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2006 Tyrrell's Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz
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- Cellar 3 - 4 years (2011-2012)
- ABV 15.5%
- Closure: Screw Cap
The great Shiraz wines of Heathcote are amongst the superstars of the Australian wine industry. It is only due to the relative youth of the Heathcote region, that exceptional wines from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale command much higher prices. This disparity will be corrected over time as the Heathcote wineries become better organised at building their international profiles as world class producers - something which South Australian wine regions have had a big head start on. Both McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley, for example, boast an impressive tourist infrastructure, and their images are bolstered by larger than life personalities who have championed their respective districts. Max Schubert, Colin Gramp, Cyril Henschke and Greg Trott, amongst others, are today legendary names in the Australian Wine Industry. By contrast, Heathcote is presently occupied by two famous winemaking names, Ron Laughton of Jasper Hill and Dave Anderson of Wild Duck Creek.
However, the last thirty years have witnessed a significant increase of vineyards, with both old and new comers diversifying sheep, cattle and grazing properties in order to protect income. For some, viticulture has been a learning curve, particularly in coming to terms with the peculiar Heathcote terroir. Lack of viticultural expertise resulted in the erratic quality of early Heathcote wines. Some producers sought to pursue volume, while others became seduced by notions of dry farming that no longer stood any chance of succeeding in a region of ever decreasing winter rainfall. Talented winemakers also made mistakes, with slavish mimicry of cooler climate, lower alcohol wines that produced green, thin, Shiraz - atypical of Heathcote. 'Natural talent won't necessarily beat raw guts' says a fighter's maxim, and this is the lesson that the district has repeatedly dished out to winemakers who rest on their laurels. Of the relative newcomers to Heathcote, the most familiar are the Tyrrell's family. The Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone vineyard was planted on the eastern slopes of the Mount Camel Ranges in 1994 on one of two parallel strips of now famous Cambrian soils that run in a discontinuous belt for approximately 35 km, often being no more than a couple of hundred metres wide. This is the prized terroir, the 100 million year old soils derived from 500 million year old Cambrian base rock.
Tyrrell's first release in 1997 produced an astonishing result. It was followed by equally successful vintages in 1998, 2002 and 2003. But even experienced winemakers such as Bruce Tyrrell and his famous father, Murray “the Mouth” Tyrrell fell into the trap of over-watering and over-cropping, so what should have been a perfect record was instead blemished by major lapses in 2000, 2004 and 2005. The lessons were learnt the hard way. The Heathcote terroir is not Hunter, Barossa or anywhere else, its unique qualities demand specific viticultural management solutions. The 2006 Rufus Stone Shiraz was picked and then fermented in potter tanks for ten days for maximum extraction. A third of the wine was pressed off at 2.0º Baume to finish primary fermentation in barrel. 20% of the wine had a further two weeks post fermentation maturation on skins to add complexity and texture to the palate structure. All of the wine then went through malolactic fermentation in 70% French and 30% American oak barriques. Due to the concentration and intensity of the fruit in 2006, a higher than usual percentage of new oak was used – 40% new with the balance of 60% as one and two year old barriques. After 15 months maturation, the components were blended and then bottled with the results being one of the best examples of Rufus Stone in recent years.
An auspicious comeback that delivers classic Heathcote nose and palate structure. Very deep black crimson purple colour with purple mauve hue. Lifted nose of blackberry, liquorice, black pepper, plum and vanilla – showing strong varietal character. Full bodied palate with strong black pepper back palate, which explodes on the palate. Flavours of spice, black pepper, plum, vanilla and liquorice allsorts. Fine grained tannins. Very long aftertaste of blackberry and black pepper which are very persistent.
Cellar 3-4 years (2011-2012)
An elegant, medium-bodied palate, with wonderful black cherry and spice fruit, perfectly matched by seamless tannins and oak. Great finesse. Gold, National Wine Show '07. Drink 2021
James Halliday - The Australian Wine Companion - November 2007