90 points plus.
This wine is very close to my heart- but I will try very hard to remain objective.
Reading the previous posts about this wine, I am very sure that my bottle was a pristine example.
There is no doubt in my mind that the previous review was of damaged stock. Although it was a very dry wine, the fruit, vanilla and leather well supported this.
I have been enjoying this wine for about the past 6 years. I bought a case of it when I was first getting serious about wine, and for me, this is my special occasion wine of choice along side my dwindling supply of 96 St Henri. If the wine were still as relatively cheap as I bought it (I paid about $29 aud per bottle) this wine would score much higher. It now sells for around $70 I believe. This is the price point I will use to rate this wine.
This wine is a prime example of the concentrated shiraz that Clare can produce if the vines are very old, and the fruit is in the hands of a great wine maker. The Aberfeldy vineyard is part of the original 1840’s (if my memory serves me correct) Birks family Wendouree planting. As such, the fruit gives awesome concentration and supplies ample potential for a huge, extracted wine that does reward 10 years+ rest.
For its era, the wine has high alcohol- 14 degrees. It handles this very well. The level was heading almost into the shoulder, which made it an easy drinking choice:). The colour was a deep terra cotta, solid to the edges. Clarity was excellent considering that this wine had not been filtered/fined.
The huge use of new amercican oak (22 months in Hogs) comes through on both the nose and palatte. Fresh vanilla pod on the nose, and the slight bitterness of the pod on the top of the tongue. This integrates magnificently with the slightly astringent blackberries (possibly some red forest berries also) on the nose and pallate. Well worn leather on the nose, + slight sawdust.
The fruit at its core was amazing, and the secondary flavours just added to it. This is a great example of how Clare shiraz can age well. Halliday uses a “iron fist in a velvet glove” comparison to demonstrate the fruits ability in this region to stay at the core, and the age characters to simply take the edge off. I could not agree more. This wine was complete in every way- the priamry and secondary flavours integrated seemlessley with each other, and the nose. The aftertaste was lengthy and an excellent encore to the initial clense.
As it opended up (half hour in the decanter), chocolate showed up on the nose and combined excellently well with the vanilla of the american oak and the dense blackberries. After 2 hours in the decanter the wine had dried up significantly- the bitterness of the red berries started to dominate, and we left the last glass in the decanter. You know a good wine when you can do this and feel utterly satisfied. My partner summed it up well (on our second anniversary:) :
“no one could say that this isn’t a great wine”
I can’t wait for next anniversary:)