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1996 Elderton Command Shiraz
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- Closure: Cork
WINNER OF THE WORLDS BEST SHIRAZ
Voluptuous was a descriptor that Peter Lehmann and his Barossa Shiraz had an almost exclusive franchise on. That's not to say other Barossa producers didn't make 'big' wines, its just that Lehmann seemed to pack a lot more flavour into his reds than other producers could. However, there is a fine line between being voluptuous and being 'fat'. In art, Rubens understood the fact very well, and fed his models on a diet of bread until they reached a state of equilibrium between beauty and ugliness. Pinot Noir displays a similar trait that is finely balanced on a razor edge, that curious juxtaposition between fruit and game - get the balance right and the wine is exceptional.
Shiraz too has a turning point - that being the measure of just how much fruit flavour and alcohol the wine can take before it tips and becomes jam like or porty. On the right side of the line the flavours released are sensational and unique to the Barossa - on the other side of the line it's a dry Vintage Port.
The 1996 Elderton Command is finely tuned - a perfection of counterpoints and a redefinition of the descriptor voluptuous. It's hardly surprising that at the London International Wine & Spirit competition it was declared the World's Best Shiraz, where else could such a wine be produced? Brian Croser summed up Australia's unique growing conditions with the statement "We really do have the best viticultural climate anywhere in the world, by the length of the street".
The fruit is sourced from very old, low yielding vines on the Elderton vineyard, planted in the early 1900's. These vines are situated on rich river silt soils and red brown earth over limestone, in a Mediterranean climate with cropping levels less than 4 tonnes per hectare. The grapes are picked at optimum maturity (13.5 to 14.5 baume, or higher, depending on the year). The wine is matured for more than 2 years in American & French oak puncheons and is given a further 12 months bottle maturation prior to release.
Opaque black crimson colour. Magnificent complex super ripe fruit nose. Smoky oak, ripe plums, liquorice, chocolate mocca and vanillin spice all fill the nostrils creating a heady sniffing experience. The palate displays the superb counterpoints of flavour expression and delivers an explosion that is difficult to match. Total concentrate of ripe Shiraz fruit, not a corner of the mouth is left in doubt that this is a great wine. Superb ripe plum, smoky oak, vanilla, spice, liquorice, cedar and hints of tar, exceptional and without any evidence of being hot or jammy. This is the skill, this is the unique quality that pushes this wine into the Shiraz, "Hall of Fame". Perfect balance, fine grained, yet evident tannins, exceptional length and an aftertaste of ripe plum, blackberries, mocca, vanilla and liquorice that lingers for at least five minutes. On the back label, there is a corny and rather dated phrase, "Your wish is our command". At the risk of perpetrating the corny phrase, let us simply say - we urge you to lodge your commands early - stocks are limited. An outstanding wine of world class standing. Cellar 5-8 years.