2009 Hugh Hamilton Single Vineyard “Scarce Earth” Shiraz ($A50)
The wine is made from grapes next to the scenically magnificent cellar door of Hugh Hamilton Wines. The vineyard is on Biscay Clay soils or cracking black clay know in McLaren Vale particularly between McLaren Vale and Shiraz seems to thrive in these soils. The Biscay Clays are known for their water holding properties. When we these clays are just so sticky – you know the clays that just stick to your shoes and you seem to take on so much extra weight. These same clays when dry will contract to produce quite large cracks. This contraction comes from the clays loosing their “swelling” after absorbing significant water. The wine I was tasting had been opened for 2 days and I though was looking the better for it – a look into the wine’s future indicating it would have a long cellaring life.
Straight away in the glass I though – “This is lovely”. I was right. Powerful aromas of licorice, pepper and chocolate wrapped up in an envelop of cedary fruit cake. The flavors started with black olives through to dark chocolate and fresh plums. Even though this wine could improve with cellaring, it can also be drunk now. Drink with rich slow cooked comfort foods such as a cassoulet.
2009 Primo Estate Angel Gully Clarendon Shiraz ($A75)
Clarendon is a cooler sub region of McLaren Vale and is known for producing consistent high quality wines of substance. This wine also fits that description. The wine is named Angel Gully as this is the name of the road that runs past the vineyard. The vineyard is dry grown which should also add to the concentration of flavors.
Unusually for a red wine, I get a sense of minerallity from the aroma. This was combined with deep ripe black fruits with clove spice and an black olive finish. The flavors were dominated by black fruits and olives integrated with oak and fruit tannins. Very interestingly for me was the level of acid that dominated the finish took some of the fruit character away from that same finish.
2009 Chapel Hill The Chosen Road Block Shiraz ($A55)
The 2 wines from Chapel Hill were picked at the same time and given the same wine making techniques and wood treatments – and Oh so different wines. The other standout is the packaging – the winemaker and viticulturalist have signed the labels. I find this great as there is a real indication of both areas actually making the wine. The other item was a “cut out” from the label showing the shape of the vineyard.
The Road Block is tendered using biodynamic principles and the wine has been aged for 18 months is French oak (mainly old oak) and there has been no fining or filtering to ensure a minimalistic approach to wine making with such wonderful fruit. The vineyard soil is pebbly brown sandy loam over orange to yellow clays.
The aromas started a little closed but over about 20 minutes opened with blackberry and floral notes. The flavors showed so much up front black fruits combined with significant layers of tannin. I felt the wine was a little closed at this time but the elements are there to suggest in 15+ years time this wine will be a beauty – definitely on to put away.
2009 Chapel Hill The Chosen House Block Shiraz ($A55)
The House Block is brown sandy loam over brown earth with limestone. Very different to the Road Block and only a few meters apart. The same minimalistic wine making approach as for the Road Block wine above.
The difference starts straight away. Aromas were more alive here with mulberries, olives and peaty notes. Flavors of chocolate and plums combined with star anise that are, in a word, intense. Lots of fined grained oak tannins and a lovely acid length. This wine is also a keeper, though not as tight as the Road Block wine so I suspect closer to a 10 year life required to see this wine at it’s best.
2009 Coriole The Soloist Single Vineyard Shiraz ($A45)
I would have to say this wine was a disappointment as I feel the wine is unbalanced. I have enjoyed many good Coriole wines over the years, but this was not one of them. The aromas started with lovely candied plum wood but the real enjoyment stopped there – the flavors were just too dominated by oak influences. There is no balance here. Sorry guys, this one is not for me. No balance now – no balance later!