Mount Pleasant Old Paddock & Old Hill Shiraz 1996

There’s something about wines that are potentially great: when you get them in the glass, no matter of time spent sniffing and thinking seems to offer so much as a suggestion as to what exactly this wine is supposed to be. Most wines offer easy clues: raspberry motor oil? Congratulations, you’ve just bought a high octane Barossa shiraz? Your grandmother’s toilet soap mixed in with Hawaiian Punch? Congratulation, you just bought a trendy Shiraz Viognier that someone hurried to market in the early 2000s.And this wine? I’m stumped. Is that earth? Dried dates, perhaps? No. Something like nail varnish and vetiver? No, that’s not it either. It’s definitely old – as I poured it into the glass, its color was hesitant, shy, unwilling to assert itself. Cloves and camphor? That might be more correct… at any rate, there is still some kind of primary fruit hanging on for dear life here, combined with somewhat “off” (yet likeable!) notes of dirt and sharpness.Surprisingly rich in the mouth,  it still defies easy description; this isn’t really like any wine I know. There’s something here which reminds me of a discontinued chocolate sampler left over from last season’s Valentine’s Day shopping: the tiniest bit musty with a fruitiness of confectionarial trends long since past. There’s almost a horehound medicinal aspect here too, but not really; menthol, perhaps, but more of a folk remedy than cheap chewing gum additives. There’s absolutely lovely viscosity here as well; the feel is surprising and welcoming; there’s also a curiously high-pitched tangential note that enter early on and remains for some time. Finally, there still seems to be some sweet, woody character here that still supports it all.So: I’m not sure what the heck to say about this wine other than it is strange, strange in the best possible way. Everything they teach you in wine school turns out to be wrong in this one case: you can’t grow grapes in such a terrible climate, you shouldn’t age New World wines that long, you name it. But what we have here, ultimately, is (I think) terroir, plain and simple. Somehow, the local pioneers sussed that the Hunter Valley does in fact produce phenomenally good wines – wines that are in fact better than good as they’re entirely sui generis. And that’s no small achievement.Mount PleasantPrice: No idea (this was a present from Julian); Wine Searcher says about A$42 for the current releaseClosure: CorkDate tasted: July 2008

2 thoughts on “Mount Pleasant Old Paddock & Old Hill Shiraz 1996

  1. Great note. This sounds like a fascinating bottle of wine. How fortunate, too, that it was a sound bottle; the last couple I’ve tried have been either affected by random oxidation or unbearably tainted with brett (I think we tasted the latter together last time you were in town). But the good bottles — oh my.

    When this was first released, it had an abundance of bright red fruit, so your note indicates quite a significant change with bottle age. The funky dirt flavours sound quintessentially Hunter. Another point to regional character, I think.

    • It just keeps going… half an hour or so later, it suddenly decided to smell and taste exactly like a very high quality saucisson sec – it’s like I’m at a French truck stop eating charcuterie all over again. It’s simply amazing stuff.

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