If memory serves as they used to say on Iron Chef, this was something like Rory’s second commercially released vintage. At first, dusty bottle age, a little caramel and leather. Fading blackberry, soft ripe tannin and a lick of lemony acidity that now stands at a distance. Sometimes you can leave a bottle of Aussie red a bit too long and it seems slumped with age into just an old red wine. It was a surprise then, on the second day to find it fresher, more of a blackberry crunch and the middle palate swelling with spice, tar and rich fruit. Once again proof as to the reticent glory of Grampians Shiraz. A waiting game.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. Was about $40.
90 points first day, 92 to 93 on the second.
A producer with a long history for this drinker, my first vintage when there was just one Langi Shiraz bottling was 1986. Only one change of ownership since then puts it firmly in the heritage category. Such is the warming of the climate that an alcohol ripeness of 14.5% would have been unthinkable for this traditionally cool vineyard in the eighties. This release is all about a delicious cushion of evenly ripe summer pudding fruit backed up by what seems to be succulent natural acidity and some woody stem tannin. The details are some typical Langi pepper and aniseed spice. A warm and generous version of a regular buy. Maybe most attractive as a youngster.
14.5%. Screw cap. $25 member’s special at Woolies ethanol barn.
Looking through Aldi’s less than enormous wine selection, it was a pleasant surprise to see those beloved words, Grampians and Shiraz. Despite nearly causing an avalanche in those precarious gravity driven shelf dispensers. The wine’s a tasty surprise too. Bright red fruit, lots of stalky herbs add a green overlay, pepper, spice and earth. The label says a portion of whole bunches were used in the making and they do make their presence known in the green flavours carried along on some firm acidity together with stern gummy tannin. Unless somebody’s invented a mechanical harvester that can snip bunches instead of rattling grapes, then hand picked bunches are quite a cost input for the price. Despite the herby flavours stalking the initial taste, there’s a typical Grampians flare of ripe berry and cherry fruit that builds as the wine lingers around the mouth. Maybe a bit stern and shrubby for some at the moment but it did go well over two days. Real Grampians character for not much, yes please.
13% alcohol and better for it. Screwcap. $12.99.
A warm welcome at a small cellar door in the ancient, scrubby bushland of the gobsmackingly beautiful Grampians. A small proportion of the fruit grown is saved for just a few hundred cases of the vineyard’s own label. The quality of the selection is obvious from first sniff and slurp. Red fruits, touch of blueberry, brown spices and noticeable pepper richly swirled with a seasoning of vanilla custard oak. Very technically clean and conservative making perhaps limits the exuberance a bit as the finish tightens with some lemony acidity. Nonetheless, if you want to taste just how good Grampians Shiraz can be at a very modest price, take a delicious swerve off the highway to Adelaide and go have a taste. A recent bottle of 2018 Riesling was also delicious in that virtually bone dry traditional Grampians way.
14.5% alcohol. Screwcap. $25 and a bargain.
In theory from a very old vineyard in Great Western that’s on the Heritage Council of Victoria database. 2008 was a memorable season as the first Monday of the month hit 35 degrees and then got a degree hotter each day for a week, the promised cooler weather receding with each daily forecast. This dark and forbiddingly dense wine shows how those old vine berries hung on and still produced. For the first two days of opening, it just stayed impressively ungiving, dusty and lacking fruit sweetness. Palpable flavours of dry bushland baking in crackling heat. Dry dark rocks and road tar. The remaining half ullaged bottle then enjoyed a two hour car trip getting sloshed around tight Ocean Road bends. So, three days open, shaken and still no oxidation! In fact some sweet blackberry fruit emerged from the dark carbon steel depths. Drying oak flavours and tannin only help to emphasise the frown. Incredible tannin of dry sun shrivelled skins too and some slightly poking out acid. Probably going to live for many years in a cranky surly way. Me too, hopes.
14% alcohol. Screwcap. $60 approx.
93 dark and serious points.
A long term love of Shiraz from the Grampians and Great Western has led to a few vintages of Rory Lane’s wine being held captive in the dark, cool cave. This 2012 blend of three vineyards is just over medium bodied and more of a supple sinewy gymnast than the hot vintage musclemen. Perfumed with Aussie bush, woody stems, dark boysenberry and smoky oak. The flavours draw evenly and long with more spiced cherries and cane berries floating on those whole bunch savoury tannins and well integrated acidity. All the parts make a delicious resolved whole with some age. Lovely narrative arc in flavour, Rory of the Story.
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $21.99 at the old and missed King and Godfrey.
A lot of spicy, peppery and richly fruited wine from Langi Ghiran has flowed under my bridge since a first 1986 vintage from the long gone and still missed Richmond Hill Cellars. This seems like some of those earlier harvests before vintage dates started sliding forward with more precocious ripeness. Lovely soft just ripe red fruit, pepper and some old style Grampians’ bush scents. Just medium weight and not quite the power of recent hotter years. Perhaps just needs a touch more umphh for the longer term but a lovely taste of place and a bit of misty nostalgia.
13.80% alcohol. Screwcap. $27.
Svelte, composed and delicious. Seamless mixture of darkish berries and cherries, woody herby stems, good acidity without the jangle and fine tannin. Some pepper to season. Really didn’t notice any timber either. Seems unforced and just the right level of ripeness. Good to drink now but the effortless glide may mask an ability to age. Happy.
13.80% alcohol. Screwcap. $27
Attempting to reduce the pile of cardboard boxes, it’s another cellar dweller. Opens without any shyness, gleefully showing off dark spicy blackberry and enough oak not to spoil the overall impression. Builds nicely with bright squishy berries filling the end to give some depth and meaning. All this is tucked tidily into place by some woody stem tannin and fairly firm acidity. The supporting flavours of tarry sweet earthiness seem typical of the Grampians. So good to drink a Shiraz that’s not too ripe and shows its origins with generosity and a warm heart. A story worth telling.
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. About $25 on release.
Rory’s story title for this vintage was ‘Go’ referencing the early vintage when everything ripened frantically at the same time. Looks like he kept his focus and made a beautifully clean, rich expression of some great fruit. It smells of earthy blackberries, plums and woody herby stems from some whole bunches. A little bit of age has opened up the fruit which is a wonderfully rich mouthful of black fruit held together by those chewy stems. The acidity’s melded well into those ripe tannins. Really scratches that Shiraz itch. The Story’s not a front page sensation but the tale has integrity, great value and deliciousness.
13.50% alcohol. Screw Cap. $27.