Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spinifex 2008 Releases

Peter Schell, the man who is Spinifex, is alleged to have said he would kill himself if he ever made a typical Barossa Shiraz. He likes to have less ripe vines, with a lot of vitality and varietal expression. In a blind tasting, you would never pick his wines as Barossan. When I tasted some of the new releases in barrel last year, I thought he may have gone too far. The grape picking was even earlier than in previous years, and acidity quite high.

However, as finished product, the wines scrape up pretty well. Let us forget about the token white wine, the Lola, and move straight to the reds.

The 2009 Spinifex Papillon is a fairly forward wine, based on Grenache. It is fruity, but has some savoury undertones. Simple, but well made.

Score: 90/+

The 2008 Spinifex Esprit, a GSM, is more serious. The Shiraz provides more depth and body. It is a lively wine, however, the finish is a bit harsher than in previous years.

Score: 91/0

The 2008 Spinifex Taureau is based on Tempranillo, blended with three other varieties. The flavour of this wine is quite interesting. The fruit is mainly redcurrant, but the taste is predominantly herbal and the finish of this light to medium bodied wine quite acidic. This wine needs a bit of time, but will be a good food wine.

Score: 91/+

The 2008 Spinifex Bete Noir is a new wine, a straight Shiraz. How did Peter manage not to blend? This wine is dark in colour, with blackcurrant and black cherry flavours. The wine shows more fruit than the other wines, but is neither big nor sweet, with a long acidic finish. A very varietal expression of Shiraz.

Score: 93/+

The 2008 Spinifex La Maline is the former Shiraz/Viognier. The fruit is more concentrated with lifted aromas and a similar finish to the last wine. I can't help it, but I don't think that these lifted aromas suit Shiraz all that well, in particular if the wine is lively anyhow.

Score: 91/-

The 2008 Spinifex Indigene is based on Mataro and Shiraz. A little bit of Grenache was added this year. The Mataro strength changes the flavour profile to more redcurrant fruit. This wine is the biggest of all (this does not mean it is big by Barossa standards), it shows more ripeness and a weightier finish.

Score: 93/+

The stable of mainly Rhone variety based wines is ever expanding. In this way, he is similar to Torbreck. But in the winemaking, the two could not be further apart. With Spinifex the emphasis is on liveliness, varietal expression and food friendliness. He has added a different perspective to Barossa winemaking and that is great. I think he needs to watch not to get too obsessed with sourcing fruit from marginal vineyards and picking it too early.

1 comment:

Chris Plummer said...

Good write up on one of Australia's most promising wineries Alontin. It's interesting to see they named that straight shiraz 'Bete Noir'.

Chris P