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2002 St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz
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- Cellar 5 - 8 years (2009-2012)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
COMPLEXITY – THE X FACTOR IN WINE
For thousands of years, winemakers have witnessed the transformation of simple sweet grape juices into a drink that has complex flavour profiles that can be varied as the clouds in the sky or the leaves of a tree. Pasteaur discovered the secret of fermentation but did not delve into the realm of complexity. In recent times, mathematicians have endeavoured to unravel the workings of the world through the study of Chaos Theory and how simple structures can evolve into complex forms. The most visible are the fractal patterns discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot.
Winemaker Stuart Blackwell has been at the forefront at St Hallett creating red wines that deliver superbly complex flavour profiles – his Old Block Shiraz and Blackwell Shiraz are great examples of complexity in wine. The question that needs to be asked is just how is this complexity achieved? Is it winemaking, terroir or something else? The notion of terroir is in itself nature’s interpretation of its component parts and Blackwell is quick to point out that it is terroir that gives the wines their complexity and not manipulation of fruit in the winery. The X Factor in Blackwell Shiraz is due to the extensive array of terroirs upon which the Shiraz is grown. Some of the ‘ignored areas’ of the Barossa have proven to be the source of the best grapes, particularly those vineyards located at the end of Seppeltsfield Road. The age of the vines varies from between 10 and 100 years, giving Blackwell the scope to express complexity. The vineyards on ironstone soils contribute a feral quality to the Shiraz whilst those on red clays over limestones produce the flavours of red berries, particularly blackberries. The skinny skeletal soils of Eden Valley produce wines with liquorice characteristics. Surprisingly, only one clone of Shiraz is used – clone 1654 (the old vine clones are not known).
In order to increase the X Factor in the wine, vineyard management techniques are employed that produce small bunches of highly concentrated small berries, yielding between 1.8 and 2.4 tonnes per acre. The style of both Old Block and Blackwell Shiraz has evolved over the last eight years, with the Old Block Shiraz developing a feminine elegance and finesse that none the less is capable of cellaring and evolving. The Blackwell Shiraz has developed into a style that can be compared to that of a boisterous young adolescent – full of power, energy and needing nurturing to fully express the X Factor.
Fermentation of the must takes place in a variety of small open fermenters, varying in size from 3 to 8 tonnes. The process is very traditional, and in the Barossa, amongst winemakers is referred to as the ‘Penfolds Process’. The fermenting juice is worked hard for 24 hours whilst it retains a sugar level between 11 and 7° Baume. Four exhaustive operations occur including pumping over, splashing and aerating the wine. After this period, the process is allowed to continue with minimal work. The wine is matured in fine grained aged American oak casks – new and old, contributing further to the ‘Loud’ nature of the young Blackwell wine. The resultant complexity of the finished wine is what makes wine such a supreme drink and indeed Devine Liquid.
A spectacular result. The word seamless is rarely used in wine tastings because seamless wines are not easily found, however, this is just that. Wine lovers will recall the superb 2001 vintage which rates 97/100 on the Wine Spider scale – the 2002 has just topped that score with 98/100.
Tasting Notes: Totally opaque black purple colour with black purple hue. Superb nose of violets, spice, liquorice and mocha over toasted oak and vanilla. Magnificent palate flavour profile. Explosive flavours of black pepper, vanilla and toasted oak over layered with dark chocolate and blood plum. Each of the components are individually blurred yet together form a formidable ‘new whole.’ Velvet smooth tannins. Followed by very long aftertaste of blackberry, toasted oak and spice.
Cellar 5-8 years (2009-2012)