What the experts say about Journey Wines
2015 Yarra Valley
Gold Medal - Royal Melbourne Wine Awards 2016.
Australian Financial Review Magazine - 20 Best Wines of 2016.
Balances savoury/foresty characters with positive red cherry and plum fruit to very good effect; the tannins are positive yet silky, lengthening the palate and aftertaste. A very good pinot from a very good vintage. 13% alc.
95 points. Cellaring - 2027. Halliday Magazine, Feb/Mar 2017.
This charming pinot has a savoury, smoky, toasty bouquet of dried herbs, spices and dried cherry with strong oak. Powerful and long, it has concentration and impact, a fruit-sweet middle and supple tannins. Lovely now; worth cellaring.
95 points. Drink next 12 years. Gourmet Traveller Wine, Dec/Jan 2017.
Smoky oak and red cherry. Snappy palate with fine, sandy tannins offset by zingy acid. Lovely ripeness of fruit.
17.5/20. Drink 2016 - 2020. Richard Hemming - www.jancisrobinson.com. 6 January 2017.
Bright, medium to full red/purple colour, youthful and vibrant looking. The aromas are of dried herbs, spices and dried cherry, oak making a fairly strong contribution. Smoky, savoury and toasty. A powerful, long-flavoured wine of good concentration and impact. Fruit-sweet middle; ample smooth tannins. It's loaded with charm. Very good, and worth cellaring.
95 points. Drink 2016 - 2028. Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com. 12 August 2016.
It's Upper Yarra pinot noir that sees whole bunches, mostly older oak barrels, and gets up close and personal with winemaker Damian North. These tend to be very enjoyable wines.
Wonderful perfume here, where so many great pinot noirs get their extra mojo. Fennel, clove, red berry and red cherry, sniff of cranberry and maraschino; lots going on. Palate is chewy, fine, spreads well in the palate, feels sweet-sour, lightly herbal, glides into a fine, spicy, mellow finish. It's one of those pinots that feels effortless but likewise elegant, bright in fruit character, shiny and fun to drink. It's great.
93 points. Drink 2016 - 2022. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front. 28 June 2016.
2014 Yarra Valley
Medium yellow colour with a complex bouquet, which has reductive elements as well as grapefruit and citrus early-harvested fruit and sensitively handled oak adding toasty notes. It's medium-bodied and intense, with a salty, lemony, minerals aftertaste. Its tense, nervy, tight palate would make a good food wine.
95 points. Drink 2016 - 2024. Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com. 13th October, 2016.
From three distinguished parts of the Yarra Valley, whole-bunch pressed, 25% fermented in new puncheons from leading coopers, the balance in new puncheons and barriques on lees (with some stirring), matured for 10 months.
This is a powerful chardonnay with layers of white peach fruit interleaved with grapefruit. It carries this off with panache.
95 points. Drink by 2026. Halliday Wine Companion 2017.
A lighter-weighted cool-grown style of shiraz, and utterly delicious. Colour is deep, bright purple-red; aromas floral and violet, spice and discreet oak nuances. Tannins are light and soft, the palate long and satisfying. Its drinkability is paramount.
95 points. Drink next 16 years. Gourmet Traveller Wine, Feb/Mar 2017.
Deepish purple/red colour, youthful and bright. The bouquet is floral and lifted with violet, spice and oak aromas, while the palate is light to medium-bodied and leanish with soft, light tannins and good length. A delicious lighter, cool-climate style shiraz. It has terrific drinkability.
95 points. Drink 2016 - 2032. Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com. 29 September 2016.
Spice, cedary oak and a plum/blackberry melange start the journey on the bouquet; the palate is intense and focused on the same path, with highlights of licorice and spice. Despite its intensity it is elegant and medium-bodied. 13.5% alc.
96 points. Drink to 2044. Halliday Wine Companion 2017.
Damian North has good runs on the board for his carefully made, regional selection of wines. I often think of him more in the pinot noir/chardonnay zone, but here, a cracking Heathcote shiraz.
