Eloquesta by Stuart Olsen Shiraz Petit Verdot 2009

Wine labels tend to look somewhat samey after a while, so it’s always a nice surprise to open a box and find something distinctive staring back at you. The label is really quite pretty in an almost handmade way, and the chosen bottle has a nice, subtle curve to its side. All in all, lovely packaging. I’m particularly interested (even before tasting) in how this wine is being marketed. This is, in all apparent respects, a labour of love. Complex, quasi-natural wine techniques are used throughout; there’s carbonic maceration, whole bunch fermentation, minimal sufur, and so on. That’s a lot of quirk to pack into a $28 bottle of wine, and it all very much taps into the zeitgeist as far as wine appreciation is concerned.

To the wine itself. An immediate fruit lift signals the carbonic maceration. It’s a technique that can yield cheap-smelling wines, but I like the playfulness of the sprightly fruit in the aroma profile here. This otherwise smells as one might expect: characterful, dark fruited, anything but slick. The oak character stands out as too nougat-like. I would have preferred less of it, and something spicier.

The palate’s structure is appropriately rustic. There’s some raspy acid and the tannins are loose and drying; it all fits well with the artisanal vibe. Flavours are bright and fruit-driven, and for someone reared on dense Australian red wines, this may come across as too acidic as well as too thinly flavoured, and certainly there’s a hint of alcohol on the palate that I find intrusive. That’s a matter of taste; what interests me more is an impression that this wine is risky, walking a tightrope between characterful and home made. It’s certainly clean, and in all respects feels attentively crafted on a very small scale. Heaven to some, no doubt, even as it perhaps mystifies others.

Eloquesta by Stuart Olsen
Price: $A28
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

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