Burton McMahon a Sense of Place
Thursday, July 16, 2020 in News
Burton McMahon a Sense of Place
Burton McMahon for Langton’s The Yarra Valley collaboration between Dylan McMahon of Yarra Valley’s Seville Estate and Matt Burton of Gundog Estate focused understanding and capturing a sense of place. Explore our portfolio of these wines.
Forged during work and travels across wine regions of France, Burton McMahon is defined by friendship, an adoration of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and a reverence for top vineyards, as much as strong winemaking chops. The first vintage under the Burton McMahon banner was 2012, with the continuum steeped in an innate comprehension that fine wines hail from great sites, good farming and assiduous attention to detail..
‘fine wines hail from great sites...’
This detail is borne of the experience and kinship of those at the helm.
Dylan McMahon boasts a familial pedigree hewn of Yarra Valley history like few others. His grandfather, Dr Peter McMahon, planted the first vines at Seville Estate—long an iconic Yarra address—in 1972. Dylan has served as the Estate’s chief winemaker since 2004, following extensive experience in France, from Burgundy to Alsace, where he befriended Matt. Seville Estate was also lauded as the Winery of the Year of 2019 in the Halliday Wine Companion.
Gundog is based in the Hunter Valley and Canberra District respectively, with two cellar doors. Matt Burton established the winery in 2011 after experience in the United States, Alsace and at Coldstream Hills. It was latter where his understanding of the Yarra Valley—and its idiosyncrasies—proved solid grounding for the Burton McMahon project, melding effortlessly with Dylan’s homegrown nous. Upon reflection, 2011 was a portentous year that augured well for future success. Outstanding in the Hunter, 2011 was a challenging vintage for virtually every other wine region in the country.
Gundog Estate has consistently been awarded the prestigious Halliday Five-Star winery rating, while in 2010, Halliday recognised Matt as the ‘Hunter Valley’s Rising Star.’ Affirming a stellar reputation, Matt was a finalist for Winemaker of the Year at the Hunter Wine Industry Awards.
‘a car full of booze and cheese...’
While Dylan and Matt studied together at Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga, it was while working at nearby wineries in Alsace that they became true friends. This led to renting a small Citröen and traipsing from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley, to the Northern Rhône. As they put it, they had a car ‘full of booze and cheese’, while learning about the ‘right varieties planted in the right sites.’
Matt’s experience at Coldstream Hills in 2003, with Dylan up the road at Seville Estate, strengthened the friendship further. Time in the Yarra facilitated an intimate understanding of site specifics across the region’s nooks and crannies.
‘The wines are minimally messed with...’
Speaking to Dylan and Matt, they proclaimed their philosophy as one of ‘less is more’, nevertheless eschewing an implacable lo-fi approach in order to craft ‘expressive wines that are technically correct, reflect site and have the capacity to age.’ The wines are minimally messed with: fermented under the aegis of ambient yeast, judiciously fined, filtered and oaked.
While Matt and Dylan’s obsession is with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they revealed that there were no initial constraints as to what varieties they would craft together. In fact, they first made a Pinot Noir from Gippsland. However, it was Matt’s two cellar doors and strong customer base, together with an inquisitive winery membership network, eager to taste Pinot Noir from the finest sites, that intuitively shaped Burton McMahon as a Yarra-centric operation. At least for the time being. Aside from an ardent fidelity to Victorian regions, Burton McMahon’s future is open.
The Langton’s buying team has created an offer to provide insight into the philosophy of each estate while articulating the Burton McMahon vineyards and their distinctive wines when these philosophies meld.
For example, the Georgia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, sappy and strident as it glides across the mouth, is a meld of Dijon clones defined by meagre grey sands atop red loams. A challenging site that is cool and far from vigorous, the vineyard yields wines that are transparent and yet, intensely flavoured with red crunchy fruit aspersions framed by moreish tannins. In contrast, the Syme on Yarra Vineyard yields Pinot Noir as a mono-clonal expression across a more fecund, warmer site. The adage, an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’, befits a wine that is darker of fruit tones and more structured, yet defined nevertheless by a fealty to Pinot Noir’s elegant disposition.