Winery

Swinney

The road from grape grower to winemaker can be fraught with difficulties. Yet, by building from the vineyard first, employing a dream team of passionate and experienced people, and never taking the focus away from quality, siblings Matt and Janelle Swinney have created something exceptional in the Frankland River region of WA.

It’s one thing to aim for the stars; it’s quite another to have the tools to get there. Matt Swinney had a powerful vision to establish a benchmark and unique vineyard on his family’s property, situated on the gravelly, ironstone soils of the Frankland. His intention was always to found a benchmark wine label using only the finest fruit, but good things take time—especially when it comes to vines! Most plantings occurred in 1998, and the site quickly garnered a reputation for quality and originality. Innovations such as planting bush vines (the first in modern-day WA, where they are virtually unknown) and taking the leap with Grenache and Mourvèdre (in a region that many felt was too cool for these Mediterranean varieties) certainly raised eyebrows. Today, both these decisions have proven to be inspiring.

Fast forward to today, and the Swinney estate has become regarded by many as the finest Shiraz vineyard in WA, not to mention an excellent source for Frankland River Riesling. They have also staked their claim (pardon the pun!) as one of the world’s great sites for both Grenache and Mourvèdre—if you think we’re exaggerating, then we look forward to showing you the upcoming releases. More recently, in 2018, the Swinneys invited renowned winemaker Rob Mann to join the team. Mann is the grandson of the legendary Jack Mann—the godfather of Western Australian wine—and is internationally respected in his own right after his work at Cape Mentelle, Hardy’s Tintara and Newton in the Napa. By his own account, Mann took one look at the vineyard and asked, “Where do I sign on?”

In the Vineyard

“The Swinney vineyard represents modern viticulture interwoven with Old-World techniques, executed with precision through a combination of exhaustive manual work and state-of-the-art technology, and all underpinned by an environmental focus…and the quality of the resulting wines, is truly extraordinary and inspiring.” Young Gun of Wine – Australian Vineyard of The Year 2020

The Swinneys have been no less careful about who they entrusted their vines. Following celebrated viticulturist Lee Haselgrove’s tenure, in 2021 Rhys Thomas joined the team as viticulturalist and vineyard manager. A long-term buyer of Swinney fruit, Thomas has been walking the blocks and rows of the Swinney vineyards for over 15 years and was a leading force in the family’s drive towards pure quality and sustainability. His soil and aspect-driven approach will only further help peel back the layers of the Swinny’s outstanding terroir.

Drilling down, the Farvie vines are rooted in the deep, gravelly, ironstone crests of the Swinney estate’s upper, northeast-facing hillsides. The vines are exposed to the cool breezes off the river, and the prevalence of rusting lateritic gravel in the soil allows for excellent drainage and deep access to moisture. This specific soil type and aspect has been identified as delivering the purest earth-to-glass expression (described by winemaker Rob Mann as a ferrous or bloody note) and providing purity, restraint and a noble tannin profile. Rob Mann notes with some pride that this combination of soil and vine repeatedly delivers regardless of the season. They chose well.

The vines are dry-farmed according to organic principles, and there’s a complex root pruning program to encourage the deep rooting system the vines require to cope with this growing regime. The canopy management is meticulous, with fastidious shoot and fruit-thinning and deliberate bunch selection. There’s shade cloth for the Shiraz to assist with lower temperatures in the bunch zone. And, while the Grenache and Mourvèdre are exclusively bush vines, the canopies are also managed to ensure soft light on the bunches. Each vine is picked over multiple passes at harvest time (typically a week earlier than the Swinney wines made from the same vineyards), with only the very best bunches—those found in the dappled light of the vine’s architecture—set aside for Farvie.

Over the last handful of vintages, the Swinney label has been celebrated by critics worldwide in a way that is most unusual for such a young producer. Despite their sizeable holdings, the Swinneys produce very limited volumes of their own wine, cherry-picking a tiny percentage of their parcels for their own production.

In the Winery

The winemaking philosophy here is equally precise yet straightforward. Both Mann and the Swinney family want to reflect and preserve the personality of each individual vineyard site in that season. They want people to be reminded of the place rather than the maker. After careful sorting, fermentations are natural; Robb Mann also favours co-fermentation and the flavour and structural integration this brings. Gravity flow is utilised to avoid pumping, maximising the percentage of whole berries and minimising maceration. Mann is looking for an infusion-style, gentle extraction, and this approach goes a long way to explaining the remarkable balance and purity of the wines. The reds are aged in mostly seasoned wood, ranging from 500-litre demi muids to 36-hl wooden vats. The resulting wines are outstanding and shine with character, craft and respect for the land.