It's busy with red currant, forest berry jam and sweet spice scents, and though the wine is sweet in a way, it's built on crisp, refreshing acidity and layers of fine spice. Hence, the wine is medium weight, bouncy and frisky, playful and easy to drink. It's a soft roll of flavoursome fruit, kissed gently with mixed spice. Nice one.
92 points. Drink 2016 - 2023. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front. 22 August 2016.
2014 Yarra Valley
The hue is bright and full, the red plum fruit aromas gaining considerable pace and drive on the impressively long palate; the whole bunch component has given the wine a savoury dressing that is a perfect foil for fruit and spice to come with more age. I really like this. 12.5% alc.
95 points. Cellaring - 2028. Halliday Magazine, Dec/Jan 2016.
Medium to light red colour with a tinge of purple. The bouquet is complex and fragrant, layered and attractive, with a good balance of fruit, oak, forestry and other aromatics. Good line and length in a subtler style. A very stylish, elegant, finer style.
92 points. Drink 2015 - 2022. Huon Hooke, 21/10/2015.
Succulent and sappy with hints of fruit sweetness poking through in all the right places. Cherry, raspberry and deeper undercurrents of plum are the main primary fruit flavours that are most obvious here, yet underneath these there is a very pleasant damp soil character that adds interest and a more savoury undertone. As is the case in the Chardonnay, strong supporting acid adds liveliness and youthfulness to the palate with a definite creaminess to the texture of the wine. A new addition to our very strong Pinot Noir stocks and a wine that we believe represents extremely good value drinking at the price-point.
Ches Cook - Five Way Cellars, Sydney. Dec 15.
2013 Yarra Valley
Damian North made this from fruit sourced in two vineyards, one in Yelingbo and one in Gruyere. Introvert - the sort of wine that would benefit from decanting - but there is no doubting the ambition and sincerity of intent. Enough ripe fruit to counterbalance the structure and medium acidity. This should age well. Alcohol 13.5%
16.5+/20. Drink 2016 - 2020. Jancis Robinson - www.jancisrobinson.com. 17 February 2016.
Whole bunch-pressed, wild yeast-fermented in French oak (25% new), mlf prevented, with 10 months maturation, briefly stirred. A tightly wrought style with a strong minerally acid backbone, and will develop slowly, right now not ready to do business - but don't despair.
93 points. Drink by 2025. Halliday Wine Companion 2016.
A very nicely balanced wine in a medium-bodied context. Ripeness of fruit appears to be spot-on and can be attributed to astute vineyard management and perfect accuracy with picking dates. Lots of freshness here with strong natural acidity, small amounts of oak (only 25% new) and no use of malolactic fermentation meaning that the wine is quite lively and bright with zingy youthfulness. Green apple and white peach dominate the palate whilst there is some nutty savouriness towards the back which is particularly attractive and rounds the wine out very well.
Ches Cook - Five Way Cellars, Sydney. Dec 15.
Manages to combine complexity and power with elegance and balance; a compote of black fruit flavours is laced with licorice, a touch of tar, and authoritative tannins. Will be very long-lived, kicking more goals along the way. 13.5% alc.
96 points. Drink to 2043. Halliday Wine Companion 2016.
The second release of a shiraz under the Journey Wines name. Grown in the Heathcote region.
Juicy and well-balanced with peppercorn, plum and blackberry notes doing the bulk of the talking. There's a vague suggestion of complexing game and a satiny slip of cedary oak. Not a foot wrong.
93 points. Drink 2016 - 2023. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front. 23 February 2015.
2013 Yarra Valley
Very pretty Pinot from new producer Damian North. No shortage of winning ripe fruit but with a savoury casing and no obvious sweetness nor excess alcohol. Great Balance.
16.5/20. Drink 2015 - 2018. Jancis Robinson - www.jancisrobinson.con. 23 April 2015.
