I know its Keats again, but I am indebted to the late Robert Hughes for the reminder from “Things I didn’t know”. Necessity being the mother of invention, I needed a title to introduce this piece on Australian wine. Now I haven’t written anything remotely creative lately (apologies to my loyal, but miniscule, band of followers) as I have been building a website, the creation of which has been – in the words of another great Aussie, Alan Moorehead – akin to “straining s..t through a sock”. I am not a natural when it comes to web design and the stultifying ennui coupled with the wet and dreary climate finds me, like Keats, “in need of song and sunburnt mirth”.
Its always a pleasure to drink big robust Aussie reds on a cold Autumn day and I may have killed two of them off a little early but hey, I needed cheering up. The Armagh Shiraz, Jim Barry, 2005, was intense on the nose, with cassis and blackberry fruit enveloped in rich, chocolate and liquorice with a lick of classy, new, French oak. I detected a touch of mintyness as well, but this was soon overpowered by a deep, toasty, overtone which followed through to the palate. Hugely concentrated with intense, damson fruit, well integrated and surprisingly ripe tannins – despite all the new oak – and a finish that went on as long as the final hobbit hugging scene in Return of the King.
The Garlands Saros, 2003 was a complete counterpoint, and I should have tried it first as it was almost overpowered by the finish of the Armagh. Elegant in style with a nose of fresh, red berries and summer fruits together with a touch of earthy, green pepper, it was an absolute pleasure to drink. Lushly fruited – mainly Cabernet Franc with a judicious dash of Cabernet Sauvignon – with fine grained tannins and high quality, French oak adding to the warmly interesting and stylishly medium-bodied finish.
Henschke’s Hill of Grace is an absolute classic, and The 2004 was scrumptious. Personally I would rather kill wines off early than keep them until they are tired, but this could go on for another decade. Totally fabulous on the nose, a big, unashamed whiff of overripe, plums with traces of violets and herbal scrubland. Weighty, yet elegant, on the mid-palate with blackberry jam, spicy, white pepper and sage to the fore. Oak integration was very stylish and the combination of tightly grained French, with a little sweet American, rounded out and helped finish the wine beautifully. The alcohol level of 14% abv was almost imperceptible (unlike the Armagh) and the overall impression was one of concentration, intensity and class.
Some of you will notice that I began with a shot of one of Dave Powell’s wines, but the call of the website is too strong, and the family must be kept from the workhouse.