First vines planted
We planted our ‘Contour Block’ just ten years ago but it is situated at the very site where the first selector, W.H. McIntosh, planted his vineyard. The land still bears the imprint of this early vineyard with a series of contours running across the face of the sloping hill. When we came to ‘re-plant’ this block we discovered some of the finest soils on the whole property.
Looking at the Mount Langi Ghiran vineyard today it is hard to believe that it started out as a scrub block with a scattering of tin sheds. In 1963 an Italian immigrant family, the Fratins, had dreams of creating a little piece of Veneto here in Australia. They worked hard at clearing the land to make way for their vines and chestnuts. Finally, Don, Lino and Serge Fratin replanted the first vines on Mount Langi Ghiran and in doing so, created the iconic “Langi” Old Block Shiraz.
The brothers continued planting vines, adding Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Merlot and Cabernet Franc however, not satisfied with just grapes they planted chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and some fruit trees. The grapes were sold to the Seppelts winery in Great Western with just a little kept back for their own purposes. The cellar they built into the side of the hill was a feast for the senses, the rafters sagging with salami, and other smallgoods, and stillage racks holding the new vintage’s wines in barrel.
It didn’t take long for the Fratin brothers to make and produce wine under their own label but after some early success they had a misfire with the 1980 vintage and decided they needed the services of a consultant. They were fortunate to have at their doorstep one of the best consultants available at the time, Trevor Mast. Trevor was steadily gaining in reputation, talented and energetic; he was the right man in the right place for the Fratins 1981 vintage.
No more than six years later Trevor and his wife Sandra purchased Mount Langi Ghiran with Ian Menzies. A turning point for Mount Langi Ghiran, Trevor had a vision for a cool-climate Shiraz, before cool—climate was in vogue, and so the iconic Langi Shiraz was just around the corner.
Iconic Cool Climate Shiraz
In 1996, the ’94 vintage of Langi Shiraz received international acknowledgement when it appeared on the cover of Wine Spectator next to Penfolds Grange and Henschke’s Mount Edelstone Shiraz, truly setting the benchmark for Australian cool- climate Shiraz. A remarkable vintage, it was a representation of the wine coming out of Mount Langi Ghiran and it secured Mount Langi Ghiran’s place in the Australian Wine Industry.
Consistently producing outstanding, elegant wines throughout the late eighties and nineties earned the Langi Shiraz a place on the Langton’s classification. Langton’s Classification of Australian wine is the paramount form guide to Australia’s finest wines. Since the Langi Shiraz first featured in Langton’s Classification it has remained in the guide and is presented in the Excellent category.
The Rathbone Family
After 15 years of running flat out to build the name of Mount Langi Ghiran, Trevor knew it was time for the brand to go to the next level. At the same time the Rathbone family were formulating a strategy for a new wine business. This model was to focus on wineries with the potential for excellence in a specific varietal and located in only premium regions, Yering Station in the Yarra Valley was the first piece in their strategy and in late 2002 Mount Langi Ghiran became the perfect next piece. Trevor stayed on as head winemaker and Dan Buckle joined his winemaking team.
In 2004, Trevor took a step back and Dan Buckle became the chief winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran. Dan, who had worked alongside industry great James Halliday, and had five years’ experience at Yering Station under his belt was a coup for Mount Langi Ghiran. He had a family background in the wine industry and Mount Langi Ghiran was excited to see what he would produce.
Trevor remained at Mount Langi Ghiran until 2006; it was at this time that Trevor was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. A sad time for Mount Langi Ghiran, Trevor not only established Mount Langi Ghiran as a respected producer of cool-climate Shiraz in the Australia but it was his exceptional winemaking skills and vision that propelled Mount Langi Ghiran to international recognition. Sadly, Trevor passed away in 2012 after tirelessly battling his condition. He was a true inspiration and he leaves behind a legacy at Mount Langi Ghiran the current team continues to uphold and aspire to, always striving to produce wines of the highest quality.
Recent & coming days
After 8 years with Langi, Dan Buckle decided to head back to the Yarra Valley and Kate Petering who joined the winemaking team in 2006 was appointed Chief Winemaker. With extensive knowledge and winemaking experience in the region and overseas, it was fitting for Kate to continue the tradition of producing quality wines.
In 2014 Mount Langi Ghiran were very lucky to have Ben Haines join the Langi team as Chief Winemaker. Ben, whose talent, passion and fascination with wine precedes him, is a very refreshing addition to the Mount Langi Ghiran team. His enthusiasm for wine, particularly Rhone varietals, is matched only by his talent. His work has taken him all across Australia, with work in Nagambie at Mitchelton Wines for four years. Ben has worked at Yering Station winery for three years and is now stretching his wings in the Mount Langi Ghiran winery.