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About Squitchy Lane

When i first heard of Squitchy Lane i thought it was an odd name for a winery, with images in my mind of a vineyard block with a water problem, but once my apparent ignorance was overcome and i did some research on the name i found out it was based on owner Mike Fitzpatrick's university days, with Squicthy Lane the location of a number of a wine bar that wet Mike's appetite for wine.

Mike Fitzpatrick is somewhat of an icon of Australia sport, especially if you follow the Carlton football Club having captained the team to two premierships; it was post football however that Mike developed his business interests which included a finance company and more importantly Squitchy Lane wines.

The choice of the Yarra Valley as the site for Squitchy Lane was based on a tasting of Mt Mary wines with Dr John Middleton and the apparent climatic similarities between Burgundy and Bordeaux with the Yarra Valley sitting somewhere in between and enabling the production of the noble varieties found in both regions. The Squitchy Lane vineyard which is located in Coldstream was purchased in 1996, and in 2004 the Squitchy Lane label became a reality.

The Vineyard

The seven hectare vineyard was originally planted in 1982, with viticulturist Steve Sadlier highlighting the importance of vine age to the resultant wines produced, with fruit intensity the key; due to the vine age there is minimal irrigation. The soil profile varies across the vineyard with yellow and grey clay loam soils, as well as some gravel, the latter of which is conducive to Pinot Noir.

In terms of aspect the vineyard has a north/south row orientation with ample sunshine and airflow, In talking to Robert Paul about the vineyard he explains that the site benefits from a long, typically even growing season that produces grapes with natural acidity and a broad spectrum of flavours.

About the winemaker -  Robert Paul

Robert Paul has an exceptional CV having worked across a number of Australia's wine regions, as well as working vintages in France, China, Bulgaria, Turkey & Argentina. In addition Robert is the longest serving judge of the Cool Climate Wine Show, which highlights the impeccable palate that Rob brings to critique the wines that he makes !

Varietal Focus & Winemaking Techniques

Given the age of the vineyard Rob works hard to guide the expression of the vineyard in the winery, producing wines with a focus on natural acidity, balance and varietal definition.

The following varieties are planted at Squitchy Lane:

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon

There is a quote from Rob that sums up his approach to winemaking, that makes you think that Squitchy Lane is in very capable hands.

“The single most important lesson I have learned in my years of winemaking is that experience wins every time,”, “With experience, the winemaker knows just when to stand back and let the wine make itself—and these wines turn out to be the most satisfying, complete and integrated wines. Natural is best when you know how to work with nature, not against it.”

My Thoughts on the wines

Across the board the wines of Squitchy Lane are very impressive, and it is certainly a label to watch.

Below are a few general thoughts on a few of the wines, with reviews of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chardonnay to be available soon, and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon available here.

Fume Blanc

The Fume Blanc has been designed to be the perfect accompaniment to oysters and given its wonderful structure and texture i think it is right on track to be that wine.

Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

The Pinot's are a great expression of the Yarra Valley with primary fruit, supporting oak and savoury nuances all in alignment, the Chardonnays really shine with wines of moderate alcohol highlighting Rob's winemaking pedigree in producing wines that are attractive and complex, but structured in a way that will reward time in the cellar.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The pick of the wines for me is the Cabernet Sauvignon, with examples like the 2010 from Squitchy Lane i continue to remark as to why this variety from the Yarra Valley doesn't get more consumer attention.