Murdoch Hill has been in the Downer family since 1939 but vines were first planted here only in 1998. The farm is on the eastern side of the Adelaide Hills in the Onkaparinga Valley, with 21 hectares of vineyard on shallow red loam soils packed with schist and limestone and up to 516 metres above sea level. Since taking over the winemaking reins in 2012, Michael Downer has taken the farm’s wines to similar heights.
The 2017 Artisan Series Landau Syrah was made from fruit from the Murdoch Hill estate vineyards near Oakbank on shallow soils with varying levels of schist and ironstone, located on the eastern part of the Adelaide Hills where warm daytime temperatures help the Syrah to ripen and afternoon gully breezes keep the nights cool.
In terms of winemaking, there's a fair amount of whole-bunch and whole-berry in small open ferments, a traditional practice that provides incredible aromatics of spice and clove while giving a fine texture to the wine. Minimal oak maturation, just 9-10 months in largely older French oak barrels, better to express the key characteristics of the vineyard.
Michael names his Artisan Series wines after different carriages in tribute to his grandfather T.E. Downer (1913-1984), a passionate collector of horse drawn vehicles. Each wine is named after a carriage type that reflect's the style. The Landau is a very social carriage with facing seats and often a low shell to give maximum visibility of the occupants and their clothing - a popular choice for royalty.