Scarborough The Obsessive Shiraz 2014
Scarborough is Hunter Valley Chardonnay.
It’s a symbiotic relationship that has, ultimately, driven both the success of Scarborough and the popularity of the variety in the region. It’s that influential.
As important as Chardonnay clearly is to this Hunter stalwart (great word that), Scarborough has moved beyond Chard to broaden the appeal. Heck, they are now championing Hunter Vermentino.
There ares still multiple Chardonnay variants (spearheaded by the evergreen Yellow Label), but this winery is no longer just a one grape pony.
Still, I wasn’t expecting this Shiraz to be so impressive. We’re not talking the head-turning, attention-grabbing sort of impressive, but a slow-build, every-taste-gives-more impressive that leaves you convinced it’s quality wine and ultimately wanting more.
That quality starts from the source, the fruit coming off the Vanessa Vale Vineyard on Hermitage Rd, not far from the Scarborough winery (ie prime dirt). While it’s not superstar dirt – like Ken Bray’s vineyard down the road, or Tallawanta – but certainly well regarded.
In the winery, this was given a five day cold soak (unusual in the Hunter), hand plunged (not unusual) and matured for 18 months in new French oak (unusually long time in the Hunter. Unusually new oak too).
Given such treatment, though, I was cautiously expecting an overwrought wine. That much oak in lighter Hunter years would deliver an oakasaurus, with any notion of delicacy lost. But in the ‘once in a lifetime’ ‘pangs of 1965’ vintage of 2014? It just delivers.
2014 will forever be known for its great colour, and this is bright purple, even at 3 years-old. It smells of lifted boysenberry with a vein of vanilla (hello oak), plus dark plum varietal fruit for good measure.
Underneath, it’s the sort of wine that builds power incrementally. The oak picks up where the fruit finishes off, completed by a thick, earthy, almost meaty back end. Indeed it’s a grunty, atypical Hunter Shiraz in a mode that is usually confined to the likes of Andrew Thomas (who can craft full-bodied yet balanced Hunter Shiraz). Muscular is a good word, and only further lifted by oak fullness. Of note also is how balanced the finish looks – 13.7% and perfectly ripe/even.
A bold, warm vintage Hunter Shiraz in a very enjoyable style.
Best drinking: 2017-2037. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.7%, $60. Would I buy it? I don’t know if I’d buy it, but would like some in the cellar.