Thanks to the great late Mark Shield the first vintage of Wynns Hermitage I bought and then bought some more was 1986 for $4.99. Miraculously it’s still only $12 on special at Dan’s and I still can’t help wanting to call it Hermitage. This vintage shows the late season in cool minty Aussie bush aromas and bright red fruits. Gentle tannin and acid carry it through to a calm easy end. If you want to see just how clever an almost industrial level of broad acre, large volume Australian wine can be and still taste like an honest agency of place, then this is it. Good old Wynns. Don’t touch please TWE.
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $12.
About as far away from industrial alcoholic Shiraz as it gets. Perfumed violets, smoky Rhone and red fruits. An essence of raspberry and blood orange dances with real energy but so lightly it floats. Framed by tingling ripe acid and a smear of such fine tannin. It’s wild and earthy but not faulty. Crisp but not green. Seasoned by just a touch of pepper. Wish all those…er….vins naturels were this dazzling and clean. Probably never going to please the power and concentration seekers. Polarising without doubt.
12.50% alcohol! Cork. 27 euros.
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
Sweet dark raspberries, blood oranges, serious sneezy pepper and some bitter stalks. Lovely intensity of fruit poised on fine glassy acid and a brush of drying tannin. Almost a cherry liqueur richness making for gloss on the fruit. Foresty mulch and herbs too. Lots going on indeed. It will be interesting to see where it heads with time. If the fruit stays centre stage and the stalks and savoury bits recede to bit players then delicious resolution awaits. If not, things might look a bit too compost heap. Really hope it’s the former.
13.50% alcohol. Diam. About $40 from the fascinating Blackhearted folks and an unreliable memory.
94 points to come I hope.
From the Metcalfe region of southern Heathcote this Syrah opens with clean smoky raspberries and a touch of minty bush flavour. Quite savoury whole bunch woody spice too. All repeated on a medium bodied palate that just balances the fruit and earthy bits. Perhaps most enjoyable on day one. A touch more fruit power and riper acidity would complement the sensitive and detailed wine making. This will especially appeal to Northern Rhone aficionados. Good expression of place and vintage and far away from the over ripe and oak laden, hooray.
12.90% alcohol. Screwcap. About $25.
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.
The Grampians and Great Western, a place of quiet brilliance. Never had the scale of production or popularity but for a few of us a favourite Australian Shiraz. Somehow it makes wine without those sometimes too raucous eucalypt perfumes of Victoria. This is bright with dark berries and plums all in perfect harmony with that sweetly savoury tarry earthiness of those dusty soils. Oak’s a faint seasoning. The scale is the big hearted Aussie Shiraz but there’s a poised balance of perfume and earth, firm tannin, acid and fruit that’s unlikely in it’s subtle assurance. Given time, the fruit should get nice and sweet. Best’s go on their quiet way. In the last few vintages the alcohols are getting lower and the sense of place more in focus.
14% alcohol. Screw Cap. $25.