It’s been a rough few weeks here at Graham HQ, and I’ve not been feeling much like tasting wine at all. Alcohol, instead, has felt like a crutch, sustaining me through the darkness. Critical appraisal then comes a lonely, distant second, and wine is a drink, not a subject for thought.
Thankfully I’m talking in the past tense, and this week is feeling rosier. Or at least shades of rosiness. And what better way to gently ease back in than with a wine that shows a little heart?
The remit of this red is obvious – to prove that Shiraz, good Shiraz, can be made without added preservatives. For any lover of natural wine, of course, this is a rhetorical question. But on a wider scale? It’s an argument, not a statement.
Still, there is a precedent here, with Joch & Louise at Battle of Bosworth demonstrating that ‘preservative free’ (or technically no an added preservative) McLaren Shiraz can be achieved. This Inkwell red just pushes the point home.
Crucially, this feels anything but contrived. Save for the slight spritz of extra CO2 (the preservative-phobic winemaker’s friend), you’d be looking hard to see any influence from a lack of that most archaic of preservatives, SO2,
Instead, this is all about bright purple and licorice fruit, coming in a flow of juicy purple-ness. True, it’s not as detailed as the older, oak-matured Inkwell wines. But it doesn’t lack for heart, the fruit packing a genuine sandy grip that feels compellingly honest and utterly authentic. It’s Vale Shiraz dammit, from the very first approach, even if it’s lighter, and with a bare nakedness that doesn’t lean towards structure and width.
Sure, it would be easy to just sight the vital fruit here and move on. But that is missing the extra appeal that comes courtesy of grapes in the right place, turned into the right wine, by someone on the right course.
I can’t help but quietly applaud. Unashamedly simple fare, but the simplicity here is one of joy, not price-point constraints, nor of cynicism and category pandering. It’s just what you want a ‘sans preservative’ McLaren Vale Shiraz to be.
Best drinking: 2016-2020. 17/20, 90/100. 13.4%, $25. Would I buy it? Yes I would.