Well, I am back now, with a couple of interesting reviews coming up in the next few days. This blogpost is about a tasting of most of the current Heathcote Shiraz releases which were reviewed by the Gourmet Wine Traveller Magazine. I have not had any exposure to Heathcote Shiraz in the last couple of years. Therefore it was timely to get an overview. Heathcote has a special soil, the dark red Cambrian soil. And the Shiraz is very different from its South Australian counterparts. This wine tastes predominantly of red fruit, an intense kirsch flavour.
I tasted 17 wines and in my assessment, they fall into two groups. But before I get to this, I want to highlight two producers: The 2012 Windy Peak Shiraz is $14 per bottle. This is quite a vibrant and juicy wine and great value at this price (89 points). The other, better known producer is Tar & Roses, who produce a very serious Shiraz at $20 per bottle. Their 2010 Shiraz had excellent depth in their fruit and a finely balanced structure (91 points).
Now, the first group disappointed me, as these wines all lacked elegance. I gave these wines 88 to 91 points, they were 2010 Shadowfax One Eye, 2010 Wanted Man White Label, 2011Sanguine Estate Progeny, 2010 Ellis Wines, 2012 Windy Peak, 2010 Heathcote Estate Single Vineyard, 2010 Tar & Roses, 2009 Heathcote Winery Curagee, 2010 Bress Gold Chook, 2010 PHI Single Vineyard Syrah Grenache. The Heathcote Estate Shiraz was the best in this group.
The wines in the second group were enjoyable to drink. The 2008 Vinea Marson Syrah is an unusual wine in this group (and I have experienced this previously as well). This wine is lighter bodied, with floral flavours and very fine tannins. It would be a Burgundy drinker's favourite (93 points). The 2010 Tellurian Tranter Shiraz was more typical for the region: intense fruit characters, but not juicy, and a harmonious package (92 points). The two Sanguine wines in this bracket were jockeying for wine of the night. The 2010 Sanguine Estate Shiraz was very vibrant, and had quite a strong tannin structure, which I enjoyed more on my second tasting (93 points). The 2008 Sanguine D'Orsa Reserve Shiraz, their flagship wine, was immediately appealing. It was smooth and elegant with a long finish, but a little sweet for my taste. The 15% alcohol level would make it difficult to drink more than a glass (93 points). And finally there was the 2010 Mitchelton Shiraz, which topped the Gourmet Wine Traveller tasting. It had a good balance between sweet and savoury flavours - a harmonious wine with fine tannins, but to me it did not have enough mouthfeel and had a somewhat short finish (92 points).
Overall, I was a little disappointed. There were some strong producers missing from this tasting (Jasper Hill, Wild Duck Creek, Seppelt Mt. Ida), but if this is the best the region can offer, it cannot compare with the icons of McLaren Vale or the Barossa.