Editorial Forenote: If you number among the misfortunate few – as I do – who tasted some of the unadulterated rubbish that was washing ashore from Down Under ’round the early 1970’s, you well understand my wholly pleasurable reaction to reviewing this wine and the many other fine Australian selections finding their way into the club nowadays.
Lindemans is not a “boutique” winery. Quite on the contrary, it is in fact Australia’s largest vineyard owner. A local born winemaker, 33-year old Greg Clayfield, is at the helm of Lindemans Coonewarra facility in coastal South Eastern Australia. He has copped so many medals for wines he’s made there – this month’s included – that he was awarded the prestigious Robert Mondavi International Winemaker of the Year Trophy.
The Shiraz grape, which in France falls under the name “Syrah”, yields the Rhone Valley’s finest reds. Hermitage and Cote Wide is Australia’s most widely planted red grape.
Coonewarra’s finest vineyards are situated on a narrow band of rich red “terra rossa” soil overlying deep limestone. This optimum combination of fertility and drainage gives yield to intensely flavored fruit bearing an ideal balance of natural sugars and acidity.
The Shiraz grape, and its sister grape the California Petite Syrah, are used more often as a blending grape, providing color and tannin to a wine blend. You must have noticed how intense both these elements are in the other two Petite Syrah wines we featured this year. When made as a solo wine, these elements can overwhelm the final wine. The trick is in controlling them. This Shiraz demonstrates excellent control of all the elements.
The 1985 “Bin 50” is exemplary. A deepening garnet color just hints at a beginning phase of maturity. A “plummy” very fruity nose laced with black pepper and violet scents develops into another huge big mouthful of wine, yet does not overwhelm. It rather seems to massage the palate, finishing attractively with dry soft tannin. For serving, chill this wine down a little bit: 20 minutes in the fridge is about right. Can handle prime rib nicely, or you just might want to throw another steak on the barbie!
Cellaring Notes: While very enjoyable now, this wine should continue to improve through 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper