I was extremely impressed with Clayfield’s Ton Up Shiraz and wasn’t sure how this wine, the producer’s flagship, might propose to better it. And, for some tastes, this may be the less desirable wine. Certainly, it takes a denser, more concentrated view of Grampians Shiraz, trading the Ton Up’s surprisingly lithe palate weight for a brawnier, more forceful line. However, for my tastes this is ultimately the better wine, a touch more complete in flavour and perfect in form.
The nose is dark and mysterious, showing a definite family resemblance to the Ton Up (this wine is 39% estate Shiraz, so a similarity of aroma profile is not surprising). There’s deep plum fruit and mixed berries alongside woody spice and cedar twang. Totally regional and possessing a calm perfection that speaks of balance and harmony between each element. There’s a touch more light and shade here, more red fruit sitting alongside the dark, that marks it as a wine of subtlety as well as impact.
The palate brings a view of texture that is quite seductive. Some wines are felt as much as tasted and, in my view, texture is too often pushed behind flavour in terms of its sensory pleasure. This is a wine to reverse the trend; its tannins are plush and velvety, its acid swallowed up by dense fruit without losing its ability to support the line. This just feels so bloody good in the mouth. Flavours are, needless to say, correct and balanced. There’s a rawness to the flavours that is quite expected, given this wine isn’t yet released. More to the point, this is a wine to taste at all stages of its life: on release, through its discovery of aged character, in mellow senility. I suspect it will have something to give at each point.
Whereas the Ton Up is beautiful, this is magnificent. Up there with the best of the region.