New Release Shiraz
Barry Weinman: 24th January 2016
When the temperature is nudging 40° C, tasting Shiraz and blends is not the easiest task, as keeping the wines cool (around 20 degrees) can be a challenge.
This is also an issue for drinking red wines in general in summer. A decent steak on the BBQ deserves a good quality wine, but the temperature at which the wine is served at can markedly alter the way the wine tastes.
As the wine warms up, the alcohol and sweetness can become more obvious, whilst the fruit can take on stewed characters.
Typically, I like to drink my red wines at “cellar” temperature, which is around 18° – 20° C. The balance and structure seems to be at its best around this point. Much cooler and the fruit characters can become quite subdued.
Even so, once poured, the wine quickly warms up in the glass.
There is no perfect solution. For this tasting, whilst the wines left the cellar at the right temperature, by the time they were served, they were a touch warm. Thirty minutes in the bar fridge did just the trick, bringing the fruit into focus.
At home, I will put the bottle and decanter in the fridge for up to an hour before serving. The wine will be a little too cold when first poured, but will quickly warm up to an appropriate temperature. I also only decant part of the bottle initially if there is only a couple of us, so that the remainder stays cool.
Bird in Hand – Shiraz – Mt Lofty Ranges – 2014 (18). Rich, peppery, fresh fruit on the nose. The palate is polished, silky, generous and plush, yet the balance is spot on, courtesy of the well-judged acidity. The fruit is concentrated, plump and round, with no rough edges. A wine that is perfectly suited to drinking now, or with a few years in the bottle. Delicious. (RRP $42).
Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2013 (18+). Lovely fruit over gentle oak and cinnamon/spice. This is a lighter bodied style, with excellent balance and poise. Silky mouth-feel adds to the appeal. Very fine and long, a delight to drink now, or in 5 – 10 years. (RRP $43).
Streicker – Shiraz – Bridgeland Block – Syrah – 2012 (18). The nose is complex and savoury. Ripe fruit on the palate in a medium bodied style, which gets quite fragrant with air. Sweet fruit to close. Concentrated fruit with cherry ripe/coconut hints to close. . Layered, the finish is very long, but needs a few years to open up. A highlight of the tasting, this is under the Clairault umbrella (the Streicker family own Clairault and several prominent vineyards in Margaret River. (RRP $43).
Willow Bridge – Shiraz – Gravel Pit – 2014 (18). Lovely fruit on the nose, with plum and licorice. The palate is balanced and smooth, with vibrant fruit and supple winemaking. The tannins build, combining with the firm oak to shut down the fruit slightly on the close. Give it up to 10 years in the cellar. (RRP $30).
Willow Bridge – Shiraz – Dragonfly – 2014 (17.5). A delicious, good value wine with bright red fruits. The oak is evident, but not intrusive. Was at its best after sitting on the tasting bench for a couple of days, so may well benefit from a few years in the cellar. Do not serve too warm. (RRP $20).
Lindeman – Shiraz – Gentleman’s Collection – 2014 (17). An unusual wine, and one that was hard to judge. An altogether richer style, the sweet plump fruit is ripe and delicious with hints of chocolate. The addition of a small amount of fortified wine makes an impact, though the alcohol is only 14%, so it must be a very small amount. The sweet fruit on the palate has a touch of residual sugar, suggesting this could be served slightly chilled. (RRP $22).