Swinny’s Farvie label represents the finest quality and purest vineyard expression from the family’s best, organically managed sites. These are wines made from specific vines and bunches, farmed in the kind of obsessive fashion that we associate with the most outstanding growers worldwide. The Farvie vines are rooted in the deep, gravelly, ironstone crests of the Swinney Estate’s upper, northeast-facing hillsides. The vines are exposed to the cool breezes off the river, and the prevalence of rusting lateritic gravel in the soil allows for excellent drainage and deep access to moisture. This specific soil type and aspect has been identified as delivering the purest earth-to-glass expression (described by winemaker Rob Mann as a ferrous or bloody note) and also providing purity, restraint and a noble tannin profile. Both the Grenache and the Shiraz are stimulating, cutting-edge wines born from skilful and fanatical farming practices.

“The best wines you make are the ones you have to do the least amount to,” notes Mann. The resulting wines speak volumes of this meticulous and thoughtful approach.


The 2021 Release


Swinney Riesling 2022

Riesling | West Australia, Australia

Riesling and the Great Southern region of WA are a great match. Swinney's covers all of the gaps I find in so many Australian Rieslings. The two big ones: development and vinosity, and texture. Precise with an exceptional line of acid giving it the tension to hold exceptional fruit. A twist of phenolics adding interest and a cleansing finsh. Great gear! The 2022 Riesling was bottled June 2022, and at the time of tasting (August 2022), it had spent only two months in glass. It is piercing
$41
$38ea in any 3+
$35ea in any 6+

Swinney Syrah 2021

Shiraz/Syrah | West Australia, Australia

Beautifully refined with vibrant fresh fruit. Excellent élévage and exceptional mouthfeel. Plush and delicately spiced with a satisfying generosity and balanced twist of whole bunch. "The 2021 Syrah is a haunting, glowing crimson in the glass. I love the tannins here—they're so good that they compel me to look beyond the fruit and to the structure, which is a rare occurrence. There are notes of pink peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorn, and the fruit has purity, clarity and a supple flo
$48
$45ea in any 6+
$42ea in any 12+

Swinney Grenache 2021

Grenache | West Australia, Australia

Vibrant and elegant with fine, long tannins. Flint and slate marry perfume and violets. Gently flowing complex red fruits, with balanced harmonised acid. Layered savoury, earthy, saline. A success with loads of energy! The Swinney Grenache is grown on bush vines, on a northeast-facing slope in the gravels of Frankland River. It is so different from the wines produced in South Australia (McLaren Vale, Barossa, etc). I love the clarity and the bloodiness of the wine in this vintage. The tan
$48
$45ea in any 3+
$42ea in any 6+

Swinney Mourvèdre 2021

Mourvèrdre | West Australia, Australia

Mouvèdre is more often seen as a blending component offering a superb perfume of violets and flowers, structured tannins yet not necessarily the overt fruit making it a perfect fit in a Grenache Shiraz Mouvèdre. Although I didn't get to try this wine the 2021 Swinney Mouvèdre demonstrated why a stand-alone version from this Frankland River version works. Australian wine often has opulent sweet fruit that needs taming, in this instance the fruit gives their Mouvèdre the missing link to making
$48
$45ea in any 3+
$42ea in any 6+

Swinney Farvie Syrah 2021

Shiraz/Syrah | West Australia, Australia

Grape first as with all the Swinney wines, there is beauty here. The cooler year offering more energy compared to its 2020 predecessor.  Incredibly complex fruit, beautifully framed with fine layered tannins. The harmony, development and elegance for a wine of such youth is impressive making for a delicious drink now. Looking at the 2018 in a mini-vertical of all Favrie releases the evolution over a few years offered up intriguing secondary development. “The 2021 Farvie Syrah is lighte
$166
$159ea in any 3+
$152ea in any 6+

A Retrospective ...


Rob, Genevieve and I made up the hands-on winemaking team in 2004 at Tintara, McLaren Vale. A crazy vintage that ran 4 months working 100-hour weeks. For Genevieve and I changing shifts by 12 hours every 2 weeks. It was like flying to London and returning every fortnight. Working for big companies can offer broad experience and opportunities. Managing bureaucracy is one. The wall of Standard Operating Procedures, I think, even included how many sheets of loo paper you were allowed according to the type of motion involved!

Yes, there is an incredible volume of OK wine. At the top end, the vineyard resources, oak budget, equipment and direct access to wine minds is significant. The opportunity to experiment, if planned well, can accelerate a vignerons experience.

The 3 of us, in our first and only vintage together, were a solid team, given the opportunity of more time we may have become a dream team.

Every grape grower and maker is passionate and every one of them works ridiculous hours. Some have that rare touch, understanding the little differences between good and great wine. They recognise that if they are lucky, in their lifetime they may make a few great wines.

At some point in time, the pieces fall into place, the wine basics will be there: depth, length & balance.

Then come the keystones: layered, seamless complexity, texture and the understanding of acid tannin complexes. The shape and flow of a wine. Vitality, freshness with development, how to get a wine through puberty (élévage for the French).

