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 2018 Artisan Series Tilbury Chardonnay comes from a selection of vineyards, predominantly at higher altitudes (450-550m) in the Piccadilly Valley and some from Lobethal. Mature vines and a mixture of clones: Bernard C76, C95 and C96 with I10VI, G9V7 and Mendoza.
Hand-picked grapes were partly whole-berry and whole-bunch pressed before fermentation in older French oak barrels. Partial malolactic fermentation was allowed with a touch of lees stirring to add complexity. The end result is a magnificent Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, with rapier intensity enveloped in a soft, warming feel that goes on and on and on...
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 Tilbury is an open carriage with large wheels making it a light, fast and potentially dangerous (!) carriage with an elaborate suspension for a softer ride.