This label, long iconic, has caused an even greater sensation of late, the 2008 vintage having recently been named the Penguin Wine Guide’s wine of the year. I was therefore surprised and happy to see this wine — which was made in extremely limited quantities due, I believe, to frost damage — on a restaurant wine list this week, sporting a relatively small markup. I promptly ordered a bottle and had it decanted an hour or so prior to drinking.
Some of my wine writing colleagues have expressed quite negative reactions to the Langi style, and I can certainly see why. This is a full-throttle wine, quite undeterred by the notion that Grampians Shiraz ought to represent restrained, medium bodied elegance. There are lashings of oak immediately evident on the nose, and these dirty spice flavours combine with regional plum fruit to create a dark, dense aroma profile. This is the Grampians on steroids, all ultra-plum and squishy blackberries, dark spice and wet wood.
The palate is quite acidic, showing plum flesh, brown spice and pepper (black and white). Lots of flavours and good typicité, then. Stylistically, this is dense and muscular to the point of being slightly clumsy, and it’s here that some drinkers may come unstuck. Does this level of density, of oak and of raw power speak of the Grampians? Or does this wine represent a distortion of its region, a twisting of terroir into something barely recognisable? One thing’s for sure, the quality of the fruit here is superb. It’s clear from this and previous vintages tasted the Langi Ghiran site is capable of producing fruit with the most wonderful flavour and structure. Tannins are raw, raspy, completely fabulous and in need of a while more to settle. Whether they will calm in line with fruit flavours remains to be seen; I’ve tasted older Langis that have aged beautifully, and others whose oak has clearly outlived the fruit. No matter; it’s good to drink now with a good decant and appropriate food.
A real statement wine. I rather liked it.
Mount Langi Ghiran
Price: $A98 (wine list)