Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2011 South Australian Shiraz: Exceptions to the rule

At various points along the way, I have come across many exemplary wines from South Australia made in the 2011 vintage. It is true that even more have been disappointing, reflecting the seemingly unending rain. The regions south of Adelaide fared far better than those north of Adelaide, McLaren Vale already contributed a number of those exceptions. But I came across the 2011 Salomon Estate Finniss River Shiraz (from the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula) and it absolutely starred. How come? Well, the grapes were not harvested until the end of April, well after the impact of the heaviest rains in March had dissipated. 

In addition, obvious diligence in the vineyard, and equally obvious skill in the winery, came together to produce a beautiful wine. The utterly exceptional colour for ‘11 signals the arrival of the best shiraz from South Australia I have encountered; because the harvest could be delayed until the third week of April, the impact of the March rainfall was minimised, and the wine has all the hallmarks of a cool vintage with a spicy lift to the perfectly balanced marriage of black cherry and red fruit; the tannins, too, are perfect. 

96 points, drink to 2025, 14.5% alc; cork; $40

1 comment:

The Wine and Vine Blog said...

Hi James,

At the start of my wine adventures, I started drinking Blue Nun, and I hopefully have come a long way since then. As a wine educator, you have undoubtedly helped me discover much more than I could have ever done alone, and I would like to thank you for that. I have always been an admirer of your writing, and really enjoy your wine recommendations.

I am a big fan of the South Australian reds, particularly Shiraz. I saw your comments about the rainfall in South Australia, and wondered if South Australia uses irrigation? I have heard that in Europe to be classified as “true” terroir, grapes have to be grown without irrigation, and must rely on natural rainfall. If this isn’t the case in South Australia, does irrigation significantly affect terroir, and does this diminish the wine’s quality?

Last week I shared a bottle of Majella 2010 Shiraz, and it was quite bland, despite the shoe polish and sharpened pencil taste of the region, until the next day, when it had had time to breathe, and then the true Coonawarra character came out —spicy and peppery. It was a pleasant surprise, a very nice wine after all!


Bee Ang

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