Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2010 (Eden Valley, SA)
14.5%, Screwcap, $30
In Graham land, Monday night is family night. It’s the one night when everyone congregates at my parent’s house to catch up over dinner/raid the icecream stash. The atmosphere is casual, the emphasis on conversation – and catching up on the latest IQ recorded episodes of Deadliest Catch (that last bit I’m not quite down with yet. How they could make 12 seasons about crabbing still remains a point of intrigue. I did watch a bit tonight though).
My contribution to the Monday night program is, naturally, wine related, with 4-6 bottles from the sample mountain typically accompanying me. Curiously, what is most interesting about Monday nights is how little wine is really drunk, largely as everyone seems to enjoy tasting more than drinking. We’re all born wine critics obviously…
Of all the Monday night wines opened this year though, of all the Semillon and Riesling and Cabernet and rosé, I’d have to say that this Shiraz is easily the best. Even my Mum, who rarely likes full bodied Shiraz, was wooed by its richness, its weight, its sense of completeness (actually, she just really liked the creamy texture and the sweet fruit and the freshness. I liked the other things).
So why does it work? A combination of factors no doubt, starting at the vineyard level. Think biological farming (Clayton’s organics), low yields, minimal irrigation, the works. Or at least that’s what it says on the wonderfully comprehensive wine description page on the Torzi Matthews website (why don’t more wineries go into such detail? Quality, minimalist viticulture and clever winemaking should be celebrated with gusto).
Where the production of this wine steps to the left is after the grapes have been picked. That’s where the appasimento action comes in you see, those dark black/purple coloured Shiraz berries air dried on racks for an undisclosed period, in proper Amarone style, in a bid to both concentrate the grape sugars but also to concentrate the surface area (and increase tannins). Given how fresh and juicy this is, I’d have to say that the grapes weren’t dried for that long, or at least the drying was very carefully managed, particularly given the complete lack of volatility evident (given that when grapes shrivel they split, and when they split they rot and then fruit flies come… and all of it leads to VA).
Personally, I think that such crafty grape drying is a large reason why I love this wine, that classic black and blue berried Eden Valley Shiraz fruit flavour ratcheted up several notches on the intensity scale, everything looking richer, more caramelised more.. more. Yet never dehydrated. There is treacle, licorice, Biltong, coal, the works. Yet still there is fruit, lots of juicy dark fruit. The palate too carries that extra layer of bitterness ala classic Amarone, the milk chocolate oak (this spent 24 months in 40% new French hogsheads) sweetening up the middle even further and adding textural cream along the way, the palate finishing thick, puckeringly tannic and wonderfully, surprisingly fresh.
Normally I’m a cynical man and a cynical taster, but I kept coming back to this. I couldn’t not like it. I couldn’t not like the wonderful energy and concentration of the style. I put it down, I picked it back up again. Superb, ‘essence of black grapes’ juice.
Score: 18.7/20 95/100
Would I buy it? Yes.