2017 The Story Wines Grampians Syrah

It’s always a joy when time and patience prove me wrong for the better, again. First bottle of this a couple of years ago seemed too green with stems and lacking fruit power. To such an extent, I passed on writing anything and buying another. When a mixed six pack email offer popped up and Rory the Story maker said it was a favourite cool and graceful vintage, perhaps time for another go? Goodness, he’s right. In two years the fruit has gained sweet weight. The scribble reads, rich but contained, generous spicy plums, dark cherry, tar and pepper, all wrapped up in sinews of mouth puckering tannin, stem, skin and oak riding on natural feeling acidity. Top notes of raspberry and a haze of sappy stems. If a dodgy memory serves, there’s echoes of those beautifully medium weight Shiraz from the eighties before Australia knew what Syrah meant.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $30 RRP, less proportionally as part of the bargain mixed six pack which looks to be still live on The Story website thestory.com.au

94 points and great value.

2020 Eastern Laneway Vintners Grampians Shiraz

Maybe Aldi’s astute wine buyers have a soft spot for Grampians Shiraz too? Not exactly the most prolific region to plunder for the volumes needed to fill supermarket shelves. This is the second one spotted on those dangerously slippery shelves in the last year. You try taking a bottle out to read the label and then attempt to put it back on those rollers. My first 2020 from a vintage that’s going to be remembered in so many ways. At least the Grampians avoided the smoke from the awful east coast bushfires. This bottle opened with regional mint and damp Australian forest smells. Good build of whole berry red fruit, pepper and a little Grampians tar, earth and pepper emerged with air. Unobtrusive tannins and gentle acidity do enough to even thing up. The burst of youthful fruit is a good distraction from perhaps not the most concentrated of mouthfuls. Nonetheless a $12 wine that drinks like a $25 bottle and nudges you toward a sense of place. The..er..Story behind this Aldi own label may interest the curious reader as the maker’s address is also the home of R. Lane Vintners who make one of the best interpretations of Grampians Shiraz, ever. Coincidence?

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.

88 became 89 points over two days.

2019 Abbotts and Delaunay Syrah Pays d’Oc

Another from this producer’s budget single variety range. Bursts forth immediately with heaps of red summer berries, brown baking spices and pepper, yep, it’s Syrah. Floral perfume adds detail and a whisper of sulphide keeps it savoury. Bouncy fruit of quality above its simple appellation. Crisp natural acidity and a brush of ripe skin tannin. No complications or complaints, just a good whack of deep, drink me now fruit. Again great sourcing and careful making. Winner with your dinner if it’s piggy.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. Bargain $13 introductory special.

91 points.

2016 Tardieu Laurent Saint Joseph Vieilles Vignes

The Laurent part of the partnership has been notorious for extreme barrel action over the years and this does nothing to mitigate opinion. A haze of nutty vanilla oak floats high in the aromas but lurking below is some beautiful summer pudding fruit pushing the vanilla back to a mere seasoning. Then that over used French word terroir comes roaring through in blasts of smoke, rocks and minerals. Great depth and composure, no hard edges just round deep fruit, refreshing minerals, mouthwatering acidity and emery fine tannin. In the battle between timber and grapes, the latter take a comfortable win but why get in the fight in the first place?

13% alcohol. Long fancy cork. $50.09 at auction.

94 points.

2013 Eden Road The Long Road Gundagai Syrah

So very Australian to be on the long road to Gundagai, now bypassed, once a stop on the interminable drive from Melbourne to Sydney. This was a fine drink when released five years or so ago. Some turning up at auction for about the same as the original discount price gave reason to see how age treats the stems and all style of modern Shiraz from a good vintage. Well, there’s certainly mulch and undergrowth but time sweetened red fruits of some purity and good ripeness build well. Tar, pepper and spice too. Lick of old oak. Settled acidity mingles well with the stalky tannin. Probably at its zenith but not going to fade that quickly. Seems a good spot for Shiraz, the warm climate tempered by cool nights at altitude. That odd ode about dogs sitting on tucker boxes still makes me wonder if its owner ever got to their sandwiches.

13% alcohol and nicely ripe. Screw cap. $24.50.

92 points, almost more for that just right fruit ripeness.

1995 Galah Wine Shiraz

One of the good things about getting old is being able to spot absolute bargains from the past that hopefully elude those youngsters scanning the auction sites. From grapes grown on venerable Wendouree vines in the Clare Valley and turned into wine by Stephen George at Ashton Hills in the Adelaide Hills. A sideline that sadly ended with the 2002 vintage I think. Despite 1995 being perhaps the worst of vintages in SE Australia, the Clare Valley fared better than some. I remember driving through Coonawarra in May that year to see a good part of the crop left to rot on the vine. Aromas of Australian forest still perfume along with exotic brown spices, dark cherries and leathery caramel showing 25 years of age. Still a good red colour and plenty of broad acidity and ripe settled tannin, large but flowing so evenly, a true Wendouree treat. Touch of mint and some pepper mixed into that characteristic swell of deep fruit hint at the cooler vintage. Maybe not the full throttle of the great vintages but still a formidable mouthful. To some of us 1995 seems as close as yesterday.

13% alcohol. Cork, one of those ASA branded ones that seem to do a relatively good job. $29 at auction which is about a fifth of what a Wendouree label would fetch.

94 pushing 95 points considering age.

2017 Yangarra Estate Shiraz

South Australia may have built a formidable reputation for rich, generous Shiraz but it’s Grenache that seems a better fit to climate for my less than populist geek view. So, a few bottles in a damaged label six pack at the wholesaler’s annual clearance, or frenzy as it’s known hereabouts, promised a good chance to see what a favourite producer are doing. Very well in short. A touch of dusty bottle development already, tar and deep brown spices. Tangy plums suit the spice well. Sucking in oxygen over two days and it freshened up to include rich summer and autumn berries touched by chocolate. Terrific shape through the mouth with settled acidity well moulded to a sweep of stem and skin tannin. Any oak influence a mere afterthought. Sweet earth to season and a purple haze lingers. Compact and very well made. So different to those booze soaked, oaky, acid adjusted monsters of yore. Very happy to have another waiting a few years. Beautiful grape growing.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $35 RRP and still great value at that.

94 points.

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.

2018 Giant Steps LDR Pinot Noir and Syrah

Count my blessings, a place to live where the Covid numbers aren’t troubling the scorer and a bottle to remember very early days in Australian wine when they cared not for variety but made light dry reds by blending. Sadly I’ve never been privy to one of the great Maurice O’Shea blends. Despite an unreasonable prejudice for Pinot the pure, this works a treat. Perfume and cherry Pinot at hello, spice and raspberry arrive late and keep going on a bit. It was at first crack smoky and too reduced for me and needed a day’s air. Second day, there’s still some biscuity reduction, strawberry and roses at the front whilst that Shiraz has a party at the back with berries and toffee. Fine, open meld of acidity and a lick of stem tannin. Graceful in the making. So much for preconceptions, the some of the parts here is more.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. Another bargain from the wholesale clearance.

92 plus a bit for enjoyment.

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.