a visit ( we took a whole mini-bus load as part of our genxywines Yarra tour).

The Estate Chardonnay is consistently judged amongst the top ten in the country and the Pinot sometimes gets close. Careful attention to detail keeps Tarrawarra at these lofty heights.

A view of the Tarrawarra complex from the lake

In recent years the older blocks of Chardonnay have been grafted over to the Mendoza clone. The older vines are being converted towards the newer VSP trellising system that keep the growing cordon close to the ground to make the most of radiant heat, and also provides maximum leaf cover to protect the grapes from summer sunburn.

The micro-climate helps with the warm air funnelled northwards along Long Gully mean that Tarrawarra vines achieve full ripeness despite their proximity to the Yarra Ranges.

Winemaker Clare Halloran, a Roseworthy graduate with experience at T'Gallant and is very active in the Pinot Noir technology conferences. She uses both innoculated and wild yeast ferments, while malolactic fermentation is naturally occurring apart from one sulphur addition. The second budget label is called Tin Cows.

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)

New reviews

Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($70)

Drink: 2023

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, from 39 year old vines, D5V12 clones in a low yielding warmish vintage, aromatic raspberry and dark plums with rose petal florals and a dusting of brown spices, long and concentrated palate, dusty tannins and restrained cedar/mocha oak (****1/2)

Tarrawarra Estate Barbera 2015

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2022

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2016, first release replacing an underperforming Pinot vineyard, †matured in 4000l vats before going into seasoned puncheons, slippery plum and black cherry with anise and garden herb notes, palate is only light-medium, crunchy acidity, toasty and spicy oak support (***1/2)

Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased: Not ($70)

Drink: 2024

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2015, †low yielding warmer vintage, MV6 and D5V12 clones, perfumed, long, foresty and succulent core of raspberry and black cherry with rose petal, mint and herb notes, some mid-palate glycerol plumpness and firm but slinky savoury tannins, there is a light touch of oak spice and dark chocolate on the finish, not quite up there with the 2012 vintage but still a five star wine (*****) †

Tarrawarra Estate Chardonnay 2013

Purchased:† Cellar Door ($28)

Drink: 2019

(GXY) Tasting: June 2015,† multi-clonal, generous and tangy nectarine, lemon zest and rockmelon with struck match and nutty lees notes, good length with crunchy grapefruit acidity and creamy cashew French oak (****)

Tarrawarra Estate Ltd Release MDB Pinot Noir 2012

Purchased: Not ($104)

Drink: 2027

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2014, best few barrels only released in best vintages, MV6 clone from 13 rows of the H-block, highly perfumed and quite elegant and supple showing pristine plum, strawberry and blueberry in a tightly wound, medium bodied palate, long and linear with some earthiness, discrete spicy oak (*****)

Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Estate Pinot Noir 2012

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2024

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2014, MV6 and D5-V12 clone, from a very good vintage, complex nose, long and elegant morello cherry and strawberry with anise, asian spice, forest floor and rose petal florals, still quite tightly wound but some emerging savouriness and gaminess, underpinned with spine of fine tannins and nervy acidity, balanced spicy vanilla oak, needs another five or six years to open up (*****)

Tarrawarra Estate Block J Shiraz 2012

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, 2% Roussanne co-ferment, supple, velvety and brambly mulberry, black cherry and dark plums with white pepper, mint and anise notes, vibrant violet florals, some smoked meat aspects on the medium-full bodied palate, graphite minerality, fine tannins and nutmeg/cedar/vanilla from the French oak (****1/2)

Tarrawarra Estate Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2013

Purchased: Not ($27)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, moderately viscous, barrel fermented style showing lemon rind, pear and orange peel with a touch of almond and ginger, finishes dry and savoury, really needs another five years in the cellar to unfold its best (****)

Tarrawarra Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2012

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, pre-release tasting, varieties grafted onto older rootstock in 2006, whole bunch pressed, partial ferment on old French puncheons, moderately viscous with a good line, poached pear, orange rind and apricot with a dusting of musk and ginger spices and a whiff of almond,† should develop more intense citrus flavours and waxiness with a few years more age which is what Iím putting the drink by date at but can be appreciated in a fresher style within a couple of years (****)

Tarrawarra Reserve Chardonnay 2011

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, whole bunch pressed, barrel fermented but no malo despite the high acid levels from the cold vintage, quite aromatic, focussed white peach, lemon zest and nectarines with some savoury mealy complexity and a hint of quince, creamy palate with a little less flavour intensity than usual but still shows the wineryís rich style and very good length, spicy French oak in a support role, crunchy grapefruit acidity but nothing too bracing, longer cellaring style (*****)

