Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz 2000

I’ve so quickly become accustomed to the relative reliability of screwcapped wines that, when faced with an older, cork-sealed bottle, I probably feel more nervous than I ought. The last few months have seen a fair few dodgy bottles, mind, but cork does have its good moments, too. This bottle, in excellent condition, was one of them.

I last tasted this in 2008 and for the most part my earlier note stands. This is definitely a rich expression of Hunter Shiraz, a bit clumsy perhaps, but so generous and surely pleasing to lovers of the style. The aroma is very expressive, showing violets, oak, earth, leather and brown spice. Good impact and power in the mouth.

The flavour profile has evolved, showing a bit more leather and bit less brightness of fruit. It’s still fairly primary, though, and appears to be ageing slowly, so I suspect good bottles have a decent life ahead of them. Weight is only medium, despite the richness of flavour and quantity of oak.

My earlier note mentioned elegance, and I saw less of that here, but its deliciousness is only increasing with time.

Mount Pleasant
Price: $A28
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Five years of Full Pour

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

For most of 2007, I had been logging tasting notes in Blogger as a personal aide-mémoire, not wanting to pollute my other writing projects with fumbling attempts at transcribing the experience of wine into words. Meanwhile, my friend and fellow wine lover Chris Pratt was also playing with tasting notes, pushing their form this way and that in his highly personal, vivid way.

To write about the wines we were tasting under the banner of Full Pour brought these threads together in a way that was, and continues to be, somewhat idiosyncratic. Our work was never going to feed an audience hungry for capsule recommendations or insider insights, an audience that was and remains well served by other channels. Instead, Full Pour became an extension of us: two friends and crazy wine people with an interest in the aesthetics of wine; in what it means to open a bottle of something in the real world, in an imperfect setting, with no objective other than to seek enjoyment from the experience, and to sometimes be disappointed. Full Pour was our taste, perception and intelligence on the line, published because we think wine matters enough warrant honest reflection.

Cut to 2012, five years later: 1022 posts, innumerable comments both kind and not quite so generous, some spectacular wines, a lot of less than spectacular ones, a few intellectual battle lines drawn and, I hope, a contribution of some integrity to the dialogue about wine. Full Pour isn’t a wine site for everyone, just as Chris and I will never please every person we meet, but I’ve connected with enough wine writers, thinkers and drinkers through our efforts here to suggest what we do holds, at least, some interest.

There are, naturally, a lot more sites about wine in 2012 than there were when we started in 2007, especially in Australia (and I’m pleased to note the best of the Aussies then (Wine Front/Winorama, Wino sapien) continue to delight today). Moreover, Twitter has happened, and the zeal with which wine people, including me, have taken to it continues to amaze and amuse me. The democratisation of wine has truly arrived, even if the excitement of self-publishing often burns brightly and even more quickly for many, and even if the conversation has, in some ways, become shallower as it has sped up.

I wonder about Full Pour’s place in all this, about the role of a conversation about wine that demands a level of engagement many may not have the time or patience for. That will, no doubt, sort itself out in time. What hasn’t changed, except to perhaps deepen, is my sense of wonder, my yearning to understand more and taste better, and my need to write and read things that make me think.

So, after five years of realising how little I know about wine, here’s to the people whose company matters to me: to Full Pour’s co-founder Chris, to wine writers who care about getting it right, to our readers who do me the honour of their time and attention, and to producers who respect both their product and their customers. I don’t know how things will look in five years’ time, but I hope to be accompanied by these excellent people as we, together, find out.

Offcuts: Shiraz benchmarking

I recently attended a very well-run tasting put on by Sommeliers Australia, which focused on Shiraz from various parts of the world. Lots of interesting wines and quite a few surprises. We tasted semi-blind: we knew what was in each bracket, but not the order in which wines were served.

Comparative tasting can be so cruel to wines yet is always such an education to the drinker. The notes below, on wines I found interesting for one reason or another, should be read in the context of the tasting environment, and are as true as I can make them to my impression of each wine before the reveal.

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2010.
Floral and spiced, with bright red berry aromas and vanillan oak. In the mouth, medium bodied and freshly acidic, but lacking some fruit freshness, coming across as slightly simple and confected.

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz 2009.
Nice wine, this one. Apparent stalks, spice, meat, with relatively rich plum fruit. Structure is firm and satisfyingly tannic. The wine is long. One of the wilder wines of the tasting, not including some horse-drawn Rhônes.

Greenstone Shiraz 2009.
Quite a bright wine, with oak a tad obvious at first. The flavour profile shows red fruits and florals. Acid is firm and fresh. A more subdued style than I would expect from Heathcote.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010.
Much cooler smelling than the preceding wines, by which I mean it has a green streak, not unripe so much as succulent, floral and fleshy. This continues on the palate, where there are also blue fruits, all of which leads to a fresh after palate and finish.

Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2009.
Gentle and composed, this tastes slightly less youthful than its vintage suggests. Tannin structure is a highlight, and the wine is firm and long; overall it’s just beautifully balanced. Excellent wine.

Jim Barry The Armagh 2007.
A big red wine for big red wine lovers. Liqueur and fruit cake, firm and slightly disjointed acid, the whole is structured and weighty. I think this needs time and may never be an elegant wine (nor, perhaps, does it need to be).

Brokenwood Hunter Shiraz 2009.
Instantly identifiable as Hunter; it brought a smile to my face. Hunter Shiraz really is a world apart. A good example of the style, this shows typical turned earth and red berries, and some brown spice. Medium bodied with more acid than tannin, structurally.

Henschke Hill of Grace 2006.
Tough wine to enjoy in this lineup, as its flavours were quite different and noticeably tertiary, though the wine is anything but old. Very savoury, with a touch of dried fruit in amongst its red and black berries. Tannins are abundant and will benefit from more time to settle.

Clape Cornas 2006.
Very correct, with potpourri and red berries the dominant flavour components. Tannins powdery and a bit random, this wine lacks finesse in its palate structure. Nice wine, but others showed better on the day.

Rostaing La Landonne 2007.
Vindicates Tim Kirk’s efforts in a way, as this bears a clear stylistic relation to the Côte-Rôtie inspired Clonakilla. I thought the French wine showed better in this tasting. Nuanced in flavour and elegant in countenance, this wine tastes correct but is interesting for so many other reasons besides. My only niggle is a sense of bright, lifted simplicity of fruit through the after palate. Joyous to some, perhaps, but I would have preferred complexity from start to finish.

Cuilleron VDP des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah 2010.
One of the more enjoyable wines of the tasting, if not the most sophisticated. A lovely, accessible flavour profile of dark fruits and spice. Decent complexity of flavour, its relative lack of structure the clearest indication of its humble intentions.