Three 2009 Shirazes in one sitting – this, the same producer’s Road Block and the Tyrrell’s Old Block. Each wine completely different from the next, though with both Chapel Hill wines showing a distinct regional relationship, as one would hope.
Increasingly, I’m enjoying what I see as the nascent influence of Burgundy on Australian Shiraz, not of technique, but of philosophy. There are such marked differences between regional Shiraz styles, and indeed within regions and sub-regions, yet to my mind this remains territory that is barely mapped, and wines like this are a step along the path towards a deeper, finer, Burgundian understanding of how Australia does Shiraz. None of which would matter if the wines weren’t much good, so I’m pleased to note this is an excellent McLaren Vale Shiraz, in my opinion superior to the Road Block, though very different from it too. The vines here are a lot older, and without wanting to dive into that conversation, I will innocently note that this wine seems more resolved and complex, less brutal in flavour profile than the Road Block.
The nose is quite settled and full of adult savouriness; dusted cocoa powder, cherries, raspberries, complexity, medicine, comfort, dusty beauty. Who doesn’t love a farmer? This smells so genuine it completely bypasses a conversation about what it is and just exists in its vibrant, deeply understood way.
The palate is of medium weight and seamless complexity. There are coffee grounds and red fruits, expressed with significant intensity of flavour. What’s really nice here is the wine’s sense of quiet vitality; it just sings in the mouth with calm and a sense of reserve, never jumping around, nor sticking at any stage, nor cloying the palate. Modern McLaren Vale Shiraz can be bruising in style, but this wine’s weight and balance highlight what I love about an old school expression of the style: sheer drinkability.
These are wines that, in a sense, teach us all over again what wine is — a conduit for one of the most intense yet least scrutable forms of aesthetic delight.