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1996 Water Wheel Shiraz
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- Closure: Cork
Water Wheels winemaker Peter Cumming has been a reluctant exporter and in the past has only dispatched a 'bootfull' of wine overseas. Today, the Americans, English and Asian buyers are hot on his heels for stock, and as a consequence a serious slice of the 1996 vintage will find a cellar outside of Australia - that's bad news for the locals! Cumming is however, keen to look after his local supporters but one doesn't need a crystal ball to forecast the future, particularly when the overseas market realise that this wine is undervalued by a large factor compared to its peers - one of two events will occur - a big price rise or a chronic stock shortage due to export demand. One thing is for sure, there are very few bargain cellaring reds available. Buy cheap, cellar for a decade and smile for a long time at the astuteness of your acquisition.Peter Cumming considers the 1996 shiraz the best that Water Wheel has made to date. The vintage conditions were similar to 1992 and 1994 with a prolonged ripening period during a rather cool autumn. Yields for 1996 have been deliberately cut back by around 20% to 3-4 tonnes per acre and this cut back has had a profound impact upon the quality of fruit delivered. The 1996 Shiraz reflects the true character of Central Victorian Shiraz with its rich luscious blackberry and intense cracked blackpepper quality.Despite the excellent weather conditions and the outstanding fruit quality - the wine 'does not then just make itself'. Cumming uses a variety of picking dates and beaumes to maximise fruit richness and complexity. The majority of the fruit is picked at around 14% beaume, however, around 10% is picked at elevated beaume of around 16-17%. By themselves these elevated beaume wines are undrinkable, however, as minor components of the total blend they make a major contribution - in many ways not unlike the use of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. The colour extraction is magnificent and reflects the care taken during pumping over and plunging of the cap. Furthermore, the composition has come in near perfect with a pH of 3.4, thus ensuring longevity for the wine.
THE 1995 WATER WHEEL SHIRAZ WAS EXCEPTIONAL AND WE RATED IT AS THE BARGAIN OF THE YEAR - THE 1996 WATER WHEEL SHIRAZ IS EVEN BETTER. Whatever you do, don't think about this wine for too long - just do it! The 1995 vintage sold out within 3 weeks!
The 1996 Water Wheel Shiraz is a better wine than the exceptional 1995 - now that's a big statement. The wine has greater depth and concentration of flavour as well as persistence and reflects the vintage conditions of the Bendigo district. Cumming likes to emphasise fruit and so only 30% new American oak casks are used, to ensure that the fruit is not swamped by oak.Tasting Notes: Opaque crimson and deep mauve colour. The nose is magnificent and is a definitive statement about cool climate Victorian Shiraz. Uplifted spiced blackberry and crushed black pepper nose, with a hint of confectionery, liquorice and vanillin oak. The voluptuous fruit on the palate can only be compared with a sensual encounter with a collection of Rubens. (Look up your art books!) A feast for the palate! Totally mouthfilling, with spiced blackberries, liquorice and blackpepper flavours superbly integrated with subtle vanillin American oak. A wine of great concentration and persistence and in spite of its generous 14.5% alcohol there is not a trace of hotness on the palate. The tannins are silky smooth - making the wine a drinking pleasure immediately, however, be patient, put several cases away for the future. The aftertaste lasts minutes. This is a Superb Shiraz. Cellar 5-8 years.