Great to see an affordable Yarra flagship. A nicely poised, fragrant and refreshingly priced style with a core of red cherry fruit and rose petal aromas. It's gentle and silky in structure with fine tannins carrying a long and even finish. 13.0%
93 points. $34. Tyson Stelzer - WBM100. Nov 2014.
This is the first time I’ve seen this blend of three Yarra vineyards, and I’m impressed with its poise, fragrance and refreshing price. A core of red cherry fruit and rose petal aromas denote a gentle and silky style of finely structured tannins, carrying the finish long and even.
93 points. Drink 2014-2018. Tyson Stelzer - tysonstelzer.com
Damian North has access to some very good Yarra Valley fruit and has made a splendidly accessible pinot noir in 2013, with dark berry notes, length and depth and the fruit shining through despite the use of 25% new French barriques. A former sommelier who has worked in Oregon, as well as at TarraWarra Estate and Leeuwin Estate, his wines are blossoming with each vintage and this pinot from a warm, dry vintage is positively hedonistic with a beautiful balance between the bright fruit, spice and earthiness. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on your tongue - a thing of beauty. The empty bottle gave away how much I enjoyed this.
Winsor Dobbin - Winsor's Choice. September 27, 2014
From three Upper Yarra vineyards, wild yeasts, open-fermented with 20% whole bunches, 9 months in French barriques (25% new).
Light, clear red-purple; a very well made pinot, the bouquet fragrant, the palate seductively supple and long, red fruits dominant until a pleasing savoury echo of the whole bunches on the finish. 13.0% alc.
95 points. Cellaring - 2022. James Halliday's Wine Companion Magazine, Oct/Nov 2014.
Full, bright red/purple colour. Red and dark cherry aromas, slightly elusive but appealing and clean. The palate is sweet-fruited and soft, deliciously ripe and dark cherried, with a degree of succulence. The fruit is beautifully framed. It finishes with soft tannins and oodles of charm.
93 points. Drink 2014 - 2022. Huon Hooke, 24/08/2014.
Upper Yarra pinot noir from Yellingbo and Woori Yallock. 20% whole bunches. 25% new oak.
It creeps up on you. The fruit is up-front and appealing from the moment of opening, all jubey and cranberries and eager to please. Accordingly, at first, I thought it was fruit sweet, simple, highly enjoyable and not much more - but as I made my way through a couple of glasses, the tannin started to build, the spice started to lift, and the wine generally started to feel more and more complete. It's good now but this suggests it has a future.
92+ points. Drink 2015 - 2020+. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front. 25 June 2014.
Sourced from two Upper Yarra Valley vineyards; Tibooburra in Yellingbo and Lone Star Creek in Woori Yallock. 20% whole bunches. Winemaker Damian North continues to slot goals.
A murmur of cologne like musk. Red jelly, dark cherries and cola. A little plum but all the generosity is balanced by baked rhubarb, beetroot and pine. Very silken with delicate porcelain acidity and a nudge of smudged tannin which exerts more force than you at first think. Herbs, twigs and mixed spice offer themselves as a delayed coda. I think this may well pay dividends if cellared over the medium-term.
92+ points. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, June 23, 2014.
Deep red colour with purple tints. Smoky, earthy and pepper aromas, the palate intense and mouth filling, elegant and superbly balanced. The palate and finish are refreshing because of the acidity. A very elegant medium-bodied shiraz of real class. Delicious drinking.
92 points. Drink 2014 - 2022. Huon Hooke, 4/4/2014.
Damian North's journey is a bit like that of the Andalusian shepherd - Santiago - in Paulo Choelho's allegorical novel, The Alchemist. A series of recurring dreams convince Santiago to go in search of his wealth. He travels to many lands and learns many lessons only to discover that his treasure was in his back yard all along. The rub, of course, is that Santiago could not have known that, had he stayed at home. Replace treasure with wine and this is pretty much what Damian North did. Damian first made wine in the Yarra Valley before following his passions to other countries. After years away, Damian returned to the Yarra Valley to make wines under his own label.
