Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Shiraz Revolution?

A recent tasting of two of Australia's iconic single vineyard Shirazes made me think that some significant change is under way.

The first wine was the 2006 Henschke Mt. Edelstone. While this wine has a long and distinguished history, its style has actually undergone numerous changes. Its hey days were the early 90s with concentrated fruit full of flavours and well integrated oak, although sometimes vanilla was a bit too obvious. I remember that in blind tastings I ran during this time, it beat Grange a couple of times. Then came 98, generally a great vintage in the Barossa, where the Mt. Edelstone fruit was overripe and dead - a shocker for this label. During the following years, the wine remained full bodied and its fruit ripe, but it avoided excesses.

Now comes the 2006. This seems like another departure. The wine is clearly leaner, more berry than chocolate, a fair amount of mint, maybe even a bit herbal. The wine has maintained its long attractive finish. This is clearly more food friendly, but at the expense of some lushness.

Score: 94/0

The second wine is the 2008 Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock. This is a fantastic wine: zappy red and black berry fruit mixed with savoury flavours and some chocolate. The finish is also very long. This used to be a wine which battled against too high alcohol levels. The alcohol is still high, but the wine is fresh and easy to drink.

Score: 96/+++

We have single vineyard wines here, with leading edge biodynamic viticulture, and wine making which no longer follows the maxime 'bigger is always better'. The result are interesting wines, much more consumer friendly than they used to be. I will need to assess the Mt. Edelstone again. I hope it will retain the satisfying mouthfeel of the past, while slimming down somewhat. The Georgia's Paddock shows it can be done.

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