This is a new label created by David Fesq of the well-known Sydney wine family, and the wines are made at Lethbridge Estate in the Geelong region from locally grown grapes.
The new releases (the second under this label), a white, a rose and a red are attractively packaged in the no expense spared sense. All are in heavy bottles, the rose and the white capped under Stelvin “lux” and the red under cork, finished with a dab of white wax. The labels are a compelling read, and show a deal of thought.
Between Five Bells Geelong Rose 2011 is mostly Shiraz, a pale onion skin verging on salmon pink hue. Reveals a shyly perfumed nose followed by a dry, persistent and complex palate with gentle blackberry fruit held on course by some sinewy tannins. This is a seriously interesting Rose, and it came alive with pan seared salmon.
Between Five Bells White Wine 2011 comprises Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Meuniere. Pale green tinged colour. Nose and palate deliver nectarine and white peach on a fresh crisp spicy chassis; this is a complex wine which transcends the sum of its parts, no one variety or winemaking input dominating. The label recommends you drink it now, and while I wouldn’t disagree, the balance and freshness of the wine will hold well for a few years yet.
Between Five Bells Red Wine 2011 is mostly Shiraz. Medium colour, the nose suggests game and some blackberry and these are delivered along with sinewy, chewy tannins, some spicy plum flavours. This is the thinking drinker’s Shiraz, and all the better for that. Again the label recommends early consumption, but the wine will improve short term and provide interesting drinking over the next five years.
These wines are impressive and I sense there has been a lot of thought behind them. They are not of the main stream. They are about complexity rather than fruit or oak or a combination of those.
The name chosen for these wines comes from Kenneth Slessor’s poem ‘Five Bells’ written in memory the poet’s friend Joe Lynch, who drowned in Sydney Harbour in 1927. The poem was published about ten years after Joe’s death and it is not simply an elegy. It ponders many complex themes, not least of which is the death of a friend whose life was short, somewhat unfulfilled and untidy to say the least.
A footnote in history, all that remains of Joe Lynch, whose body was never found, recounts that he was a somewhat talented cartoonist (and violinist) who died trying to outswim a ferry in the middle of Sydney Harbour after a big night out. A true Irish Australian larrikin, he is memorialised in one of Australia’s great poems, and his image remains in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens as the model for the bronze cast sculpture ‘The Satyr’, the work of his brother Guy Lynch.
‘Five Bells’ is a very complex poem, much deeper than its apparent subject matter; these wines from Between Five Bells with their emphasis on complexity rather than obvious fruit characters demand attention in the same way.