Historically, Hunter Valley Shiraz has been maximum medium bodied, quite low in alcohol, with velvety tannins, and ageworthy. Then along came the Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz with a big ripe mouthfeel and alcohol to boot. Brokenwood branched out to McLaren Vale and produced more full-bodied Shirazes and over time, in my opinion, Hunter Valley Shiraz lost its distinctiveness (with a couple of exceptions).
Then, for the last 10 years, Andrew Thomas has built a reputation of focussing on the traditional Hunter varieties, Semillon and Shiraz, and bringing out the distinctiveness of the wines' terroir. The 2003 Thomas Kiss Shiraz is now 12 years old. The colour of this wine (under cork) is still predominantly purple. It shows little bottle age. The wine is full-bodied and ripe, but not overripe. The dark fruits taste of blackberry and blueberry, but the taste is quite savoury, with some secondary characteristics coming through. An attractive spice mix adds to the complexity.
This is a well balanced wine. It has some of the typical Brokenwood characteristics, but the alcohol at 14% is not obvious. The tannins are strong, but also show velvety character. This is a bigger wine than a historic Hunter Shiraz, but not as ripe as a typical South Australian Shiraz. The Kiss delivers a happy medium. It is holding up well after 12 years. The Kiss Shiraz should be included in the top three Hunter Valley Shirazes.