This has to be one of the best 2009 Hunter Valley Shirazes I’ve tasted so far.
It’s a charming vintage, incidentally, bringing to a close ten dramatic years in the Hunter. There have been several memorable vintages for reds – 2003 for its drought-driven concentration, 2005 and 2007 for their balanced power, and now 2009, which seems to exemplify the sort of medium bodied, supple elegance that I associate with the region’s Shiraz style in its most classical form.
The nose is complex and clean, hitting notes as varied as cranberries, grilled meat, sweet earth, and soft oak. While it’s absolutely typical of the region, what separates it from a merely correct wine is a sense of depth and detail, combined with a distinctiveness to the fruit character. It’s a nose to dive into and explore, providing new perspectives the longer one stays with it.
The palate really takes things up a notch, again absolutely striking and crystal clear. What’s quite sensational here is the articulation of flavours on the palate; each component lands cleanly on the tongue and transitions to the next without any jarring breaks or unseemly peaks and troughs. Dense red fruit with a crisp edge, a sort of green juiciness that’s hard to place but remarkably fresh, black pepper, subtle oak. Structure is firm, as one would expect of a young wine like this, sparkling acid adding freshness and abundant tannins providing plenty of textural interest.
Of all the fine qualities of this wine, what has stayed with me most since tasting it is the character of the fruit. It has the sort of subtle distinctiveness that some producers might be tempted to obscure in a blend but which, here, stands out for its beautiful imperfection. It’s clearly the product of a single site, for better or worse, and we should thank De Iuliis for letting it shine alone.