Interpretation comes to play, personality or style if you wish. Think the extremes: grape first wines of identity vs super ripe oaky monsters that make finishing a glass a test of endurance.

This is often the point when Balance and Complexity Level II come to play. Not balance in the typical sense of acid, sugar, alcohol, tannin, fruit and often oak. Balance that considers composition of aromas and flavours much like a perfumer would. If we simply look to the fruits, sweet perfumes, highly floral notes a wine can be overwhelming and sickly.

If we allow dirty characters to balance the sweet fruits et al. balance can be achieved, aromas and flavours that ought not exist will be there drawing us into the glass whispering “Drink Me!”.

Think earthiness, forest floor, mushrooms, woody herbs, all arrays of spices, pencil shavings, tea and tobacco. Savoury, bloody, meaty, salty characters, leather, grains of barley, wheat and rye. Notes from lees and solids, even a well placed level of reduction or volatility can all play a part in offering a scent that intrigues. And no, this does not mean overtly faulty wine.

Eventually, wisdom and patience, the understanding of the vineyards you work with, your options in the winery and knowing when to take action or wait.

Successfully combined these elements offer a purity,
a clarity that delights.

If you’ve pursued excellence in wine, you can see these pieces in the glass the twists and turns, the challenges that went into making a wine. For the drinker they might not be able to put their finger on it, but, they’ll feel something when it’s right, an intrigue that draws them into the glass.

No one ever finishes the jigsaw puzzle, some just make it further than others, that’s what makes wine so special, you never get to the end.

With both Swinney and Corymbia, Rob and Genevieve can certainly make out the picture, it shows in the Swinney and Corymbia wines. I reckon the picture is probably Bacchus giving us the middle finger, laughing hysterically saying: “You thought you were close! Go check out your bank account!”

As an aside during, that vintage, the winemaking team was the largest wholesale account for a major cheese supplier south of Adelaide.

Filters & Sorting

Showing all 5 results

Swinney Riesling 2022

Riesling | West Australia, Australia

Riesling and the Great Southern region of WA are a great match. Swinney's covers all of the gaps I find in so many Australian Rieslings. The two big ones: development and vinosity, and texture. Precise with an exceptional line of acid giving it the tension to hold exceptional fruit. A twist of phenolics adding interest and a cleansing finsh. Great gear! The 2022 Riesling was bottled June 2022, and at the time of tasting (August 2022), it had spent only two months in glass. It is piercing
$41
$38ea in any 3+
$35ea in any 6+

Swinney Syrah 2021

Shiraz/Syrah | West Australia, Australia

Beautifully refined with vibrant fresh fruit. Excellent élévage and exceptional mouthfeel. Plush and delicately spiced with a satisfying generosity and balanced twist of whole bunch. "The 2021 Syrah is a haunting, glowing crimson in the glass. I love the tannins here—they're so good that they compel me to look beyond the fruit and to the structure, which is a rare occurrence. There are notes of pink peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorn, and the fruit has purity, clarity and a supple flo
$48
$45ea in any 6+
$42ea in any 12+

Swinney Grenache 2021

Grenache | West Australia, Australia

Vibrant and elegant with fine, long tannins. Flint and slate marry perfume and violets. Gently flowing complex red fruits, with balanced harmonised acid. Layered savoury, earthy, saline. A success with loads of energy! The Swinney Grenache is grown on bush vines, on a northeast-facing slope in the gravels of Frankland River. It is so different from the wines produced in South Australia (McLaren Vale, Barossa, etc). I love the clarity and the bloodiness of the wine in this vintage. The tan
$48
$45ea in any 3+
$42ea in any 6+

Swinney Mourvèdre 2021

Mourvèrdre | West Australia, Australia

Mouvèdre is more often seen as a blending component offering a superb perfume of violets and flowers, structured tannins yet not necessarily the overt fruit making it a perfect fit in a Grenache Shiraz Mouvèdre. Although I didn't get to try this wine the 2021 Swinney Mouvèdre demonstrated why a stand-alone version from this Frankland River version works. Australian wine often has opulent sweet fruit that needs taming, in this instance the fruit gives their Mouvèdre the missing link to making
$48
$45ea in any 3+
$42ea in any 6+

Swinney Farvie Syrah 2021

Shiraz/Syrah | West Australia, Australia

Grape first as with all the Swinney wines, there is beauty here. The cooler year offering more energy compared to its 2020 predecessor.  Incredibly complex fruit, beautifully framed with fine layered tannins. The harmony, development and elegance for a wine of such youth is impressive making for a delicious drink now. Looking at the 2018 in a mini-vertical of all Favrie releases the evolution over a few years offered up intriguing secondary development. “The 2021 Farvie Syrah is lighte
$166
$159ea in any 3+
$152ea in any 6+