Who is HOO, and what is EGG?
HOOSEGG is the dream that Philip Shaw has been working towards for nearly 60 years. In 2015, he made the decision to transfer the management of Philip Shaw Wines to his sons, Damian and Daniel.
"I wanted time to fulfill my dream - to make small parcels of wine that can stand amongst the finest wines from anywhere. This reflects my philosophy on wine making: select an exceptional site and the right varieties. Marry the vineyard and the winemaking. Every wine should be placed on its own canvas and not replicate others. You should be guiding the direction of the wine, not controlling it, always challenging the achievements. In style, I want to make wines that are elegant, vibrant, varietal, intense and complex."
To do this Philip has established a small winery, utilising parcels of select fruit from the Koomooloo vineyard which he established 30 years ago, state-of-the-art winemaking equipment, the best new oak - and all the lessons learned making wine over the past 60 years.
This new venture is called HOOSEGG. Why? Well, the ‘HOO’ is Philip - to avoid any confusion with Philip Shaw Wines - and the ‘EGG’ is to symbolize ‘a new beginning’
But the story goes back a long way - in 1989 he planted Koomooloo Vineyard in the Orange Region, selling the grapes until he moved permanently to Orange in 2004.
"My original plan was to sell the grapes for 12 years to allow the vineyard to mature before making my own wine - it took a bit longer, 15 years", he laughs.
Orange is located west of Sydney over the Great Dividing Range. The Orange appellation is defined by altitude - all the vineyards are above 600metres and they go up to over 1000metres. It is also, incidentally, a major apple and cherry producing region, which is one of the things that sparked Philip’s interest – as it defines the coolness of the region.
Since 2004 Philip has been concentrating on the vineyard to produce grapes that could achieve the full potential of the site. This involved reducing crop levels by shoot thinning, bunch thinning, and improving quality with leaf plucking and hand-picking. Eventually, in 2009, any reliance on irrigation was removed.
He is very focused on growing the best quality fruit, almost obsessively considering all viticultural inputs and the impact they have on wine quality, and doing this without the usual commercial imperatives.
The winemaking philosophy is very simple - success is dependent on having a very good understanding of the basics and then having the confidence to throw them away.
Allow the grapes and wine to dictate the course. Care and timing are the essence of quality. So the grapes are handpicked early in the morning, chilled, destemmed and fermented in small open pots (1-2 Tonne).
"My main focus initially was with chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz but I also planted merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. It has taken much longer for these later varieties to show their potential. But they are now reflecting amazing levels of quality.
The last couple of years have been an exciting period of work to have the vineyard produce exactly the fruit I wanted so I could arrive at the right blend of grapes and winemaking. I feel finally we are producing the style I have been seeking.
After numerous bench blending sessions, I was able to arrive at wines reflecting the style and quality I was targeting."