I’m not one who believes things like transparency of vintage or site are ends in themselves, but at the same time it’s nice to see a vintage shine through, making its mark on a wine and reminding us that we’re dealing with an agricultural product. Over the course of the last few releases of this label (see my notes on the 2009 and 2010), Stuart Olsen has apparently worked with, rather than against, the qualities of each vintage. Having observed that, I will also add that this, despite being a leaner, more exposed wine, is also showing a degree of polish that seems a step above what has come before.
The aroma certainly signals the sort of sappy freshness that speaks of whole bunches and considerable acid. It’s not signalling any dramatic underripeness, but there’s a lean crunchiness to the aroma that banishes any hint of abundance. It’s also emphatically spicy, which I like in the context of these aromas. Fruit isn’t the driving force here, but to the extent that it winds its way around the spice, it’s dark and sinewy in character.
The palate is a replay of the nose. There’s lean, rope-like fruit within an acid-driven structure that is both fresh and tight. If you’re coming off the back of a fuller wine, this might seem quite anaemic, yet I think it finds its own balance, even if rather tilted towards acid. On the negative side, it pulls up a bit short, exposing the finish to oak’s influence, as well as that of its alcohol.
In the context of Stuart Olsen’s oeuvre so far, this is a worthwhile, distinctive addition to his evolving Shiraz Petit Verdot project. I don’t think it’s a complete wine, but it’s one I’m glad to have tasted and which, in its own sprightly way, provides good pleasure.
Update: this certainly rounds out with some air. The winemaker believes it’s suffering from bottle shock, and my own experience with it over several days is that it benefits from considerable time after being opened. Fruit steps forward and the wine gains a distinctly more expressive balance. A very interesting wine.
Eloquesta by Stuart Olsen