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1997 St. Hallett Old Block Shiraz
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Notes sourced from St. Hallett Wines.
St Hallett Wines sources the shiraz fruit for this wine from throughout the Barossa, from shiraz vineyards that are at least 80 years of age. Vineyards are located from Lyndoch in the South, around Tanunda and Nuriootpa, and up to Eden Valley. Fruit from each grower is kept separate during crushing and fermentation, and throughout maturation in oak, until blending for bottling.
The ultimate aim is for the wine to display the intense, multi layered fruit flavours characteristic of shiraz from old vines in the Barossa. Flavours of game, sweet spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, and smoky pepper from the Eden Valley vineyards, are blended with the rich dark and white chocolate, and coffee flavours characteristic of fruit from the Barossa Valley floor.
Leading up to harvest, regular tasting and sampling of the ripening fruit is carried out, and the decision to start picking is based on fruit flavour, rather than just sugar ripeness.
Each parcel of fruit is crushed into a fermenter once it arrives at the winery. Any adjustments such as extra acid and yeast culture, are added while crushing. The aim is to highlight the ripe berry, game, and spicy aromas, and to use the richness and sweet chocolate and coffee to build up palate weight and texture.
Each batch is fermented in tank at relatively warm temperatures of 20 - 22C. The warmer temperatures aid in colour and flavour extraction from the skins. The ferments are managed by a variety of techniques, including "pumping over' and "drain and returns, to aerate the ferment as much as possible during the early stages, again to enhance colour, and also to aid in tannin extraction. All parcels have French oak chips added on ferment to enhance the phenolic structure.
Some parcels will be pressed off skins early so that the wine will finish off fermenting in oak then seeded with malo-lactic culture in wood. Other ferments once dry, will be pressed off the skins and then seeded with a malo-lactic culture In tank. The malo-lactic culture is a bacterial culture that converts the natural malic acid to lactic acid, making the wine softer on the palate' and also microbiologically stable. Once the malic acid has been converted, the wines are racked a couple of times to reduce the amount of solids in contact with the wine. This keeps the aroma and flavours fresh and fruity. The wines are then matured in a mixture of new to three year old American oak barrels for 24 to 26 months until blending for bottling.
In 1997, the relatively warm to hot temperatures early in vintage, followed by relatively mild and cool conditions later in vintage throughout the Barossa produced flavours varying from quite intense and concentrated chocolates and berries, through, to more delicate game and fragrant spices compared to 1996. The resultant blend still has the characteristically velvety texture and weight typical of Old Block Shiraz, but is complemented in 1997, by sweet game and lifted spice flavours. The blend this year is made of 23% Eden Valley and 77% Barossa Valley. It is a complex wine with layers of flavours, that matches well with food, and has the potential to age exceptionally well over the next 10 to 15 years, or even longer.
Medium intensity, dark ruby colour with plum red tints. The nose displays layers of sweet nutmeg and cinnamon spices, lifted by soft pepper, giving way to light mocca, coffee, white and dark chocolate, smoky toast aromas, and then hints of leathery game notes. The palate is a complex mix of sweet game and spice, coffee and rich chocolates, mixed with a light cashew and smoky flavours from the oak. The rich chocolate and fine grained tannins on the palate add a smooth velvety texture and weight. The wine finishes with a lingering flavour of sweet white chocolate and mocca. Alcohol 14.5%