2011 Wendouree Shiraz

There was much bemoaning the 2011 vintage in quite a bit of Victoria and SA. Well, it was very soggy and cool for days in summer. Nevertheless, comes the test and if the vineyard’s ancient, deep rooted and seen worse, then there’s reason to believe it won’t be a waste of money to support this oversubscribed treasure. Comparisons, here we go again, are maybe less than odious if they help with context. If the 2011 Malbec had Wendouree packing up its flavours and taking them on a trip to Barbaresco to find its structure, then this Shiraz seems to have swapped the usual iron and velvet for a finer acid based frame from somewhere like Saint Joseph. In fact this is delight for those sniffy North Rhône fanciers, dark brown spices, menthol, Oz bush and bracken lift and season just ripe cherries and very ripe raspberries, harmonious and sotto voce. Floating and crisp rather than that usual firm velvet fog. Makes a nonsense of trying to fetish the favoured vintages, Wendouree way the bottle always seems too small.

13.7% alcohol. Screw cap. Thanks for keeping the faith dear C.

93 points but more soul than some bigger scores.

2017 Hervé Souhaut Syrah

Time seems to pass so quickly, the first vintage of this quintessential natural wine that won my heart was 1999. A discovery at that Paris haven of real wine, Caves Augé. Some years later and it seems as if the wine making just gets better and the results appear finer, more perfumed and poised. There’s that floral, smoky raspberry thing typical of the Northern Rhône and perhaps also characteristic of whole grape Syrah ferments? Amazingly perfumed, that typicity plus brown baking spices, a riot of autumn berries and rocks. Rich fruit floats on supremely ripe but crisp acidity. Tannin to support, gently. The essence of flavour ripe Syrah on featherweight frame. Just so clean and focused, brilliant craft. Low alcohol too, liver approved.

12.5% alcohol. Nomacorc Green Select. $40 at auction which was good as the RRP is rising most unfairly.

2015 Wynns Coonawarra Estate V and A Lane Shiraz

Well, the WordPress platform can be odd. I tried using an ampersand between V and A as it appears on the label and when it saves it turns into & …..bizarre. So, “and” it is. Conjunctions aside, this is an elegant, for want of a better word, fresh and sort of subtle Shiraz, an antidote to the high alcohols of the late nineties and early two thousands. I can clearly remember a 1980 Leconfield Cabernet drunk in the nineties that was the essence of sweetly perfumed pillow softness and somehow this echoes the memory. Starts with noticeable oak, albeit not too raucously so, then in sweeps pepper, spice and just ripe red fruits that last and perfume the mouth. Soft but positive tannin and acidity match the composed flow of flavour. Even after a couple of days oxygen, it stayed tightly bound, suggesting a future of slow resolution in the best tradition of great claret wherever it’s made…..and no buts about it.

13.1% alcohol, AND better for it. Screw cap. $35 Dan Murphy clearance, thank you very much.

93+ points.

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.

2015 Luke Lambert Syrah

This is so far away from what Australian Shiraz tasted like twenty years ago it’s probably earned the rather precious Syrah title. Over three days it proved to be a slippery enigma, albeit a delicious one. So many things, stalks, pepper, salami, sweet rhubarb, tart raspberry, aniseed and rocks. No sweet allure, adult dryness strung out on tight cables of tannin and perky natural acidity. By the second day, there’s a revolving door of green stem and sweeter summer pudding red fruit. On the third day, the last glass the best, absolute essence of peppered raspberries. So fine and delicious. Medium bodied, it shows the flavours of Yarra Shiraz can pitch to note perfect ripeness. Sort of a grown ups’ fizzy drink, there was still a good phhtt of dissolved CO2 as the cork came out of a two thirds empty bottle on day three. Better that than sherried Syrah perhaps?

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 618 gms of glass. $40 ish on release.

Started out 93 puzzle points, then 95 by the end.

2012 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz

Heritage on a week night budget. Still fresh as the air hits, a little age seems to have rounded the fruit and softened the bones. Complete sweet spice box, lots of very ripe fat plums, dark berries, tar and a regional hit of mineral water salinity. Tannin ripe and soft. It’s just amazing how such broad acre, economy of scale production produces something so authentic and tasty for so little cost. It’s been a long time since the 1986 vintage that first won my heart.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 584 gms of glass. $15 Dan’s cellar special.

91 points.

2010 Les Vins de Vienne Saint Joseph L’Arzelle

Three really good wine producers of the northern Rhône, Cuilleron, Villard and Gaillard got together for this label and produced some great value. Briefly imported into Australia by Dan Murphy’s, sadly no more. Seems to have enjoyed its slumber in bottle, opens with clean, almost new worldly so, smoky red fruits, sort of those raspberry, loganberry or blackberry flavours all mixed up. There’s also brown spices, pepper, a bit of the old charcuterie and incense. Over time a waft of violet on top. Still bright and jaunty. Just so, ripe tannin and acidity are superbly tucked in. A treat on a very cold night, cockles warmed alright.

13.5% alcohol. Fancy 50mm cork. Not sure why Dan’s stopped importing but there’s always the bargain clearance pricing. Just wish I’d bought more than one.

93 points.

2018 B minor Grampians Shiraz

So good to see more Grampians’ Shiraz made in small detailed batches by a number of smart young, well relatively so, creatives. This one looks as if all the variations of whole bunch and berries have been played. Over three days the main theme of spice, florals and bright berries kept recurring as notes of mulch, sage, regional mint and bush added colour. After a reasonable sample range, from these newer interpretations to the warmer, riper and oakier 1990s styled, there does seem to be a gloss of summer pudding fruit to these 2018 Grampians Shiraz, pretty delicious really. Interpreted here in a way that will challenge some perhaps. Only just medium bodied, driven by acidity despite a mattress of woody stem tannin, it’s definitely one for the Rhône fanciers. The reward is pristine violet perfumed raspberries and spice, the anchor those stems and damp earth bass notes. Almost discordant to some, modern harmony to others. At its most delicious on day three, that must say something.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $34.

Started 92, ended up high side of 93 points.

2004 Wendouree Shiraz

To remind myself why patience is very much a virtue while waiting for the annual mail, as in snail, purchase from my favourite Australian red wine producer, must be time to open one. Wendouree Shiraz always commands the highest price on the secondary market but its first amongst equals position is debatable, especially with the fascination of vintage variations. The cork is well behaved, letting deep flavours of brown spices, linseed oil and biscuits emerge. Lurking like a dark foreboding presence under a calm sea is a sinking depth charge of profound red fruit. This detonates splendidly after twenty four hours, spreading very spicy chunks of cherry fruit all over the mouth. The kind of ripe full but caressing tannin that only great grapes possess. Perfect firm acidity. Just as it finishes there’s a flickering glimpse of the first signs of caramel decay or maturity depending on how much you like old things. A lot in this case.

13.3% alcohol. Cork. $45 in 2006. The mail out also notes grapes from 1919 Eastern vineyard and 1893 Central vineyard.

Started about 93 points ended up the high side of 95.

2006 The Story Westgate Vineyard Shiraz

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.