This is the second of Andrew Thomas’s 2009 Shirazes that I’ve tasted. The first impressed me a good deal with its uncompromisingly regional style. This beast is a little different.
A deep, earthy, spiky nose. The words “clean” and “Hunter” haven’t always gone together, but they find compatibility in this wine’s aroma profile. Regional dirt and rustic red berries expressed clearly in a nose that’s both typical and glossily modern. What I like about this expression of Hunter shiraz is that it does not forsake regionally for style; this is a true interpretation of modern Hunter, looking for new ways to say the same old things. It is, however, clearly different from more traditional styles, and may lose as many fans as it gains because of this.
The palate is quite structured, driving a firm line right through to the finish. Lots of bubblegum oak tannins, evenly spread and, for now, contributing an astringent, bouncily sweet influence to the flavour profile. Is the character of the oak here an ideal match to the fruit flavours? I’m not sure — at times, it feels too sweet — but most of the time it just tastes good, so I’m happy to go with its stylistic flow. Riding atop is a dense whack of regional red fruit squished into the dustiest of dirt roads. There’s an ease to this wine which belies the amount of oak that’s present. The way the palate unfolds is powerful and confident.
Ultimately, the fruit is just so gorgeous here I could drown myself in it with or without the level of oak. I don’t feel there’s a lack of balance; rather, the winemaking choices frame the fruit differently from how it often is and, personal preferences aside, there’s no doubting the coherence of the style.