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1998 Hamilton Gumpr's Block Shiraz
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- Closure: Cork
HERMITAGE, A PLACE IN PARADISE, ROOTZONE DRYING and 'RHONE SYRAH CULTURE'MAKE FOR HEAVEN ON EARTH.The 1998 Hamilton Gumpr's Block Shiraz is made from 100 year old vines whose exceptional qualities are equally influenced by the tradition of the Rhone Valley and science. The debate is vigorous, if not academic, as to who planted the first syrah vines on the hillside of Hermitage. Some say it was Phocean Greeks, as early as 600BC, others say it was St Patrick, whilst the locals maintain that a priest, Brother Benedict had a vision on his death bed and was visited by a group of angelic vignerons, carrying grapes which instantaneously turned into wine - a vision from Paradise. There is more certainty of early viticulture in South Australia, with the first vines being introduced by John Barton in 1837, followed by plantings in 1838 by Richard Hamilton and John Reynell. Hamilton, it appears was interested in the tonic qualities of wine, rather than their commercial potential. Shiraz has found its finest expression in the Rhone Valley and South Australia. The wines being produced from McLaren Vale are so consistent and flavour filled that it is difficult to find better value for money. The cliche that a great wine is made in the vineyard is proving to be very true, as Australian scientists conduct research on improving quality. Irrigation used to be a dirty word in the 1960's and 1970's because more often than not it meant flooding the vineyards with water and consequently getting lots of shoot growth and big dilute bunches of grapes. However, in the late 1990's all that has changed. Scientists observed that shoot vigour would be reduced and water efficiency improved if parts of a vines root zones were not supplied with water for a period. They developed a system called 'partial root zone drying' (PRD if you're in the trade!). Instead of the single drip irrigation tube, researchers used two tubes in parallel, one on each side of the vine. The drippers are turned on alternatively, thus allowing half the root zone to partially dry out and inducing stress on the vine. The up side is much better fruit quality, smaller berries and less leaves - what the scientists have done is to teach the vine to drink in moderation. The Richard Hamilton Gumpr's Block Shiraz has indeed drunk water in moderation, and the result is a wine of extraordinary quality and concentration. Not only were the grapes harvested in perfect condition, but during the winemaking a very unusual strain of yeast was used called the 'Rhone Syrah Culture'. This yeast has given the wine a very powerful earthy nose and palate that is comparable with the best of the Rhone Valleys Hermitage wine.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT A WINEMAKER HAS BEEN AWARDED FRONT COVER STATUS FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE TIME - A RARE TRIBUTE TO THE QUALITY OF THE HAMILTON WINES.Tasting Notes: Monumental construction, in the tradition of the great McLaren Vale reds of the past. Superb opaque mauve crimson colour, which has an incredible cling to the glass. The nose displays a profound influence of the Rhone Syrah yeast culture, giving the wine a degree of earthiness not seen outside Hermitage. In part the aroma is reminiscent of the traditional farmyard smells that emerged from the Hunter and McLaren Vale wines in the 1970's, but it is more than that - it is a wonderful juxtaposition of ripe shiraz flavour and winemaker's influence. Rich ripe plum fruit, ripe raspberry, pepper and spice are interwoven with the flavour of earth, leather and game. The palate is mouthfilling and for a moment the earthiness overrides the fruit and entwines itself between the fine, firm persistent tannins. Perfect balance with exceptionally long, earthy, plum and liquorice aftertaste. Cellar 8-10 years. Stocks are limited.