Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Standish Wine Company (A Must Read)

I was lucky enough to be the first Australian reviewer of the new 2018 Standish wines. They have only been tasted by Joe Czerwinski of the Wine Advocate prior. The conclusion is clear: Dan Standish currently makes the best Barossa Shiraz - there, I said it. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, his wines are powerful (as they should be), but with a lot of energy and drive at the same time. Secondly, there is sufficient acidity in these wines to give them freshness. The reason might be that his yields are very low: 0.5-1t/acre. As a result, the grapes ripen a bit earlier and can be picked earlier while fully ripe. Thirdly, the terroir really shines through in these wines. So lets get to it.

Relic, The Standish, Andelmonde,Schubert Theorem, Lamella

The 2018 Andelmonde comes from an east facing vineyard in light pass. The soil is sandy and the vines are 60 years old. This wine is the most fragrant (well, the only fragrant) wine in the line-up. It is fresh, elegant and made with a lot of finesse. There are beautiful spice flavours on the palate, and the dark fruit shows excellent depth, before finishing on fine tannins; a beauty (97 points).

The 2018 Relic comes from the 1912 Hongell Family vineyard on rocky soils in Krondorf. It includes 2% Viognier. It is dark fruited and a classic Standish. The blackberry and plum is rich, with licorice and mocca in the mix.  This wine has a lot of energy driving the complex flavours down the palate. This is quite a tannic wine with a very long finish - an absolute Barossa classic (99 points*).

The 2018 The Schubert Theorem comes from 6 parcels on Roennfeldt Road in Marananga. This is a strange label, because it is impossible to read. It shows the mathematical formula, which basically means, to solve the overall problem, you can do it by looking at each component and putting them together. The analogy is putting the wine together from these different parcels - and the core vineyard is the Schubert vineyard. The vines are surprisingly young: 20-25 years, but they produce powerful fruit from the hot micro-climate and the quartz infused soil. The fruit profile is the most complex in the line-up: lavender, blueberry, red and black plum. These flavours are very layered. The wine has big palate weight and is very intense with a round mouthfeel. Drying tannins lead to a solid finish (98 points).

The 2018 The Standish comes from the Laycock Family vineyard in Greenock. The soil includes very heavy ironstone, and the vines are 20 years old. In its profile, the wine is similar to the Relic; long rather than wide in the mouth. This is the most tannic wine in the line-up. The dark fruits, blackberry and plum, are intense. Some have compared the flavour profile of this label to Grange. The wine has a massive, but balanced structure. The drying tannins lead to a super long aftertaste (99 points*).

The 2018 Lamella comes from the 100 year old Hutton Vale Farm in Eden Valley. This vineyard is situated between Mt. Edelstone and Hill of Grace. The higher altitude is responsible for a different flavour profile. Raspberry, pomegranate, even rhubarb, and white pepper deliver the complex flavour. Again, the tannins are long and dry. This label has gained quite an interest, as Eden Valley becomes more popular during our warming climate. However, on this occasion, I found the Barossa wines more dramatic and impressive (97 points).

This has been an extraordinary tasting. The wines are not cheap in absolute terms, but given the lofty standard, they are great value when compared to the top Henschke or Penfolds wines.

*I have in the past been critical of a 99 point score. If it is that good, why not a hundred? However, I could not quite get convinced these wines could not get any better.


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas,
Having followed this label for 3 years or so, and enjoyed the hospitality of Dan at Cellar Door (some Cellar Door) you've touched on several elements of this producer that leaves me a little dumbstruck, but in a good way.
As you say, the massiveness.....yet there is a balance.......and the handling of the abv, the fruit just seems to take it in its stride.
A remarkable array of wines!
And in my limited opinion, quite reasonably priced.


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas,

I’d be interested in your tasting regime for the Standish wines overall?
Pop and pour, a decent decant or something else.
I’ve noticed while you’ve called the wines big in weight and flavour you haven’t made any comments that I could connect with elevated abv, which is very encouraging for Barossa Shiraz.


Alontin said...

Good questions, Colin.

At the winery, I tasted from bottle. They were open, as I had scheduled my visit; not sure for how long. At home, I would decant these wines, as they can unfold a lot of different flavours, but probably not more than for an hour. Mind you, they would still be good on day 2.

In relation to abv, my thoughts are firstly: as you know, the labeling does not need to be accurate. I feel some Barossa Shiraz labeled at 14% or 14.5% is more likely 15-15.5%. If Standish is accurate at 14-14.5%, this would make a difference.

But secondly, and probably more importantly, fresher wines 'suck up' alcohol better than ripe wines. Added to this the fruit weight in the Standish wines, and you have a scenario where the alcohol does not stand out.

Does this make sense to you?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it makes sense.
However, The 2017 Theorem I tried recently had both freshness and fruit weight. In particular the fruit weight was a particular highlight for me, though the abv was evident on the nose and palate, and as a consequence I’m kind of glad I only have one more as I don’t expect to see significant changes to that element of the wine over time.
From your past writings your dislike of elevated abv appears to be similar to mine. I think your review of the ‘18 vintages of the Standish suite and your lack of comments of any obvious abv descriptors led to my purchase from Dan of both, The Lamella and Theorem.
As a Melbourne Winter seems to have come earlier this year I’ll be intrigued to see how the Theorem stands up.

Best wishes