Our visiting French winemaker Matthieu just asked me what will happen with our long maceration wines. These are the batches of fruit that ferment in the open vats and then spend another 3-4 week on skins before being pressed. We do this with our Shiraz and Durif for the Family Cellar range. Although quite common in some parts of Europe, it is not a standard practice in Australia. He asked "Will they need to age longer? Will they be vins de garde?"

His expectation was that they would be very hard and tannic, needing years in the cellar to soften. A quick tasting out of the vat changed his mind completely. The 2010 long maceration wines are remarkable soft already. This is because of the oxygen which gets into the wine early and the tannin development that goes on whilst the maceration takes place. The wines come out of the press with lovely fine-grained tannins that are really stable, so you get this great structure and complexity, rather than just a bucket-load of grip. Having been making the Family Cellar reds since 2003, I think we can already say that the wines have that great ability to be enjoyable on release, but also have the capacity to age brilliantly. We recently served the 2004 FC Shiraz at a dinner for 220 people and it was superb, with plenty of life and vibrancy to see it mature well for another decade at least.