This is an elegant medium-bodied wine, offering a complex yet charming nose with lovely spices, a hint of pepper and dar and brooding berry fruits. The palate is fine and balanced and just like the Alchemist, this wine has a very memorable ending.
Andrea Frost, New Ruby Press, June 9 2014.
Journey Wines is Damian North, a young, Yarra Valley based winemaker. This elegant, refined, classy shiraz has smoky, earthy, peppery aromas and a beautifully balanced medium-bodied palate. Bright colour, gentle tannins, refreshing acidity and great drinkability. Now to 2022. 13.5 per cent alcohol.
92/100. Huon Hooke, SMH Good Food, 27 May 2014.
From a vineyard at Colbinabbin on the greenstone soil of Mt Camel. Vivid purple-crimson, the aromas of red blossom/flowers and spiced cherries establishes the flavour spectrum for an extremely elegant and vibrant medium-bodied palate, complexed by French oak and gossamer tannins. 13.5% alc.
96 points. Drink by 2032. James Halliday Australian Wine Companion, 9 April 2014.
Well-travelled former Sydney sommelier turned winemaker Damian North is making some lovely wines under his Journey label and while this is not cheap, it is an outstanding cooler-climate shiraz from a very good vintage.
This is a complex, elegant wine with lovely balance and sensible alcohol levels (13.5%).
You'll find dark fruit, chocolate and spice notes and impressively integrated oak. Lovely stuff.
Winsor Dobbin, Ciao Magazine. 3 March 2014.
From Greenstone/Colbinabbin vineyard in northern Heathcote. Some whole bunches. Seventeen days on skins. 33% new French oak. Bottled unfined.
It's a perfectly balanced wine. It also boasts more charm than breadth, in that its flavours are not particularly heavy or thick - it's medium weight at most - but it has many quality cues and is accessible besides. Flavours of blackberry, clove, peppercorn, some pepper spice, creamy oak, chalk and cherry. Fine-but-firm tannin, extending back through the palate. This will mature beautifully.
95 points. Drink 2016 - 2026+. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front. 24 Janurary 2014.
The journey takes winemaker Damian North to Colbinabbin in Heathcote for this inaugural Shiraz. Once again, the end result impresses. This is fast becoming a label to watch. Indigenous yeasts, 33% new French barriques and 20% whole bunch. Thoroughly regional, it makes the most of a terrific vintage.
Vivid purple and black fruits with a little gum leaf. Those whole bunches lift the perfume and add a savoury dimension to sweet berry and plum flavours. A suggestion of chargrilled meats and a touch of flint. Lovely layered tannins - some powdery, some grainy and some slightly stalky. A hint of saline minerality. Intense but not at all heavy. No alcohol heat that I can discern. Notable extension. Hard to fault.
92 points. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, January 20, 2014.
2012 Yarra Valley
Hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, wild yeast fermentation in 25% new French puncheons, 75% used barriques (all French); 0% mlf, but stirred on lees for 12 months. The extensive lees contact has led to complexity and a creamy mouthfeel, but slightly diminished the freshness of the wine, its stone fruit, not grapefruit to the fore.
93 points. Drink by 2019. James Halliday Australian Wine Companion, 29 July 2013.
The 2011 chardonnay was an impressive debut from this new Yarra Valley producer. This 2012 is in the same class. Grown on two sites, one at Gruyere in the Yarra and the other at Yellingbo in the Upper Yarra. Both vineyards planted in the mid 1990's.
The 2012 Yarra vintage will provide many highlights. This is one of them. It's a wine of taut composure. Lemon, citrus blossom, grapefruit, green straw. Delicious whisper of lactose. It feels confident in the mouth. Texture and zip. Feels uncompromised and cool. Nothing showy about it. All it needs is another couple of years in a cool dark place for it to really clear its throat.
93+ Points. Drink 2015-2020. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, May 18, 2013.
