Empire of Dirt


Introducing, Empire of Dirt

Empire of Dirt


‘If you want to find wine, you must first find dirt’

This is the quote you will find on all the Empire of Dirt wines. Named after a Nine Inch Nails song, this project is the love child of the Mayer family and The Sourcing Tables own Ben Henshaw. Born from their mutual love of wines that express a sense of place, Empire of Dirt is all about producing honest expressions of the Yarra Valley.

Flanked on both sides by mountain ranges, and with the historic Yarra river running through it, this a region that’s completely unique. With a patchwork of different soils, altitudes and microclimates, it has become a playground for the new generation of winemakers interested in producing ‘terroir’ driven wines. Everything that makes Yarra wines so captivating, all starts with the dirt.

Made by Rivar Mayer, with input from his father Timo Mayer, these wines represent unbelievable value and are a perfect snapshot into the beauty of Yarra Valley winemaking. 


It's not just Marlborough that grows classy Sauvignon Blanc. This fresh bone dry Sauvignon from the Yarra Valley has subtle varietal characters: a grassy nose, with grapefruit and a textured chalky finish. A third of the grapes are crushed and left to soak overnight before pressing which gives a bit more texture to the wine.


Australian Cabernet is often made in quite a rich, decadent style that needs patience and time to be ready to drink. Empire of Dirt are steering away from this, making their Cabernet with a modern twist; fresh and elegant, deliciously juicy and still drinking well when young (though it will certainly keep giving the goods for many years to come). This 2020 Cabernet, from the cooler vineyard sites of the Yarra Valley, has become a fast, firm favourite with The Sourcing Table team. Plump blackcurrant and blackberry fruit balanced perfectly with fresh acidity, silky tannins and a nice spicy kick to finish.  

2 X SYRAH, 2020

Here Empire of Dirt put a more European twist on the classic Australian 'Shiraz', creating a style that nods to the wines of the Northern Rhone. Instead of following the famed Barossa archetype (often with a very rich, intense profile and high alcohol), their 2020 Syrah is bright and luscious, with supple tannins and a lively acidity that balances it out perfectly. Serious winemaking to produce a wine that doesn't take itself too seriously. If you love a damn good, spicy red, this is an absolute 'must drink'.

About Empire of Dirt

Empire of Dirt is an exclusive label made in partnership with Pinot Noir genius Timo Mayer, by his son Rivar. Today the Yarra is feted for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but historically there was a broader mix of grapes grown, think Mount Mary and Coldstream Hills. Timo and Rivar find well managed vineayards which they think are producing good fruit. They then make the wine simply with a percentage of whole bunch fermentation, which is Timo's trademark, and no additions.

Rivar seems to have inherited his father’s down-to-earth turn of phrase: ‘The Savvy comes from a vineyard next to us which the old man looks after. It was whole bunch pressed, with a third crushed and left overnight before pressing. We wanted to give the wine more varietal characters and texture. The wine had good acidity and didn't need any additions apart from a little sulphur. Good S**t.’