1996 Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz

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1996 Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AUSTRALIA
$69.99 Bottle
  • ABV 14%
  • Closure: Cork

When a wine reaches our stores with a gold medal attached to the label, we take notice but we’re never intimidated. The Australian Wine judging system is not perfect and we’ve made no secret about our general dissatisfaction with a method that evaluates wines on a 3,7,10 score. (Three points being awarded for sight, seven for nose and ten for palate.) Creating a wine’s profile over such a limited set of numbers is tricky and our preference is to use a bigger spread of numbers which are represented by the winespider system. (See www.winespider.com for a detailed exposition.)
When the 1996 Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz arrived for tasting, we were presented with a wine that had not only been awarded twelve gold medals but five trophies, spread over some of Australia’s major wine shows. In such a situation, it’s difficult not to have high expectations, even if one believes the system that bestows such honours to be imperfect. After evaluating the wine using the winespider system, it attained an extraordinary result of 98/100. There is no doubt that great wines are made in the vineyard and that great vintages generally follow two simple rules of thumb – Winter rain and a dry Summer. Orlando’s winemakers have access to two exceptional Barossa vineyards. The 1995 winter rains provided excellent sub soil moisture for the 1995 / 1996 growing season which was followed by perfect Summer ripening conditions.
Whilst much is made of the fact that the winemakers persistently taste the grapes and pick on flavour, at Orlando, they are also acutely aware of the numbers behind the grapes flavour profile. High pH levels mean that a wine will develop early and display premature colour and flavour development. Low pH levels result in a very purple, unnaturally bright colours and extremely high acidity making the wine difficult to drink. At the time of harvest, the 1996 Centenary Hill Shiraz numbers were text-book perfect: 14.2% alc./vol., total acidity of 6.4g/litre and a pH of 3.42 – these are rare figures that winemakers dream of, and they form the foundations of a great wine. Winemaker Phil Laffer’s recognition as Winemaker of the Year is clearly deserved and is reflected in his ability to produce wines ranging from the humble yet enchanting Jacob’s Creek, to the spectacular 1996 Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz.


Tasting Notes: A spectacular follow up to the 1995. The wine has been fermented in a traditional manner before being transferred to new American oak casks. Opaque crimson colour with crimson hue. Wonderful, perfumed nose of violets, spice, confectionary and dark chocolate. The palate has magnificent depth and concentration of flavour – packed with flavours of ripe plums, prune and liquorice, over a layer of toasted oak and blackpepper. Velvet smooth tannins, dry yet perfectly balanced and supporting an incredibly long aftertaste of cedar, spice and blackpepper.
An outstanding Barossa Shiraz and a collectors must!
Cellar 3-4 years (2005-2006)
Alc/Vol: 14.0%

RATING: 98/100