Mitchell Harris Shiraz 2009

Unlike the unusual Sangiovese just reviewed, this wine represents a classic Pyrenees style and one that drinkers will approach with justifiably high expectations. As with all regions in the Western Victoria Zone, the Pyrenees seems to be both highly regarded and perennially underrated, the kind of place wine nerds go nuts over but one that seems to lack the profile of many other Australian regions, large and small. This is certainly a true example of the style, the aroma throwing typically rich, dark fruit and the characteristic note of eucalypt that polarises some. For me, it adds a rustic, slightly hard edge to the aroma profile that is neither positive nor particularly negative; it’s just regional. Here, it is augmented by some evident whole bunch fermentation, which meshes well with the greener aspects of the aroma. There’s a prickliness too that adds complexity and dimension, leading further down through more clean, liquid fruit to a base of well-balanced, straightforward oak. A dash of Viognier makes itself felt through a pretty lift of florals, not enough to corrupt the character of the wine but certainly noticeable.The palate is generous without being in any way outsize. Entry is superbly clean, a lovely dash of savoury berry fruit flooding the mouth and gaining complexity along the way. Sexy oak, eucalyptus, stalk, vanilla; it’s all very easy to drink without being simple or confected. The palate structure is relatively easygoing, cruising along nicely until late in the after palate, where a firmer skeleton of tannin finally emerges, lightly drying the mouth and adding textural interest. The finish is a tad hard right now, with what seems like stalk contributing a rawness to the mouthfeel.  This might benefit from a short rest in bottle — perhaps a year or two — to settle and lose its edge. Rather delicious wine. Mitchell Harris
Price: $A29.95
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Domaine Tournon (Chapoutier) Western Victoria Shiraz or Syrah 2008

I bought this wine because:

  • it’s labelled “Shiraz or Syrah,” a conceit that one hopes was motivated by a heavy dose of French Theory but which, alas, is probably a lot more prosaic in intent;
  • its cork seal looks decidedly out of place on a wine at this price point; and 
  • the geographic indication is simply “Western Victoria.”

This last point intrigued me, and some lazy Googling leads me to suspect the fruit is sourced from the Pyrenees. If so, one wonders why it wasn’t labelled as such. Perhaps this rather ambitiously named Australian region might have caused confusion in the old country.

In any case, enough metavinosity. The wine itself is decent enough and is improving in the glass. On the nose, a pepper steak vibe mixes with dark, juicy plum fruit and some eucalypt. It’s very clean and fresh, though tending towards anonymity in character. There’s something boring about its cleanly defined, simple fruit flavours that may alienate those looking for more personality.

The palate is consistent with this impression, offering good volumes of plum juice in the context of an easygoing, fresh structure. Medium bodied, there’s plenty of flavour and a bit of detail around the edges. The after palate becomes more textured and complex, though the wine never sheds its core of simple fruit flavour. Some heat on the finish along with a lift of mint.

A pretty solid wine at this price, showing hints of regional character without ever threatening to become too interesting. Cork, though; seriously?

Domaine Tournon (Chapoutier)
Price: $A16.15
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail