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Best’s Hamill Shiraz: Inspired by a vision, with a nod to the past

When you’ve been making wine for more than 150 years. It’s not often that a project creates so much excitement and buzz among the Thomson family. As well as the broader Best’s team. As many of our loyal supporters know, Shiraz is our heartland here at Best’s. Our iconic vineyards surrounding the original homestead are acclaimed all over the world. Planted in 1868, they are the source of our flagship wines such as the Thomson Family Shiraz and Bin No. 0 Shiraz.

A bottle of Hamill Shiraz 2019

Mother nature can often be unkind, as was evidenced in November 2017 when many of our vineyards were wiped out by a severe black frost. We lost 99.9% of the fruit off these vineyards at the time. Which reinforced that we needed to do things a little differently. We knew we needed to secure our future and minimise the risks to ensure we could still produce wines for our customers to enjoy. The 2017 frost ignited a passion in fifth-generation and Managing Director Ben Thomson, spurring him to make the most significant vineyard purchase in the history of Best’s at nearby Sugarloaf Creek in 2018. You can read about this here. Sugarloaf is only 5km, as the crow flies, from Best’s Winery and homestead in Great Western, Victoria and only 2km from the very first vineyard purchased by the Thomson Family in 1893.

Ben notes that, at the time, many thought he was crazy for putting it all on the line and investing so much in additional Great Western vineyards. But he recognised that climate change is real. The family had been buying fruit from this vineyard for years. It was therefore time to secure the future supply of both Cabernet and Shiraz. With more land available to test and trial other varietals as they saw fit.

The Sugarloaf vineyard is different to the old Concongella vineyards. With a different water profile, soil type and higher elevation, which means it’s not as prone to frost. The site still brings much of Great Western’s distinctive aroma and flavour profiles. But, as with any wine that comes from a specific place, there are different layers to be discovered.

It’s now been four years since the purchase of Sugarloaf, and the winemaking and vineyard team are learning the nuances of the vineyard. Much of the harvested fruit goes into our Bin No 1 Shiraz and Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon, but there are rows and specific parts of the 114-hectare (400 acre) site deserving of their own wine. And that’s what inspired this new-release Shiraz. Ben could not be prouder to release another premium wine into our fold.

So, we introduce a new Shiraz. The Best’s Hamill Shiraz is picked off three distinctive blocks. The small parcels kept aside and treated separately in the winery. Individual rows are hand-harvested to incorporate the whole-bunch spice. Whole berry on the bottom to create the fleshy red fruits. This wine was produced using 85% whole bunch and 15% whole berry. Fermented on skins for up to 21 days and matured in French barriques for 14 months. It’s a rich and voluptuous single-vineyard wine. With depth and delicious flavours that are slightly different to those Best’s Shiraz sourced around the homestead. It’s a wine that won’t knock your socks off with too much alcohol, so you can drink and enjoy it.

Take a moment to hear Ben tell the story of this special site.

WHY THE NAME HAMILL?

Hamill tells a multi-generational story of the Thomson family, beginning with Emily Grace Hamill, who married Fredrick Thomson. Emily was instrumental in the success of the Thomson family and enabled the family to purchase Best’s. The name Hamill has been handed down through four generations. Sitting with fifth-generation Thomson, Benjamin (Ben) Hamill, whose leadership led to purchasing the Sugarloaf Vineyard.

  • Fourth generation – Eric Vivian Hamill Thomson.
  • Third generation – Eric Hamill Thomson
  • Second generation – Frederick Pinchon Hamill Thomson
  • First generation – Emily Grace Hamill

It’s in the family’s usual humble way they’re giving a silent nod to the history and dedication to Emily Grace Hamill. A lovely way to honour the past and while looking to the future.

THE FUTURE OF SUGARLOAF VINEYARD

We will continue to work on sustainability in the vineyard with practices to ensure our wines are world-class and put our Great Western region on the map.

There are plans to plant more on this special site, perhaps Riesling and Dolcetto, but for now, we’re working hard to ensure we can continue to supply lovers of Best’s with the best wine possible. We can’t wait to hear what you think of the new release!

TRY HAMILL SHIRAZ FOR YOURSELF