It seems like every Victorian producer is trying their hand with fruit from the Malakoff vineyard, with this highly respected plot just outside of Landsborough in the Pyrenees now supplying the likes of (just for starters) Between 5 Bells, Quealy, Out of Step, Fletcher Wines, Ben Haines and Mount Avoca.
While most of the attention has been on the celebrated Malakoff Nebbiolo, it was a pleasure tonight to try two different wines made from Malakoff Shiraz fruit, with the only difference really being picking dates and each winery’s handling of the grapes.
What made it even more pleasurable was just how clearly the terroir shone through on both of these wines – unmistakeably the same source, despite the stylistic differences. I tasted them as a pair and switched between the glasses constantly in a sort of wine geek-out. Fun times, if just for me.
Lethbridge Malakoff Vineyard Pyrenees Shiraz 2014
Dark, inky purple black. Serious concentration from the outset; a wine of dark fruits, extraction and thick power, the finish just a bit heavy, but lifted up by refreshing, long tannins. While it’s black and rich, there is the unmistakeable hint of mint and a lack of glycerol sweetness that marks it as cool, rather than ‘warm’ climate Shiraz, the edges tempered by sausagey savouriness and the oak a supporting, coffee background. High quality, deep and dark red with silkiness to match that punch. My only negative is that it’s a bit warm and drying through the finish, with clearly some time in bottle needed for ideal results. Best drinking: 2017-2028. 17.8/20, 92/100+. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle. Buy online: Lethbridge website
Willow Creek Vineyard Malakoff Vineyard Pyrenees Shiraz 2014
Picked earlier, half the fruit whole bunch fermented. 21 days of maceration in total. 11 months in 25% new oak. Purple, but lighter edged than the Lethbridge. The whole bunches are immediately noticeable, with a sprinkling of clove and stem to give this a spicy herbal edge. Medium bodied, compact and with defined, mouth coating tannins and some deepset, cocoa oak to fill out the palate, it feels a bit herbal and more red than black fruited at first, but the palate picks up speed as it goes along, and the extra acidity through the finish ultimately makes this a very satisfying, cool-but-rich Victorian Shiraz. The only question mark is if the whole bunch character might be a bit overpowering. Lovely wine regardless. Best drinking: 2016-2028. 18.2/20, 93/100+. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Yes. I’d also share a bottle. Buy online: Willow Creek Vineyard website