Tarrawarra K-Block Merlot 2010

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2020+

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, vines grafted in 2006 onto 20 year old Pinot rootstock, floral, briary and concentrated black cherries and plums with a whiff of blueberry, but not extracted or heavy, thereís some savoury olive and anise complexity, also cedar and nutmeg from the range of French oak treatments, has slinky but firm tea-like tannins, nice to see a serious local Merlot as most Australian examples are thin with weak tannins or heavily extracted Shiraz look-alikes† (****1/2)

Tarrawarra H-Block Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, there was no release of the Reserve due to the very cold vintage, instead there is a single vineyard release (the 26 year old MV6 clone H-Block vines forms the core of the Reserve anyway), very fragrant and silky redcurrants and plums with rose petal florals and anise notes, glycerolly light-medium palate with some earthy and leafy complexity, toasty and spicy French oak is well matched to the delicacy of the vine, fresh acidity without getting too green-edged, commendable effort for this vintage (****)

Tarrawarra J-Block Shiraz 2010

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: June 2013, co-fermented with 2% Roussanne,† aromatic, silky and medium bodied showing glossy red cherries and dark plums with white pepper, mint and aniseed in a medium bodied framework, streak of attractive minerality runs through palate, fine and savoury tannins with a touch of oak char on the finish (****)

Tarrawarra Reserve Pinot Noir 2010

Purchased: Not ($60)

Drink: 2017+

(GXY) Tasting:† Aug 2012, MV6 and D5-V12 clones, quite fragrant, fuller glazed cherry and plum with rose petal, anise and asian spice notes, the long palate shows emergent savoury game complexity with swirling, well balanced lightly charred French oak, lingering dusty open knit tannins (****1/2)

Tarrawarra Tin Cows Pinot Noir 2005

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting Nov 2007, straightforward drink now style showing red cherry and plum, the sweet, and slightly confectionary palate is light-medium bodied with some light spice, smooth tannins (***)

Tarrawarra Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, funky nose showing nectarine, grapefruit, melon and flinty barrel ferment characters, buttery palate but with good fruit intensity and structure, emerging butterscotch notes, toasty savoury vanilla oak, lingering citric minerally finish (****1/2)

Tarrawarra Pinot Noir 2004

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, only just released, nose still a bit closed but reveals raspberry, plum and red cherry flavours, has some gamy and forest floor development, medium-full bodied palate is a bit forward with metallic tannins, even with cellaring time I doubt it will achieve the elegant balance of the 2002 (***1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, nectarine, peach and stone fruit with a hint of fig, buttery palate with nutty and spicy features, light toasty vanilla oak, tangy finish (***1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Merlot 2003

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, bright and sweet plum pudding fruit, medium bodied palate shows olive, pepper and herbally features, lots of cedar-vanilla oak, tannins are still quite grippy (***1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Shiraz 2003

Purchased: Yes ($20)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, 50% Yarra, 50% Heathcote, ripe and concentrated plummy Heathcote fruit is well balanced with the black cherry and blueberry Yarra fruit, sweet and powerful palate with spice and pepper features, mocha-chocolate oak, smooth tannins, blend is very approachable now (***1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Pinot Gris 2006

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, fragrant pear with nectarine notes, light spice, honey and herbal notes on the palate, crisp finish (***)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Rose 2005

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2006, Pinot-derived with 3% Shiraz, dry strawberry with a hint of plum, faint mid-palate spice and herbs, dry finish (***)

Tarrawarra Chardonnay 2003

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2006, complex nose showing nectarine, stone fruit and flinty barrel ferment characters, buttery palate but with good fruit intensity and structure, cashew lees features, toasty savoury vanilla oak, lingering minerally finish (****1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2003

Purchased: Not ($20)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2006, fairly generous nose showing melon, stonefruit and barrel ferment characters, creamy, medium bodied palate with lees features, some looseness in structure but a pretty good drink now Chardonnay for the price (***1/2)

Tin Cows Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Purchased: Not ($18)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2006, cellar door only, nose shows lychee, passionfruit and some grassiness, not very intense, crisp balancing acid, drink as an appetisers or with lighter seafood dishes (***)

Tarrawarra Pinot Noir 2002

Purchased: Yes ($50)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2005, medium bodied palate with red cherry and plum flavours, tight, well-structured fruit, elegant spice, cinnamon and briary notes with a hint of barnyard, Yarra Valley style at its best (****1/2)