Head Wines 2010 red duo
|A sexy Head Blonde
The Brunette is
still my favourite
Is it wrong to describe a Barossan red as ‘a little bit Rhoney’?
I called one of Alex ‘Heady’ Head’s Shiraz wines ‘Rhoney’ today and had a bit of a double take. I mean, they really are very different regions (the Barossa and the Rhone), producing very different styles of Shiraz/Syrah (in the northern Rhone at least. More convergence with the Barossan style in the south, albeit in an oft blended form). So how can they be Rhoney?
To answer that I’m looking at the restraint and the line through the finish on these two, a form that really did look rather Rhone inspired, carrying some Rhonishness inspired by old Hermitage (which I know Alex loves). A case of ‘drink great savoury Syrah, make wines that channel the best bits from them’ (which is a great formula).
The story for these two follows a quite simple path. Both are single vineyard Shiraz drawn from two quite different Barossan sites and made subtly differently, crafted to stand out as individuals rather than as a strict terroir exercise. They’re wines made to represent their site but also to fulfil a style, a wine form following terroir, a style dictated by site and channeled by winemaking ideals. Big win and character to burn. The only limitations? 200-250 dozen of each means that these are already endangered species just months after release…
Head ‘Blonde’ Shiraz Viognier 2010 14% $45
Sourced from lighter limestone clay (hence the ‘Blonde’) soils in the Stonewell subregion of the Barossa Valley, this is a blend of 98% Shiraz and 2% Viognier (the Shiraz seeing a little Viognier skins during fermentation). Personally I think the Viognier component is unnecessary, as this is clearly pretty sexy juice without the V weed fleshiness. But then again, my prejudices against Viognier are pretty well known…
What makes this good however is that it carries richness and ripeness without sweetness. Alex is consciously trying to avoid obvious sweetness in this wine, with the oak regime in particular all about lightly toasted oak and a balance between new and older wood. It still carries a quite floral nose, with the Viognier prettying up things noticeably (in context). The palate is purple and juicy too, a quite elegant and restrained expression of Barossa Shiraz with a lightly berried edge, everything finishing dry and quite vibrant.
Truly a feminine expressoin of Barossan Shiraz, there is no questioning the joy and vitality of this mid weight, floral style. 18.2/93
Head ‘Brunette’ Shiraz 2010 13.8% $45
This comes off a vineyard on the Moppa Hill in the NW Barossa (the site of an old gold mine actually), a part of the Barossa better known as ‘Grange country’. The dirt up there is a darker, redder clay/loam that generally produces richer, fuller wines. No surprises that this is a richer, darker wine, that red dirt/ironstone character making for more heartier, chocolatey wines. Oh and this also includes some stems in the mix too, a factor which (I think) gives this wine that extra edge through the finish.
Whilst the Brunette is still a Barossan Shiraz, again the message here is a measured one, that dark rich fruit tempered through the mid palate before ending stemmy and quite firm. It’s a ferrous, dark wine, a more broody red than the pretty Blonde (classic style) but with more well formed stem tannins to give depth and drive through the finish. Again this is dry, but not dried, a wonderfully mid weight, perfectly ripened Barossan Shiraz that is a little uptight to seduce just yet but has all the hallmarks of greatness. Lovely stuff. 18.6/94+