2016 The Graillot Project No.2 Heathcote Syrah

A collaboration between the Graillots of Crozes fame and a reasonably well off Melbourne wholesaler and importer makes you think this might be outside the generously ripe parameters of mainstream Shiraz. Oh, it’s Syrah. The perfume does indeed include that smoky, floral whole bunch waft. There’s spice, raspberry and an earthy bay note. Good to actually drink, less extraction, less oak, less winery fiddling than some. Despite the reminders of the Rhône, there’s a core of loose knit broader shouldered Heathcote fruit. Relaxed and friendly. The second day, it gets darker, dried fruits, woody stems and a nibble of fruit and nut chocolate. Nonetheless, still very nice to drink, good acidity and tannin, ripe and succulently drying. Entente cordiale.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $30 ish.

93 for impact, 92 to settle.

2019 Gravity Wine Co Ghost Syrah

Shamelessly biased review, this, as over the last decade I’ve come to admire the quiet, intelligent and determined way the man behind the Gravity Wine Co goes about things. Especially the sanguine shrug of the shoulders when frost decimated the chances of making wine in 2020 amongst other difficulties. One joy not lost though was the chance to sit with a glass of something very tasty. My inadequate scribble suggests an extraordinary spice bazaar, perfect mint and raspberry, haze of bay leaf, rosemary and almost lavender. Bit of Heathcote forest too. The inherent deep fruit softness and sweetness of tannin and acidity never to be mistaken for lack of backbone. An unassuming suggestion that this might be the best south bit of Heathcote Syrah he’s made, not going to argue otherwise. Spookily good.

13% alcohol. Screwcap. Perhaps around $30?

95 points lacking a bit of objectivity.

2010 Bindi Pyrette Heathcote Shiraz

From one of the originals of Macedon and the nicest, most thoughtful vignerons around. Syrah from Heathcote, a bit further north and quite warmer than those chilly hills, picked earlier than some for bright bouncy fruit and gastronomic, nice word, pleasure. Clean smells of Australian forests, some bay leaf, whole bunch sap, a passing whiff of smoky reduction and steaming up through the detail, a bright sweet red berry plume, so typical of Heathcote. Just as it is to sniff, so it is in flavour. Nice mesh of fine tannin and settled acidity. Time has knitted it all together without losing the raspberry, plummy richness. It’s not enough for Bindi to make some of Australia’s most understatedly intense Pinot and Chardonnay commanding thoroughly deserved prices, there’s graceful Shiraz for us cheapskates too.

13.5% alcohol. Diam. $26 at auction, quite a score.

93 points.

2012 Red Edge Heathcote Shiraz

From a vineyard planted on the very old Cambrian volcanic red soils of Heathcote proper in 1971 says the helpful back label. It also says the maker is Peter Dredge. There’s a man by the same name making wine in Tasmania which makes me wonder if he’s extremely busy or there’s two of them? Nonetheless time has been kind to this bottle, producing a lovely sweet roundness to the black cherry and blackberry fruit with the dark char of mocha oak now seasoning nicely. There’s also some background savour in spice and bay leaf. Acid and sweet ripe tannin have settled any differences and sit calmly together. The fruit’s so good that the advertised alcohol really doesn’t breathe heat at all. A few years of bottle rest seems a good test of fruit quality and this passes with ease and no little grace. Heathcote showing just what it can do, tasty.

14.6% alcohol. Screwcap. Lucky auction win again for $24. Normal retail closer to $40, clever me.

94 points.

2018 Gravity Stardust Heathcote Shiraz

A twinkling bargain amongst some astronomically priced Australian Shiraz. That’s nearly exhausted the bad space puns. Clean smells of brown woody spices, bay leaf, sage, little bit of mint, dark raspberries, plums and a touch of tar. All carried through the mouth by comfortable acidity and fine stem and skin tannin. Just a bit reticent at the moment. A year or two may allow the berry fruit to shine. A touch more fruit concentration and the label would need charity status. Difficult to find such flavour for twenty terrestrial Australian currency units these days.

13.80% alcohol. Screw cap. $20.

92 points.

2018 Gravity Dark Star Heathcote Grenache Shiraz

Forty four years after John Carpenter’s whacky space film and a bit longer since the Grateful Dead’s epic psychedelic inner universe exploration comes a flavour adventure with its feet firmly planted in the southern granite soils of Heathcote. Mint, sage, Australian bush after rain and bright red fruits blast off into a balanced orbit of settled acidity and fine graphite flavoured tannin. Nicely medium weight, it gains from gathering oxygen from our terrestrial atmosphere over 72 hours. Perhaps one of those blends that’s more than the sum of parts? Grenache looking good for landing on Metcalfe’s little bit of Heathcote? One small step for right grapes, right place…

13.20% alcohol. Screwcap. $28.

93 points.

2012 Chapter Southern Heathcote Shiraz

A good mate found this had fallen behind a pile of boxes under the house. The two chaps on the label peering from the gloom. Opened well with clean red fruit, some spice and pepper and a good seasoning of Central Victoria in the form of gum tree and mint. Ripe but not overblown. Sweet gentle raspberries and compact glide to a well controlled end. Just enough rasp of glossy tannin to carry a satisfying conclusion. Developing nicely. Lovely medium weight wine of place. Think somebody better get back under the floorboards and go fishing for another?

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $22.

93 points.

5th November 2020 and another bottle from my own stash. Just as above. Still so fresh and delicious. Steady on 93 points.

2017 Demi by Syrahmi Heathcote Shiraz

Yet another 17 Victorian Shiraz. Again this one has those minty, gum tree regionals but there’s a smoky, touch of stem, new leather reference to the other part of the world that’s home for Syrah. At first it didn’t seem as rich and great as recent years but upon the second day it gained dark raspberry and sweet cherry flesh seasoned by woody spice. Poised, svelte and a slurpy freshness. Third day and it relaxed and faded a touch. As usual, a great sense of perfect ripeness, neither green nor overblown and tastefully made. More locals like this, please.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $27 well spent.

92 points.

2017 Whistling Eagle Vineyard Dry Red

The possibility of less oak, less alcohol and less fruit cake and more fresh fruit was enough to sway the choice from the ever attractive shelves of Rathdowne Cellars, a stalwart Melbourne business. Heathcote at its best can produce red wine of naturally deep fruit flavour and balance and, goodness, this is one of ‘em. The freshest raspberry and it’s many cane fruit variants whizzed up with bay leaf. Indelible tannin and acidity that preserved and amplified the fruit over four or so days. Mostly Shiraz but the rest is a mystery. Perhaps some Grenache, Mourvèdre or even Tempranillo? Whatever, a few bottles for later looks likely.

14% alcohol, yes that’s relatively low for the average. Screwcap. $28.

94 points.

2017 Wickhams Road Heathcote Sangiovese

Perhaps a first Sangiovese from those relentlessly great value and energetic Hoddles Creek chaps? Clean, fresh, bright, just medium weighted, cherry scented with a twist of mint and eucalypt forest. Really has that lip smacking, cheek flapping twang of the juicy blood of Jove. One for those who value fruit over extraction. The ripe acidity positively takes it up a notch with some simple pizza or pasta. Bravissimo ragazzi!

13.50% alcohol. Screw cap. $20.

90 deliciosi punti.