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2009 Warrabilla Parola's Limited Release Durif Museum Release
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- Cellar 4 - 5 years (2019-2020)
- ABV 18%
- Closure: Cork
The Warrabilla wines are difficult to compare to anything else on the world market. Think of 'big' reds you've tasted in the past then get your Thesaurus out. Similes like "A Hippopotamus in a Tutu", and "Frankenstein-like" can be illuminating when you're at a loss for words to describe the wines of Warrabilla (the former is a favourite of ours and one which sums up the balancing act these wines so perfectly achieve).
Winemaker and proprietor, Andrew Sutherland Smith is unquestionably a tall poppy with both followers and detractors. Critics have described his reds as '...impossible to judge by conventional standards'. He remains unfazed by the controversy. "Comments along the lines of big is bad or high alcohols are so wrong, are just ridiculous..." He adds "The only thing worse than a mean, green wine is a mean, green wine writer. It's not just about alcohol, it's about the black phase fruits that develop late in the season. It's a different profile." We admit that in over thirty years of researching and bringing to the public the most weird and wonderful wines from around the world, these are not the sort of reds that will ever rank amongst our most popular. But that's never being our raison d'être.
The purpose of this website is to keep you informed and to expand your wine drinking horizons in every direction. Keep an open mind. No doubt for some wine lovers, tasting the 2009 Warrabilla's will be an achingly intense, over the top, high octane experience they may never repeat. To others these wines will be a revelation - a compelling combination of impenetrable colour, heady aromas, super-ripe fruit, heavy cream texture and a tannic structure like liquefied velvet, all with the unimaginable poise of a hippo traversing a tightrope. From one point of view these wines are destroyers of complacency, even 'dangerous' - but then, life is like that.
Few producers in the world have the guts and know-how to make reds like Warrabilla. How does Andrew Sutherland Smith get across the viticultural tightrope without the wines falling into a porty, jammy mess? There are several key factors that make him the "Master of Massive". It all starts in the vineyard. "Our soils are deep red clay loams. The rows are 4 metres wide (standard Australian width is 3 metres) and this gives us plenty of light and air to colour, ripen fully and give us the favour profiles we’re after. Crops are pretty light at around 1.5 tonnes per acre.” The rate of fruit ripening is very dependent upon temperature, therefore, the more uniform the fruit zone environment, the more uniform the maturation of the fruit, with 75% of the quality coming from delivering uniformly ripe fruit to the winery. Andrew maintains “It’s all about light. The vertically, shoot positioned trellis maximizes it, while giving a bit of protection from excessive heat and sunburn. We taste berries as vintage progresses, looking for black/red fruit characters whilst avoiding excess shrivel and the dreaded dead fruit characters.” His final words of wisdom “Frankly, so long as the wine is in balance, we don’t care whether it’s 14% or 18% - it’s just got to have balance.”
Each year has slightly different climatic features that suit some varieties more than others. 2009 was another hot Rutherglen vintage, and according to Andrew Sutherland Smith, it was the year for Durif. (The fact that he has not produced a Parola's Durif since 2006 demonstrates his commitment to maintaining the integrity of this estate's house style. He simply won't release wines unless they're 100% true to form). Durif is best harvested very ripe, else there's a hardness and meanness inherent in the varietal. Warrabilla's 2009's are instant classics, possessing tannins that while firm and soft, have all the structure to be exceptionally long lived.
Magnificent inky black colour showing incredible saturation and depth with an impenetrable inky black dark red hue. Intense aromas of ripe Morello cherries, liquorice and black plums waft from the glass with a cedary overlay followed by hints of dark chocolate and vanillin spice. Super rich, thick and massively concentrated, powerful flavours of ripe Morello cherries, liquorice, black plums and dark chocolate hit the palate with a degree of force that’s unprecedented over a backdrop of vanillin cedar and spice. It barely seems to have moved an inch since our original tasting. Impressively built solid, slightly chewy tannin structure with no trace of heat present on the finish despite its lofty 18% alcohol – A vinous marvel! Exceptionally long conclusion of ripe Morello cherries, liquorice, dark plums, vanillin cedar and spice. Will hold for another 4-5 years, perhaps longer.
First Tasted June 2010:
Andrew Sutherland Smith has weaved his wine making magic to produce a classic Warrabilla ‘Hippo in a Tutu’. Unusual from start to finish, the oak regime for this year's Parola’s Durif is worth noting: 100% new AP Johns Puncheons, the Rolls Royce of American oak, and the benchmark for top fight South Australian Shiraz styles. Why all new oak? "Because big wines just eat up oak" explains Andrew, "in fact, you hardly know it's there, even though they've had so much that in a lesser bodied red you'd be complaining about spitting splinters".Second is this Durif's impenetrable colour - probably the deepest and darkest we've ever poured. It is a totally opaque, inky black with a black heart and black purple hue displaying a super saturated paint like cling that stains the sides of the glass and has to be seen to be believed.
The nose offers perfumed aromas of morello cherry, dark chocolate, liquorice, vanilla and spice – a wonderful sniff of terrifc intensity. Monumental in concentration, power and structure, the palate is liquid dynamite. No doubt it will be too much for some wine lovers to handle. Morello cherry, liquorice, dark chocolate and blackberry favours completely swamp the mouth and are followed by vanilla and black plum. Firm dry tannin structure. Impeccable balance. Exceptionally long aftertaste of liquorice, black morello cherry, black plum, vanilla and spice. We suggest cellaring this amazing wine 5-8 years, however Andrew informs us of an experience with a fifty year old Durif from Burgoynes in Rutherglen that tasted like it was fve years old. It was an epiphany that turned him into a Durifphile.
Cellar 5-8 years (2015-2018)