The first-ever ‘serious’ red wine I bought was a 1998 St Hallett Faith Shiraz back in 2000. I had just turned 19 and was working in a bottle shop where I spent my days ogling old St Henri & early 90s Wynns Centenary. My misty-eyed recollections paint that Faith Shiraz as the best wine (up to that point) that I had ever tasted, and I can still remember the palate shape. Great memories. There will always be a soft spot for St Hallett in my heart as a result.
As for this new St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2016, it feels, well different. Much like the Blackwell, the style shift is palpable even if the DNA is typical Old Block. It feels more polished, but maybe a little too much so. Too new school for a proudly old school wine.
The bottle now comes with a full essay on the back and I like the detail – 51% Barossa Valley, 49% Eden Valley fruit. The average vine age is 92 years old, with nothing under 40 years old. pH 3.51, TA 6.7g/L for the anoraks.
Deep and decadent, it at least smells much more like the classic St Hallett mode. Deep, purple/red fruited, the oak a coffeed background shade, the palate ripe and blueberried, plush, round, and alcoholic. It’s not heavy, not hearty, more plush. Enjoyable too. But then it finishes tart, a bit warm and round. It says ‘I love you’ but the hug is a bit perfunctory.
Generous, but a little simple too. I admire the length, the concentration, the Barossa black fruit core. This is indeed quality wine, hence the gold medal score. But I think I’ve loved previous vintages just a little bit more. Best drinking: now and for at least 15 years. 18.5/20, 94/100. $159.99, 14.6%. St Hallett website. Would I buy it? I can’t justify the price this year.