Some Clayfield wines are luscious in the Grampians ultra-plum and spice mode. Others, like this, occupy a different space, one of finer, more sinewy aromas and lower levels of alcohol (in this case, a mere 13.6% ABV). Spice is still present (this is a Grampians Shiraz, after all), but the vibe is darker and more angular. Interestingly, it comes across as no less luxurious than more plummy styles, no less full of quality materials and attention to detail. It’s simply the difference between a tasseled velvet cushion and a hard, modernist bench: less comforting but utterly upscale nonetheless.
The aroma is tightly coiled, with dark, dense plum skin and woody spice mixing with cedar oak and an iodine note that sometimes makes its way into Clayfield wines. The palate is totally up front about how much flavour is packed into its crouched frame. Sometimes, it’s quite tangible how much a wine needs some age, not because one can’t discern its content, but because it’s all there, in plain sight, simply held in check, frustratingly so, at times. In the case of this wine, this compression darkens the flavour profile, communicating muscularity and concentration and, more than anything, seriousness. Acid is tight and very fine in texture, tannins deceptively gentle (until you realise how much they have dried the finish). What’s wonderful about this wine is how its compaction and density aren’t in any way related to oak, as can so often be the case. It’s the fruit that holds so tightly to this wine’s secrets and which, one day, in a few years’ time, will finally relax into free flow.
Update: two days on and it has hardly moved. This has years in it.