The 2011 Journey Wines Chardonnay was a winner and the follow-up is every bit as good. It’s more expressive aromatically and certainly able to be enjoyed right now – although it has the acid structure, intensity, balance and length to handle five years in a cool cellar. Sourced from two sites; Gruyere and Yellingbo in the upper Yarra Valley. Fermented with wild yeast in 25% new French oak puncheons and older French barriques. No malolactic allowed, regular battonage..
Smells inviting. Nectarine, light honeysuckle notes, sourdough, smoked almonds, hazelnuts and lemon. It’s taut and possesses terrific focus and shape in the mouth. The palate adds adult bitterness in the form of grapefruit and pith. Ample flavour. Plenty of woodspice too. Tangy and refreshing on the finish. Tempted to go a point higher here but will be conservative. Definitely recommended buying though.
92 Very Good. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, May 11, 2013.
2012 Yarra Valley
From two Upper Yarra vineyards; 80% destemmed, 20% whole bunches; 10% juice runoff, then to French barriques (25% new) for 9 months. Light but brilliant purple-crimson; an exceptionally fragrant and deliciously juicy pinot with wild strawberry, red cherry and even raspberry fruit, silky tannins and very good length. 12.5% alc.
94 points. Cellaring - 2020. James Halliday's Wine Companion Magazine, Dec 2013/Jan 2014.
This sexy pinot noir from the exceptional 2012 vintage is, well, funky. It has a silky texture with dark-cherry, earthy, gamey aromas and flavours to the fore.
Mike Bennie, Sunday Style, July 21, 2013.
Upper Yarra Pinot Noir, 20% whole bunches, wild yeast, 25% new oak.
Great texture. Gritty and satiny at once. Took a good few hours to open up, as a red wine this young probably should, but then revealed itself as a wine of weight, structure and length. Dried leaves, solid red cherry and plum, sap and smoky, twiggy notes. Everything sits in excellent place here. A quality release.
93 Points. Drink 2015-2020+. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, May 18, 2013.
Sommelier turned winemaker Damian North is turning out some lovely gear at the moment - and this is only the second year the Journey Wines label has been up and running. With a background that includes stints at TarraWarra, Leeuwin Estate and some time in Oregon perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising. The 2012 Pinot incorporates 20% whole bunches and is wild fermented. It sees 25% new oak (French barriques). All Upper Yarra Valley fruit.
Given time the stalky, sappy vegetal whole bunch notes acclimatise and provide a lifted floral and smoky perfume which is the perfect foil to the feline fruit flavours. High notes of strawberry and cherry with a bass line of plum and loganberries. Pepper, pastrami and earth add even more complexity and depth. Fine acidity moves seamlessly into textured tannin on a medium-bodied palate. Slinky and long. Will perform well over the next five years at least.
93 Very Good. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, May 16, 2013.
2011 Yarra Valley
Striking straw-green, the cool vintage produced many top quality chardonnays from the Yarra Valley, this is no exception, with its purity of varietal flavour, and hallmark regional line and length. Will develop with extreme grace.
93 points. Cellaring - 2020. James Halliday's Wine Companion Magazine, Dec 2012/Jan2013.
The more impressive of the two 2011 Journey Wines releases and while it's drinking well now, the future looks bright. Despite the wet year, it has a sunny disposition about it. Finesse is well-balanced by flavour and it's superbly structured with great flow.
Nectarines, lemons and almonds take centre stage whilst large format French oak puncheons contribute to a gentle textural caress which sheathes the steely acidity at its heart. Battonage plays its part too. Currently leans more towards linearity and intensity but should fill out and gain complexity with time. Real penetration on the finish. An impressively put together wine.
92+ Very Good. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, October 7, 2012.
The 2011 Journey Wines Chardonnay comes from two vineyards, one at Yellingbo in the Upper Yarra Valley, the other at Gruyere. The fruit is whole-bunch pressed and fermented in a combination of new French 500-litre puncheons and older French barriques, and undergoes battonage every couple of weeks until bottling.
