James Halliday on Thousand Candles (before tasting)
What is now called the Thousand Candles vineyard was originally known as Killara Estate, which had been planted in 1997. The Thousand Candles name comes from a 19th century account harking back to its indigenous occupiers. A ceremony granting free passage to the lands around the property was witnessed by a European who, referring to the tribesmen dramatically holding aloft their firesticks, remarked ‘it’s as if the twilight of the evening had been interrupted by a thousand candles.’ And indeed the property is a dramatic one, plunging from a height of several hundred metres above the Yarra River down to its flood plains. It is the east-facing upper level flat land and the upper part of the slopes that was planted to 91 ha of vines. Another level of drama was added when the first wine under the new ownership (itself shrouded in mystery) came from the wet vintage of 11, and was a highly unusual blend of shiraz with a dash of pinot noir and a drop of sauvignon blanc. The price was a mind-bending $100 a bottle, but I should add it has been well reviewed by those who have had the opportunity to taste it.