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2005 Tatiarra Culled Barrel Shiraz
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- Cellar 5 - 8 years (2011-2014)
- ABV 15.5%
- Closure: Cork
'Excellence' - The Orphan of Perfection
Great philosophers wander the vine rows of some vineyards. There, Aristotle and Leibniz continue centuries old discussions, though the argument is always rigorous, the subject remains the same: Excellence or perfection".
At the Tatiarra blending sessions this year, the contention between these two ‘poles’ was never so intense. 50 out of 130 barrels were to be culled from the final wine – a record number. Yet the ‘reject’ barrels were excellent, and it seemed obvious to some that the winemaking team were being seduced by a dangerous muse. The Chairman of Tatiarra was red faced when he learnt the depth of the culling, reckoning the loss of income to the company to be in the tens of thousands. South Australian winemaker, Nick Bourke, and understudy to Tatiarra winemaker, Ben Riggs, exclaimed ‘I’d give my left knacker if my top wine was this good’. Despite what others thought, this year the companies Culled Barrel release remains an orphan of perfection.
To understand this decision is to understand the paradox of Tatiarra. Right from the outset, the public company established by the ‘Old Man’ and the late Bill Spring, together with a number of high profile shareholders, wanted to create a Shiraz that would sit comfortably along side the world's greatest. That objective seems to be well on the way: Garagiste in Seattle wrote of the 2004 Cambrian Shiraz "A megalith waiting to unfold ...One of the very best wines produced anywhere in Australia". Elin McCoy reported in New York’s Bloomberg News, that Tatiarra’s ambition was ‘to blow the doors of every other Heathcote Shiraz like a Ferrari zooming up Australia’s Northern Highway". While Robert Parker continues to compliment the wine describing Tatiarra as “one of the most exciting operations in Heathcote”. Such is the praise for the flagship Shiraz wines, Cambrian Shiraz, Caravan of Dreams and Trademark.
However, this has only been achieved by sacrificing large components that fail to make a positive contribution. This John West approach guarantees the consumer an extraordinary drinking experience at every level. Matching the obsession of the winemaking team, viticulturists, Ian Rathjens and Bob Wilson have now installed a complicated soil moisture reading system, sending radio signals back to the computer located in the 'Caravan of Dreams' ensuring that only enough water is applied to each vine to keep it in tension and not stress. Canopy management is paramount for once the basal leaves fall off, the fruit will not ripen physiologically.
With the 2005 Tatiarra Culled Barrel it is clear that it is perfection, rather than excellence, which is now the companies total group obsession. As a consequence, the 2005 flagship wines have reached new heights. Ian Rathjen observed that the quality bar for Heathcote has been lifted several notches, and there is poor Nick Bourke, whose manhood has now been readjusted.
"I'd give my left knacker if my top wine was this good." - Nick Bourke, Mclaren Vale winemaker & understudy to Ben Riggs
Tasting note: Tatiarra's obsession with de-classifying barrels that will not offer an extraordinary Shiraz experience means rejecting a wine of amazing quality and value. This years release stands out as one of the most impressive pieces of 'imperfection' we've seen, and most will be hard pressed to discern any shortcomings in the wine whatsoever. Opaque black crimson colour with black crimson hue. Superb, lifted nose of violets, black pepper and spice creating a delightful, classic Heathcote sniff. The palate is mouthfilling with fantastic density, mouthfeel and balance – one searches for some kind of deficiency? According to the winemaker, his concern was for more 'power'. Yet at the price point, we can't think of any wine delivering more than this. Layers of liquorice, spice, blackberry and vanilla are supported by a strong black pepper back palate. Excellent balance and exceptionally long aftertaste. This wine is a Lamborghini – The Ferraris will be released November 1st.
Cellar 5-8 years (2011-2014)
Click here to read more about the Heathcote wine region.