I’m on a Mountain X roll, having just written up the wonderful Jack Mattinson’s Deluxe Dry Red from 2009. Here I have now the 2008 Mountain X wine, which in this year was made from Canberra fruit as opposed to the usual Hunter Shiraz (with a dash of Yarra Pinot). The reason’s simple: 2008 was a crap vintage in the Hunter for red wines, but a great one in Canberra.
There’s seems a fashion for stalk in Shiraz at the moment, particularly cooler climate Shiraz. For me, stalk is like oak: an influence that can either complement and enhance a wine or overwhelm and destroy it. It’s not just a matter of volume either; some fruit flavour profiles go better with a bit of whole bunch action than others.
Canberra Shiraz seems especially amenable to whole bunch influence. There’s something about its red fruited, somewhat medicinal regional character that meshes with the often spiky, aromatic vibe of stalk. And so it is with this wine. At first I found the spice and stalk a bit overwhelming, but it does settle with some air, and after a couple of hours it is drinking well. It’s still wild, though, a real hair-toss of an aroma profile, heady with astringent stalk and sharp spice atop crunchy red fruit and charcuterie.
The palate shows good intensity. It’s the sort of wine that seems to cut through the palate with tight focus. Indeed, there’s a good deal of acid, and the wine is only medium bodied. But it’s the stalk and spice that contributes most to this wine’s sense of concentrated focus. The flavour profile is precise and spare, cleanly delineated and almost the opposite of generous. This might be described, in aesthetic terms, as a modernist wine, the very opposite of the kind of ornamented plushness one sees in many bigger red wines. It’s stripped back to the essentials, and for me there’s a real beauty to this style.
Very much enjoyed drinking, and thinking about, this.