McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Shiraz # 4

Check out my other reviews of some of the Scarce Earth Project Single Vineyard wines here, here and here.

2009 Hugh Hamilton  Single Vineyard “Scarce Earth” Shiraz ($A50)

Hugh Hamilton Wines "Single Wire Vineyard"

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!

About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
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5 Responses to McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Shiraz # 4

  1. PeterP says:

    Hi Shane
    Thanks for tasting the scare earth wines, I have been enjoying reading these posts. I tasted a few recently and my favourite, from those, is the Hugh Hamilton. Like yourself I got the ‘this wine is lovely’ hit straight away. My tasting was from a freshly opened bottle, although it was poured through one of those vinturi aerators first. I was surprised at how soft and silky the tannins were and the overall balance of the wine is superb. I agree it will cellar and can also be enjoyed immediately – with a decant.

    • Lonely Grape says:

      if you get a chance I would recommend trying the Five Geese and Brash Higgins Scarce Earth wines. Both for tasting at Fall From Grace in the main street of McLaren Vale. Both excellent wines and up there as my favorites.

  2. PeterP says:

    I did taste the Five Geese but wasn’t for me on the day, I found it a little tannic and a bit disjointed in areas, probably needs more time for me, although in defence of Sue’s wine I have to say that it was my last day in the Vales, was around noon and I had just been drinking coffee and eating some chocolates at BraceGirdles and no mouth wash. Didn’t try Brash Higgins and I’m back in Brisbane now so McLaren Vale is at least another years wait for me.

    I’d like to encourage you to keep up your excellent work with this site, much appreciated! Also if you get a chance to taste any new releases from James Hook, Paul Petagna or LotXIII, I’d be very interested.

    • Lonely Grape says:

      Thanks for your support. I intend to keep blogging about McLaren Vale and I am friends with James and Paul. I keep an eye on these guys frequently. Let me know if there are others you would like me to provides updates on.

    • Lonely Grape says:

      Being in Brisbane let me know if I can get you any McLaren Vale wines through my wine sales entity –

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