2010 Topper’s Mountain Barbera

toppers barberaFor the uninitiated, Topper’s Mountain are situated in the New England wine region on the border of New South Wales and Queensland. They’re engaged in a lot of different projects at the moment, and what’s more they are carrying them out well. In the years to come I would expect their portfolio to shrink somewhat and the quality to increase and become more stable. Having said that, there’s a great deal of joy and excitement that results from participating in the formative stages of their evolution.

This is a particularly ripe Barbera and I can’t help but feel that its dynamic range is clipped as a result of leaving the grapes to hang for as long as they have. The grape’s natural levels of acidity are still present, if somewhat lower in the mix than many of us might be use to. Fruit flavour leans toward black brambly berries and the dried herb character bleeds into a pleasing aniseedy pastis dimension. It just sits a little flat at the end of the day but it’s a good wine. 88

Region: New England
Alcohol: 14.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $32
Tasted: August 2013


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6 Responses to 2010 Topper’s Mountain Barbera

  1. Robert M says:

    and that’s a big 14.9 ABV too!

  2. Yes, I was surprised after taking my notes to see the ABV that high. It tastes, feels and smells ripe but I have to say it carries 14.9% pretty well. I just suspect it would be a better wine if it didn’t have to.

  3. Mark Kirkby says:

    Hi Jeremy & Robert M, this one surprised me as well! We wanted to pick this Barbera earlier; the issue was that acid measured in fruit samples was very high, TA>10g/L, so I was leaving the fruit out for the acid levels to fall a bit. As it turns out, the pH meter was giving me high readings for some (unresolved) reason (even though calibrations said it was OK). I’ve since got a new pH meter!! Vital statistics in the winery at harvest were 14.9Be, 3.66pH & 6.8TA.
    More generally, high acid levels at picking is a pretty regular situation for Topper’s Mountain, probably due to our cool ripening period (March-April for most reds). As I’ve learnt more about the terroir, it has become apparent that a large proportion of the acid is malic acid that is converted during malo fermentation. Thus I’m now happier to pick earlier at lower baume & the acid is by-an-large sorted out during malo. For example, 2013 vintage Barbera was picked on 22Mar (3 days earlier than this 2010) at 13.5Be, 3.2pH & more than 12.0TA (Mike Hayes’ pH meter only reads to 12g/L TA). As you can see the pH is more like a white wine!!

  4. Thanks Mark, I believe that provides us all with a much clearer perspective on the wine in question…and perhaps a little insight into the viticultural side of Topper’s Mountain. I had a vague notion that you may have been seeking lower acid – something I can understand – but the detail paints a more complete picture. Much appreciated input.


  5. Tom Belford says:

    I was involved in making a Barbera from the Pyrenees in Victoria from the 2010 vintage, enormous acidity, something like 12g/L at harvest but resolved itself once it was all said and done post malo and whatnot. It smelt like grape hubba-bubba the day it was picked, and smelt like grape hubba-bubba the last time I smelt it in late 2010. Everyone wanted to talk about its maturation and development, but for me it was rock solid grape hubba-bubba. I haven’t thought about that wine for a long time. I wonder what ever happened to it, it was destined to get drank, I hope it did.

  6. Hopefully so. Would have been a difficult wine to review. You can only say so much about grape hubba-bubba flavours whether they’re good or bad ;)

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