Pyren, in Victoria’s Pyrenees, is now overseen by Leighton Joy, both son and nephew of the founders (brothers). He has diverted the more traditional line of the estate down one that tinkers with experimentation, from working whole bunch and carbonic maceration into their classic varietal wines to spinning the creativity wheel in the Little Ra Ra range.
The Pyren vineyard was first planted by Brian and Kevyn Joy in 1999. The brothers chose an undulating site in the Warrenmang Valley near Moonambel, in Victoria’s Pyrenees region. The pair planted shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot over a number of years and built a winery on site in 2009. Brian’s son Leighton is the Pyren General Manager, overseeing all the operations as well as making the wine.
Leigthon studied viticulture at La Trobe University. Well, for almost two years, at least. The study gave way to practical experience, with Joy proudly proclaiming, “I am a product of Pyren Vineyard.” Leighton’s first vintage at Pyren was back in 2003, with him taking the reins at the winery in 2012.
And in case that surname is familiar, there’s a bit of Joy to go around, if you pardon the pun, with Leighton’s cousin Andy Joy part-owner and front of house guru at the cutting edge wineslinger the Carlton Wine Room (he also fronted Cumulus Up and Marion from their openings and for subsequent successful years).
Leighton presides over three ranges and around 15 wines for Pyren. The Earthscape range, which bears an illustrative label that describes the changing day, from bright sunlight through twilight and into starry dark, with each assigned to a variety – sauvignon blank wears the sunshine and sparkling shiraz dons the night-time livery. Those wines describe the “quartz laden” soil through the medium of single varieties, while the Little Ra Ra range bucks convention, favouring experimentation, including skin-contact ‘whites’ and a whole-bunch fermented sauvignon blanc pét-nat. The Reserve range rounds out the offer, with a syrah, cabernet and Bordeaux blend called ‘Union’, with all made from the best performing blocks.