This wine followed me home from the Samuels Gorge cellar door, along with a simple souvenir that I will never forget. It is a winery brochure, with a very crude hand drawn map and a mobile phone number on the back. The map details directions to a hidden McLaren Vale beach, the mobile number belongs to Samuels Gorge winemaker Justin McNamee.
Justin handed this brochure to us, unscripted, after a brief conversation about the highlights of McLaren Vale. The conversation itself touched on everything from the history of beach nudity, Tasmanian airports and the secrets of good ferments, all conducted whilst Justin finished off a Coopers (at 11am) after spending the night processing some of the first fruit of 2010.
What I like about this souvenir is that it reflects and epitomises the uncommon personality of Mr McNamee himself, a personality that is indelibly inked upon the artisan wines he produces.
Suitably, the 2007 Samuels Gorge Shiraz that sits in front of me now is nothing if not characterful. Deep, dark, maroon red, almost black red in colour, looking broody and, well, very McLaren Vale. It smells of earth, of cocoa powder, molasses, beef stock and those char grilled chillis that come in your stir fry. It's edged with blood too, or more like blood and bone, with just a bit of schtink. The taste? The taste is of meat, of chocolate and dried fruit, all mid palate chew & chunky texture, before finishing dry. It's that dryness that marks this as a product of the 2007 vintage and it's not for everyone, as even I found it a bit hard towards the end of the glass.
Regardless, this is a wine of uncommon texture, interest and complexity; a wine that may indeed be challenged by it's vintage foibles, but shit it's a beguiling wine. Scoring? Hard. I'm going conservative, influenced by the parching late palate. Still, much to like. Much. 17.4/91
2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism 'Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife & The Retiree columnist; National Liquor News tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer.
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