“Go to town on this one.”
So said Simon Clayfield as he gave me this bottle during a recent visit to the Grampians. We had just finished tasting through his range and, of the 2006 Shiraz, he remarked the spice had receded, but would be back. As an example of what it might become, he suggested I try the 2002 wine, noting it is drinking well and showing plenty of spice character.
He wasn’t wrong. This is essential Grampians Shiraz, a regional style that appeals to me very much. Of course, quality matters even in the context of an attractive style, though it can be more difficult to sort through. Spotting a diamond in the rough is easy; sifting through wines that you like right off the bat for their collective flavour profile necessitates a closer look to stratify quality.
This wine, in any case, is top shelf. The spice notes here — in fact the aroma profile in general — is both regional and quite transcendent of its origins, being utterly integrated and complex in its intense exoticism. There’s an enveloping blanket of spice and pepper, akin to a fine curry of the highest order, a multitude of ingredients fusing into a single wall of finely detailed fragrance. Great wines taste of themselves first and foremost.
Notable is the oak character, which is perfectly matched in character to the aroma profile, bringing a cedar influence up to, but stopping some way short of, the spicy fruit.
In the mouth, what’s immediately striking is a burst of fresh plum fruit atop what devolves into a cascade of aged, sweet leather, more spice and a well integrated structure. The high toned flavours are almost overwhelming in their intensity and persistence, and might threaten to unbalance the wine were it not for a firm line of plum underlining the whole. While the mid-palate shows the greatest concentration of spice, the after palate reveals a liquerous expression of plum-like fruit, bringing a sense of harmony to the flavour components and a curiously fresh resolution to the overall profile.
This wine was an interesting counterpoint to the 05 Castagna Un Segreto tasted immediately prior to it. I’d characterise the Castagna as in many ways a baroque wine; sinewy, complex, full of intertwining themes that echo and complement each other, but with a slightly hard aesthetic that tilts away from sensuality at times. This, by contrast, is like a Debussy tone poem; its face is atmospheric, its mood emotional, its construction crystalline. Fucking beautiful.