Kingston Estate Echelon Shiraz 2008

I suspect the very idea of this wine will offend some people. It’s the antithesis of the sort of artisanal, terroir-driven wine that is idealogically safe to like. No, this is from Kingston Estate, producer of reliable and occasionally striking value-priced wines. It hails not from a single, characterful vineyard but from three regions in South Australia: Mount Benson, Clare Valley and Adelaide Plains. No undiluted terroir here. Despite all that, I must admit I was very excited to see this sample arrive in the mail, for all I saw were the positives: a relatively expensive wine made by a producer with all the technology and know-how one could wish for at its disposal and, I assumed, a large network of growers from whom to procure good quality fruit.

The reality sits somewhere in between these two extremes. There’s no doubting the seriousness of this wine; the aroma is quite closed at present, with dense, almost inscrutable aromas of dark berries, the glossiest of glossy oak, deep spice and deeper brambles. It’s nowhere near ready to drink, really, but even at this young age it shows good depth and detail. Its overall vibe is savoury and adult, no hint of the confectionery fruit one might expect to see in this producer’s lower tier wines.

This palate isn’t as forbidding as the nose suggests it could be, although it’s certainly not in the zone at this stage either. The entry shows good attack and an elegant swell of fruit into the middle palate. Here, it becomes apparent that this wine is far from the blockbuster one might expect. Indeed, it’s wonderfully elegant, with good shape and flow, medium weight at most. The flavours here span red and black fruits, spice and cedar oak, winding around each other with good delineation and balance. The after palate and finish display a slight rawness that speaks of youth more than anything else; a year or two in bottle and the line should fill out into the back palate.

Ultimately, this beautifully made wine is both satisfying and frustrating. For, as much as I want to enjoy its slick perfection, it lacks a particular dimension, one that values exaggeration and imperfection above the ideal form. How silly, perhaps, to criticise a wine for being too good; buy a bottle and enjoy what is arguably an expression of what we do best.

Kingston Estate
Price: $A27.99
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample