This smells unbelievably good.
First, some background. Those of you who have visited Clayfield’s cellar door know how low key the whole affair is. The tasting bench and winery are one, and the adjacent vineyard, far from being a feature of the property, is almost hidden away. Simon Clayfield is a friendly, chatty fellow too, quite self-effacing, though with a charming smile and a devastating palate. It’s all very pleasant and quite inadequate as preparation for this wine, a product of the small estate vineyard.
Back to the smell. It’s not enough to describe this as regional, because that implies a sort of correct genericism that is misleadingly reductive. Yes, it’s spicy; but oh, what spice. Yes, it’s plummy; and how. This is Grampians Shiraz refined and amplified, showing an intensity and definition of aroma that is quite remarkable. There’s plenty of black pepper alongside other spices — clove, nutmeg, star anise — layered above dark, concentrated fruit and an important, well integrated layer of oak. This is a very assertive wine to smell, yet it shows absolute control despite its expressiveness. As with the best wines, it keeps changing too, each smell showing a different side of the wine.
The palate is quite classical in shape and surprisingly restrained in terms of body, which is medium rather than full. It gives the impression of being acid driven rather than primarily tannic, though tannins are abundantly present. Perhaps it’s a function of how fresh the fruit tastes. Entry is dark and textural, slipping layers of flavour onto the middle palate, where the wine sings with acid and vibrant berry fruit. This is a very young wine, so it’s not surprising that some oak sticks its neck out, slightly raw and yet to fold back into the rest of the wine. This should happen with some time in bottle. Intensity of flavour is remarkable, as is the pure line this wine follows through the after palate to its very long finish. Even though I’m predisposed to liking the region’s Shiraz, I’m having a hard time faulting this wine. It’s excellent, and I will be buying some.
Update: I’ve renamed this post to reflect the label (Ton Up Shiraz) under which this wine will be released in October. I’ve also added a retail price, below. The wine itself has barely moved over two days, tannins becoming marginally more plush, but otherwise still looking as attractive as ever.