For this week’s entertainment, I thought I’d pull out all the Shiraz dominant blends that aren’t your usual suspects and ended up with these six wines.
Some are just slightly unconventional (like non GSM from Grant Burge) and others sit firmly in OMG territory (hello d’Arenberg). But there’s fun here, and a reminder, for the 11,000th time, that blends are much more interesting than straight varieties. Even the Burgundians slip in some ‘native grapes’, so go figure.
Soumah The Butcher 2016
Another entry in the ‘Soumah are doing good things’ file. This eclectic Yarra blend consists of 44% Shiraz (called Syrah), 33% Cabernet and 23% Nebbiolo that spends 18 months in 50% new French oak. It’s ripe, it’s chunky (in the ’16 vintage mode) and dense, with Cherry Ripe, hints of dried leaf and black pepper. This feels muscular, dense and firm, the palate getting grippier and denser the further you dive in. It’s perhaps a little too dense and grippy wth the black leafy fruit eventually ending up with a little black liqueur warmth to finish, but the power and weight of this make it so convincing, even if you’d not automatically think Yarra Shiraz (or Cabernet).
Best drinking: Likely even better in 2-3 years time. 18/20, 93/100+. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Grant Burge Abednego Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2014
For the most part the Grant Burge house style hasn’t changed since Grant sold the business. Still full and chunky styles. This is a blend of old vine fruit, with some plots up to 100yrs old. Interestingly, it tastes more Grenache dominant than expected – more red fruit juiciness. Only medium bodied, with spicy, almost leathery purple fruit, sprightly acidity and then decent tannin grip to finish. I like the ‘mediumness’, with moderate alcohol, meaty kirsch fruit and balanced acidity. Less is more, and this is really quite enjoyable.
Best drinking: Good now and for a decade easy. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $74.99. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass but can’t stomach the price for a full bottle.
d’Arenberg The Old Bloke and The Three Young Blondes Shiraz Roussanne Viognier Marsanne 2011
Yeah now this is taking Rhone blends to the next level. 3% of each of the whites. Ignore the $200 pricetag, as it doesn’t seem right. But there’s interest in here, and even a certain grace. Clearly flashy oak but it’s maturing nicely, with mushroom and black spicy pepper. Hard to see the whites, which is a good thing, and there’s no mistaking the black, leaf litter characters of the vintage. It’s not truly cohesive, but this sneaks up on you – there’s layers of herb, meat, the whole spice draw and it’s long.
Best drinking: Good now, though it will hold for a few more years before the decline. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.2%, $200. Would I buy it? No.
Hugh Hamilton Dark Arts Three-Card Monte 2016
Part of the weird Dark Arts collection. I like weird (in small doses). This is a blend of 44% Shiraz, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Montepulciano. Rhone/Bordeaux/Abruzzo in old world terms. Interesting. Polished purple black fruit, with chocolatey oak and dark tannins, it’s grippy, it’s oak coiffed and it’s substantial, if a bit raw. Lots of dark plush blackberry flavour here, and it’s firm and dark. You want intensity? You got it. Maybe not an easy drink, but so much dark berry flavour, even some Italianate furry meatiness to the tannins.
Best drinking: Now to, oh, next decade. 17.5/20, 91/100. $33. Would I buy it? A glass.
Hugh Hamilton Dark Arts Black Ops 2016
Now it’s McLaren Vale via Kahketi. 66% Shiraz and 34% Saperavi. Plush purple fruit, with a grippy licorice, thick black and briary edge. Has Shiraz juiciness and that Saperavi bitter sweet cola thing too, the palate rather sweet fruited (helped by oak) to counteract the tannins. It’s a bit gruff, but plump through the middle. I’m not sure I could drink much of this, but it’s certainly chunky.
Best drinking: Now to at least ten years. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $33. Would I buy it? Not really.
Taltarni Shiraz Mourvedre 2016
This is one of the more approachable Taltarni reds. Cocoa coconut berry oak driven nose and a palate of impact. There’s a proper intensity to the palate though, and there’s a certain Mourvedre licoricey blackness too. It is a bit oak touched and the alcohol is bitter, but it’s not short of impact and spicy purple fruit. Punch and flavour for a fair price.
Best drinking: I’d wait a year or so, and it will live for probably 15 years. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $26. Would I buy it? A glass.