I sometimes wonder whether the adaptability of Shiraz to an apparently endless range of regional expressions is a disadvantage. Variety certainly isn’t the issue. But, for someone like me who looks for order and coherence in most things, it can all start to look a bit scattered. Perhaps it seems contradictory to suggest such richness is anything but positive. Certainly, for the wine lover with patience and a well-stuffed wallet, Australian Shiraz on its own offers a world of exploration.
Victorian Shiraz is my current obsession. From the Grampians to Geelong to Heathcote to Beechworth, there’s an array of styles with little to hold them together. Indeed, the fact they are all Victorian seems purely incidental. So this wine, from Beechworth, is like a bolt from the blue, expressing the most clearly defined idea of Shiraz imaginable, and seeming to set the pace for an entire region. It’s the sort of confidently styled wine I believe we need more of.
An explosion of complexity on the nose. Meat stock, sour cherries, nougat, smashed black peppercorns, blackberries and ripe canes. There’s a nice balance between the elements, and a nice topography to the aroma profile; unlike some wines that show seamlessness above all else, this wine isn’t afraid to allow its components to stand out. I like its vibe now; in time, perhaps it will show some different, more settled faces. It’s dense and savoury, expressive and perhaps a bit of a show-off, which would be bothersome if it didn’t have such wonderful things to say.
In the mouth, initially quite tannic. I’ve let it sit in the glass for a couple of hours and, though it remains a structured, tight experience, it is starting to unfold. Give this time. On entry, a freely expressive, textural caress of sour cherry. The middle palate shows stunning complexity; there’s so much going on here and, as with the nose, it’s not seamless so much as intricate and full of tension. Often we value flow and harmony in wine, but this is a lesson in counterpoint, contradiction and angularity. The after palate and finish show a particular glow of fruit and oak that smooth some of the mid-palate’s edges and help the wine to achieve a gentle resolution. A very, very long finish, sour cherry reverberating through a framework of gentle oak and brambles.
What a fantastic wine.