Friday, July 1, 2016

Amazing Australian Shiraz Tasting (180 Current Releases)

A full house at this tasting

As you can imagine, this was a pretty comprehensive tasting. Still, some significant producers were missing, most notably Penfolds. However there were a lot of interesting wines to try. I managed about 30, mostly ultra premium.

The overall impression? A move to elegance, elegance, elegance, with elegance and power being the holy grail. 

The two most impressive wines for me were the 2013 Langmeil Orphan Bank, and the 2012 Clarendon Hills 'Astralis'. These were quite different wines, though. The Langmeil Orphan Bank has an interesting history. It consists of individual very old vines (100 years plus), which have been moved and put together into a vineyard near the winery. Thus the name. The vineyard is near the Para River on alluvial soil, which is quite rich. The wine is elegant, with significant, but not overpowering fruit depth. This is a well balanced wine with a lasting smooth finish. The Astralis is a bigger, full-bodied wine, yet elegant as well. The tannins are silky, and so is the finish. The second Clarendon Hills wine on tasting, the 2013 Domaine Clarendon shared some of these characteristics. It is not as intense, but excellent value at a fraction of the price.

Six other wines stood out for me:
- 2012 Head Redhead, from a high altitude vineyard in Eden Valley (very elegant)
- 2014 Glaetzer Amon-Ra, with beautiful blackberry fruit and a similar profile to the Langmeil wine, but not as precise and penetrating
- 2013 Anstead & Co No 1 from Bendigo, a well balanced wine from a producer I know nothing about and cheap as chips
-2013 Mount Langi Ghiran, with its usual pepper flavours, a smooth wine with good length
-2014 Spinifex Bete Noir, black fruited, smooth, and feminine
-2013 Spinifex La Mouline, a more masculine wine with grip, but still elegant. 

The next group of wines were good, but not outstanding: 2013 Sidewood Mappinga, 2014 SC Pannell, 2014 Andrew Thomas 'Sweetwater', 2012 Elderton 'Command', 2012 KT 'Churinga Vineyard', 2013 Two Cells, 2012 Craiglee, 2014 Head 'Brunette', 2014 Teusner 'Big Jim, 2013 Teusner 'Albert', 2012 Teusner 'Righteous' FG

Then there was a group of highly regarded wines, which were generally good, but lacked in one aspect. This I will mention. If this does not bother you, these may be for you
- 2012 St. Hallett Old Block - a bit light
- 2012 Henschke Mt. Edelstone - minty, quite ripe
-2009 Jim Barry 'The Armagh' - oak quite pronounced
- 2013 Brokenwood 'Graveyard' - an element of harshness
-2014 Head 'Blonde' - a bit light

The disappointments were
- 2014 Best's Bin O - very minty, not balanced
- 2014 Heathcote Slaughterhouse - faulty?
- 2014 Tyrell's Stevens - basic, but almost made the 'good' group
- 2012 Kay Brothers Block 6 - traditional, in your face
- 2012 Smidge 'The Smitch' - plastic taste, brett

Overall, an impressive showing, with many different expressions of Shiraz. South Australia still dominates. 

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