In this slippery world of wine writers’ ethics, best to begin with a few disclaimers. Leigh Gilligan, proprietor of Gilligan Wines, is:
- a McLaren Vale legend;
- a friend; and
- a partner in Dowie Doole, the winery with whom I did vintage last year.
That said, I had no involvement in the making of this wine and approach it, as usual, with the perspective of a curious onlooker. I’ve tasted previous vintages of this label and have always found it a surprisingly sophisticated, savoury interpretation of the GSM blend. This continues in that line and, to my palate, is the best release so far.
The aroma is as much McLaren Vale as anything else: rich plums of liquerous intensity, fairly generous oak and a fluidity of character that is the hallmark of this region’s delicious red wines. Indeed, the Vale’s tendency to impart a round, angle-less character to its reds is one of the things I like most about this region, and it’s in full evidence here. There’s a savoury depth, though, that becomes quite striking with some swirling and glass time. Having worked with Shiraz from the Old Rifle Range vineyard, I know it tends towards a dark savouriness with overtones of aniseed. Mourvèdre, too, makes a noticeably meaty contribution to the aroma, such that the whole ends up much darker and more adult than it first seems.
The palate gives more of the same, a rush of fruit onto the mid-palate its most notable feature. It’s all so easy, one could overlook the fact that there’s some good complexity of flavour at work, with licorice allsorts playing alongside vegetal Mourvèdre and some bright red Grenache fruit. I like that it’s both plush and quite savoury, and that its tannins are chalky and fine, just prominent enough to lightly dry the finish.
There’s an honesty at work here — a connection both to region and varietal composition — that translates to a generous, delicious wine. Truly a wine for drinking.