Mac Forbes Gruyere Syrah 2010

  • 96 points, Nick Stock
  • Just coming out of its shell. This is a glorious cool climate Shiraz
  • Sourced from a premium private cellar
  • 1 or more bottles
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  • Nick Stock
    96 points
  • James Halliday
    93 points

Editors notes

A pleasant surprise when a group of us landed at Mac’s Graceburn Wine Room. They no longer make this wine because the vineyard is no longer available, what a shame! This wine looks like it is just coming out of its shell. Dark berries, prunes, cloves, pepper, a whiff of charred oak. The palate was bold and lively, it offers fruit sweetness up front and savoury and earthy notes as it travels along. It grew in the glass and my last sip was the best. Hence having to get more and share it with you. This wine is still a pup and in a good cellar will reward another 7-15 years. I’d pair this with our homemade roo sausage rolls.

Mac Forbes grew up in the Yarra Valley but set off to see the wine making world. Working in France, Italy, Australia, Portugal and Mount Mary in the Yarra. In 2004 when he returned home he was convinced that Australia was capable of making sub-regional and site specific wines and that, with a bit of hard work, the humble Yarra Valley could be making some amazing terroir driven wines. We don’t have the benefit of bored Cistercian monks, but we do have Mac.
In the search for perfect site expression Mac is not scared to push boundaries and experiment. Mostly he uses Pinot Noir to do a tour of Upper and Lower Yarra sub regions. What comes through is the diversity of styles within a concentrated area, also that Mac is a pretty darn good winemaker who is refining his craft and improving all the time.


Tasting Profile

  • Light (Light)
    Full (Full)
  • Low Tannin (Low Tannin)
    Tannic (Tannic)
  • Sweet (Sweet)
    Dry (Dry)
  • Low Acidity (Low Acidity)
    High Acidity (High Acidity)
  • Aroma
  • Palate

Food Pairings

  • Fish
  • Game
  • Poultry

Critic Scores & reviews

  • Nick Stock

    "The grapes for Mac's single 2010 Syrah come from a stunning site in the Yarra Valley owned by the Bisley family. This is a north-facing, dry-grown site with wonderful soils. This vineyard also grows the highly expressive Bordeaux varieties that go into Mac's beautiful "Hugh" blend. This is a breakout release of Syrah for the Mac Forbesmac forbes team as the review below makes clear. The fruit was fermented in small batches ranging between 0.5 to 1.5 tonnes and the ferments were hand plunged. The time on skins varied between 7 and 21 days. After pressing and an overnight settle, the wine was run into a mixture of barriques and puncheons, 40% of which were new. A lovely purple hue and plenty of fragrance and complexity on the nose, thanks to some handy whole-bunch work in the winery. This has bright cherry pie, raspberry, cinnamon and gently meaty oak, some pepper too. The palate's firm yet elegant; tannins drive sturdy with some velvet at the edges. Flavours of cherry and plum sit bright amid fleshy texture; length is handy too. Stalks in the Yarra have become a contentious thing, attracting criticism from some of the older generation of Australian wine critics, but I think they work well here. Immense value too."
  • James Halliday

    "Light to medium red-purple; follows the moderate alcohol, hands-off approach of Mac Forbes to his subregional pinots. The philosophy is obvious, and there is no questioning the elegance and purity of the varietal fruit expression. The solar opposite of Barossa Valley shiraz; you may not enjoy the style, but you have to respect it."

Other vintages

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The Australian wine industry is the fourth-largest exporter in the world, exporting 760 million litres to countries such as the UK, France, Italy and Spain. It has been one of the most successful 'New World' wine producing countries. It has done this by formally exporting and marketing its wines as a whole, through Wine Australia. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming nearly 500 million litres of wine per year. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.

Wine regions are in almost all the states with Victoria having 21 regions! Read more about key wine regions such as Margaret River, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and local to New South Wales, Cowra, Southern Highlands and Mudgee.


The wine region of Victoria has the highest number of grapevines than any other state in Australia. It is home to over 600 wineries and well-known regions such as Yarra Valley, Heathcote, and Rutherglen. Victoria is situated in the southeastern corner of Australia where due to the location, the climate has a cool maritime influence and is known for its outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with producing Australia’s most famed dessert Muscat and Topaque wines.

There are a number of different terroir levels throughout the wine region of Victoria which leads to the production of different ranges of wines. In the southern region of Victoria, the vines are regulated by the cool winds of the Bass Strait. Central Victoria consists of mostly flat terrain that tends to be drier and warmer than the rest of Victoria, which results in more fruit concentrated wines. It may be surprising to note that Victoria is the third most productive wine region in Australia, seeing as it does not have as many areas suitable for viticulture, which has resulted in the cellar door culture of Victoria being concentrated with smaller, but more personal boutique wineries.

Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley is a wine region known for producing outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The region has become a leading wine tourism destination, popular for weekend trips as it is located only an hour’s drive northeast of Melbourne.

The cool climate region has some of the oldest soils in the world, and produces terrific Chardonnays in the leaner, acid-driven style. Long gone are the days of excessively oaked and oily Chardonnays. Superb Pinot Noir is cultivated with tremendous results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and even Sparkling wines of premium quality are also worth seeking out.

Yarra Valley is the oldest wine region in Victoria with the first vines planted in 1838 at Yering Station. Reg Egan founded the iconic Wantirna Estate in 1963, followed by Dr Bailey Carrodus in 1969 who founded equally lauded Yarra Yering in the foot of the Warramate Hills. Nowadays a fleet of new world wine makers and growers are making sure Yarra Valley stays at the forefront of Victorian wine production. Key wineries to look out for are Mayer, William Downie and Macforbes.

The region in 2009 suffered in the Black Saturday fires, with an estimated 25% of all production was impacted.

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About the brand Mac Forbes

The Mac Forbes philosophy on viticulture is pretty simple; “we are not trying to adhere to any labels or work under any specific banners of management. We aim to look after the vines and the sites as best we can, this means carrying out all tasks at the best possible time with respect to the season, site, block, row and vine.” Once every step of this philosophy is achieved, the team behind these wines put extra effort into the longevity of each site via soil work, composting, inoculation and feeding of the greater soil biomass. The vines are only as good as the soil they are anchored in, so they say, so with every growing season being so different, they are constantly pushed to question and re-appraise practices to improve production.

Winemaker Austin Black joined the team in 2013 and brought with him a wealth of wine making experience. Having worked in New Zealand at Chard Farm Winery, Austin has focused his experience on cool climate regions developing his knowledge of Pinot Noir, Riesling and Syrah. While New Zealand was the catalyst for this Irishman’s wine making career, he has investigated the practices of the Old World with vintages in both Burgundy and Austria.

The Yarra Valley is home to their winery and a collection of vines, located in Healesville. The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s first wine growing district and its history of winemaking stretches back 160 years. While considered a cool climate, the Yarra Valley is incredibly diverse in soil type, rainfall (750mm-950mm) and elevation (50-1000m).

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