This is quite a wine. After a few days of tasting fundamentally uninteresting commercial styles, one sniff of this reminded me of what wine can be, of how it can fill a room and one’s senses with individualism and character.
Which probably means some people will hate it, and those likely to disapprove are those with an aversion to spicy, cooler climate Shiraz styles of the sort Australia does so well but is so little known for. This wine, from Hilltops in New South Wales, is a full-on pepper attack at first, each twist of the grinder revealing blackberry brambles, snapped twig and all sorts of other wild, meaty aromas that are about as far from Barossa Shiraz as you can get. It’s sharp and complex and neatly avoids any sense of out-and-out aggressiveness.
The palate is both light and powerful. What stands out most for me is the way each flavour wraps around the others while remaining quite distinct; this gives the wine a sinewy, taut character that is quite thrilling. Entry is spiced and red fruited in equal measure, the flavour profile being entirely savoury and the acid prominent. While the middle palate remains light to medium bodied, there’s a good deal of flavour and its sharp, spiced profile gives the wine satisfying impact. The after palate shows some plush plum fruit alongside twigs and spice (and a hint of vanilla ice cream oak), while the finish is both delicate and long. The acid needs a little time to settle, I think, as it’s currently quite assertive, something the sharp flavour profile does not mask. Tannins are drying and loose-knit.
Still an infant, but bloody impressive nonetheless. I’ll be fascinated to revisit this in a few years’ time.