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OLIVERHILL

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McLaren Vale,  Australia

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Oliverhill is a small boutique winery located in McLaren Vale South Australia (McLaren Vale has been referred to as the middle palate of Australian wine). Linda and Stuart Miller own this winery, which was founded in 1973, and is near the spectacular Onkaparinga Gorge National Park. They specialise in premium quality, limited production reds. Specifically, a single vineyard Shiraz, "Jimmy Section", coming from a small 5-acre plot planted 30 years ago; a Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on the lower section of the same vineyard along with some Durif; and a Grenache, sourced from the "Bradey Block" vineyard of old bush vines some 80 years old.

The wines represent the classic South Australian style, big and juicy with sweet black fruits, broad shouldered with substantial palate presence, yet maintaining balance and exceptional fruit intensity. All four reds are produced in an extremely limited format with total production hovering around 3000 cases total. The Miller's are producing hand-crafted wines that are truly artisan in style. They will never produce alot of wine, but what they do produce will always be of the highest quality.

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Oliverhill is an actual strip of dirt situated on Seaview Rd., along which is grown arguably some of the best fruit in Australia. At the base of the hill are wineries such as d'Arenberg and Maxwell's, and further along the road, Kay Brothers and Coriole. Fruit that is grown along this road also makes its way in to Penfolds Grange and the famous Rosemount's Balmoral label. And then, right in the thick of all this, is a tiny property owned by Stuart and Linda Miller called Oliverhill Winery.

As soon as the "Jimmy Section Shiraz" landed in U.S.A., the wine appealed to a number of the trade who swiftly ordered every case brought into the country. One person referred to it as "liquid sex" after tasting it. You get the idea. This is a sensationally voluptuous, rich, full-bodied, highly-extracted yet velvety-textured, old vine Shiraz with an opaque blue/purple colour, a spectacularly aromatic nose (black and blue fruits, creosote, smoke, and graphite), huge body, great concentration, and a compelling seamlessness. Given today's wine prices, it is an unequivocal bargain. Drink it over the next 10-12 years. (Robert Parker on the 2001 Jimmy Section Shiraz. 93 points)

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The Oliverhill vineyard produces an average of 3 tonnes to the acre, the vines are hand spur-pruned, and the fruit is hand-picked determined by flavour. The fruit is crushed-destemmed into 3 tonne open fermenters. The Shiraz is inoculated with Lalvin Syrah or D245 yeast. Han-plunging takes place four times a day or more. The wine is fermented to dryness on skins, average 12-14 days. It is then basket pressed, into tank, and left overnight to settle, then into barrels, typically one-third new, one-third one-year-old, and one-third two-year-old French barriques. Barrels are a combination of Sirugue, Nadalie and A.P. John. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel, the wine then racked three times over 12-18 months. The wine is then coarse-filtered, sulphured, and bottled. All processes take place on premise.

See Oliverhill wines we sell

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