Given the isolation of Great Southern, it’s not surprising several producers don’t bother with a cellar door. Shame, though, for those who do make the effort to visit, as I did last year. Not much to do other than order a mixed dozen or two, as I recently did from Castelli Estate. This is the second Castelli wine I’ve tasted from my experimental order, the first being a 2010 Shiraz that seemed quite lean and mean alongside a selection of other cool climate Australian Shirazes of the same vintage.
This edition is, if my memory is any sort of guide, a tad more generous, though it remains a firmly savoury wine. The aroma is quite lifted, with some fairly blunt oak alongside dark fruit, twig-like vegetation and less spice than one might expect of Frankland River Shiraz. I wish it were more defined and precise in the placement of its aromas. Although it’s distinctive and, in its lean way, regional, it’s also a pretty difficult aroma to warm to, mostly due to the directness of its oak component and the aggressiveness of its lift.
The palate is more satisfying, primarily due to an acid structure that delineates each flavour clearly and provides the wine with shape and articulation. There’s also a bit more substance and flesh to the fruit here that rounds out what threatens, aromatically, to be a fairly lean experience. Tannins are well-placed and slightly hard, giving the wine a firm finish. There are flashes of humanity here and there, some fruit to sink into, but these are the exception. The style here is, generally, rather unyielding.
I’ve certainly tasted Frankland River Shiraz with greater purity of fruit, vibrancy and complexity, and respect the region’s potential. Although this shows a genuine sense of place, for my palate it lacks the tension and interest that characterises really exciting Shiraz of the region.
Update: day 2 and the wine has settled somewhat. The aroma remains dark, with a hint of reduction I hadn’t initially noticed, while the palate has evened out and is showing brighter, quite attractive fruit. Still lacking in definition, but I suspect some time in a decanter will help it show to its best advantage.