The result is a taut and tangy wine with a beautifully restrained ripple of richness at its core. The nose offers up aromas of preserved lemon, nougat and the faintest suggestion of struck match. In the mouth it's bright and lively, elegantly tapered and tingling with nervy acidity.
Nick Ryan, Gourmet Traveller WINE, October/November 2012.
Damian North is the man behind new Yarra Valley endeavour Journey Wines. And it has indeed been quite a wine journey. Sommelier at Tetsuya’s back in the good old days when it was at Rozelle in Sydney; sommelier at Pier at Rose Bay; assistant winemaker at TarraWarra Estate; a few years living in Oregon in the US while he worked at the Benton-Lane winery; and a five year winemaking stint at Leeuwin Estate. Fair to guess that he has the making of pinot noir and chardonnay covered. He’s now set out on his own – back where his winemaking duties started, in the Yarra.
This chardonnay was grown on the Tibooburra vineyard at Yellingbo in the Upper Yarra and on the Briarty Hill vineyard at Gruyere. It’s a 2011 wine all over. Narrow hips and shoulders but a bright face of flavour. Nectarines, lemon curd, spicy/creamy oak and smoky apple skins. Textural through the finish. Needs time but there is enough here to suggest patience will reward.
92+ Points. Drink 2014-2018. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, June 2012.
2011 Yarra Valley
From Sydney based Sommelier to assistant winemaker at TarraWarra, followed by a few vintages exploring Pinot Noir in Oregon before five years as winemaker for Leeuwin Estate - Damian North has certainly made his way around the traps. His appropriately named 'Journey Wines' label immediately impresses with a sense of confidence that isn't always apparent in a set of first releases. The wines themselves are made at the Medhurst Winery in the Yarra Valley
This Pinot is sourced from two vineyards in the cool Upper Yarra. It's light and delicate in style as befits its sites and the vintage in which it was produced. Effusive and fragrant aromas of red cherries, strawberries, lavender and raspberry with a pinch of cinnamon and a sprinkle of rose-water. Flavours follow in due course; red fruits; rhubarb, sweet spice and sap. Glassy acidity is becoming and firm, stalky feeling tannin features strongly, adding form and texture. There's not a lot of 2011 mulch-like character here and more depth than I've seen from many Yarra Pinots conceived in that year. Mind you, it's not really about depth, power or intensity. A pretty wine that manages to avoid looking preppy. Much promise.
91 Good - Very Good. Jeremy Pringle, Wine Will Eat Itself, October 7, 2012.
The 2011 Journey Wines Pinot Noir also comes from sites in the Upper Yarra, is open-fermented with a larger percentage of whole berries, and sees nine months in a combination of new and old French barriques.
It's a fresh, crunchy and tensile wine, rippling with cherry skin, rhubarb, raspberry pip and rubbed-lavender characters. It's tight and fine in the mouth, juicy and energetic. It's a wine that shows a real understanding of the place from where it comes.
Nick Ryan, Gourmet Traveller WINE, October/November 2012.
This was sourced from two Upper Yarra vineyards and made by Damian North. It's a delicate, hauntingly beautiful pinot with red-cherry, strawberry and raspberry aromas and a hint of leather. Low in alcohol as befits the season, it's a superb lighter-style pinot. Now to 2017. 12.5 per cent alcohol.
92/100. Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/09/2012.
Pale colour, as with many pinots from this very wet vintage: however, it is a very pretty wine, with a perfumed cherry/strawberry bouquet, then strawberry and cream flavours run through to the finish. Likely to give the most pleasure over the next few years, but could surprise with its tenacity.
90 points. James Halliday, 19 Sep 2012.
Much has been said about the cool, wet, 2011 vintage in the Yarra Valley, for Pinot Noir in the right hands it has meant delicate, feminine and perfumed examples and this little number is no exception. Fabulous value, fabulous drinking, get on board.
Aidan Raftery, Europa Cellars, August 2012.