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2010 M.Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Shay's Flat Vineyard Shiraz
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- Cellar 5 - 6 years (2017-2018)
- ABV 14%
- Closure: Screw Cap
As a reference point for terroir-driven winemaking, Michel Chapoutier stands at the high end of the passion scale. A defender of the French 'Appellation Controlee' system which is inspired by terroir viticulture, his autonomous attitude combined to revitalize the wines of 'Maison Chapoutier', the famous Southern French namesake synonymous with the vines of Hermitage and the Rhone Valley. Assuming sole ownership, he steered the negociant away from cultivating “a signature taste”, focusing instead on bringing out the distinctive features of the various terroirs in its custody. Since childhood Michel Chapoutier has found fragrances from the land fuel his inspiration in wine. His experience of a 2008 Hermitage is evocative of a visceral connection, conjuring "...flint...the smell of the rain in summer on the hot stone...the pepper...the blackcurrant...a little touch of graphite...the cold fireplace..." Like the concept of terroir itself, there is a romantic aspect to his personality that also mingles with science and courts controversy. Wine journalists tend to enjoy his company. In 1997, true to his pioneering spirit, Michel Chapoutier set out to explore the terroirs of the oldest continent. He is known to keep an envelope in his pocket for dirt samples. When he sees something he likes, he scoops it up to take home to France to analyse. Soon after an expedition through Victoria he contacted partner, Tony Terlato to let him know "he'd found soil he could make wine with in Australia". Extending Rhone traditions and his own viticultural visions, he made considered acquisitions in Heathcote and Beechworth with collaboration from an A-team of local know how. They include Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda and Ron Laughton of Jasper Hill (their 'La Pleiade' project previously reviewed on nicks.com.au). In 2000, Chapoutier also purchased the 'Malakoff Vineyard' in the Pyrenees in partnershipwith Terlato which allowed him to split the expense of 500 acres, of which only 100 were plantable. "It's all slopes and ravines" laments Terlato. "You can't walk up and down those slopes. It's hard to farm...But we had to buy the land to get the soils Michel liked”. Chapoutier acquired two neighbouring plots in 2009, 'Landsborough Valley' and 'Shays Flat', with all three sites within 5 km of each other. Now collectively referred to as ‘Domaine Tournon’, these vineyards are on the foothills of the southern extension of the Great Dividing Range where there's diversity of microclimate and soil. For Chapoutier this is the whole point. He is not interested in homogeniety of varietal style. Even vintage variation is an element of the terroir. Overall these wines reflect the cooler conditions. Generalising, one could say they offer more tannic backbone, slightly less alcohol and more pepper and mineral characteristics than most Central Victorian equivalents. For some they will be an alternative vision of Victorian Shiraz filling a hole at the price point left by the likes of now iconic labels such as Dalwhinnie and Summerfield. Robert Parker describes Chapoutier's local efforts as "...remarkable wines from one of the most fascinating and compelling personalities in the entire wine world, and one dedicated to the highest quality." Given their various price points, the Tournon 'Shays Flat' is unquestionably the best buy of the 2010 Chapoutier collection. If you're seeking this label in five years time, you'll likely be told to call the cellar door, only to be invited to join the waiting list for the mailing list (yes, it's happened before) then paying a premium if you can get it. Tasting note.... The Shay’s flat vineyard is planted on red podzolic soils overlying a soil of ironic schists and quartz. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. A small proportion of the wine is aged in tanks to preserve the freshness of the fruit flavours. It pours a totally opaque black dark crimson red colour with deep dark crimson red hue. The nose displays lifted notes of ripe blackberry, dark plum, dried meats, a touch of liquorice and a strong blackpepper end note. Full bodied, the palate boasts superb richness with mouthfilling flavours of ripe blackberry, liquorice, some meaty characters and a pronounced peppery finish. Very fine grained, although slightly dryish tannins give the wine a slightly chewy mouthfeel. Perfectly balanced. Excellent length with long ripe blackberry, black cherry, liquorice and blackpepper aftertaste. (Note - If you're wondering about the dots on the label, Chapoutier embosses his wines in braille for the blind and visually impaired).
Cellar 5-6 years (2017-2018)
Alc 14.0% Other reviews... These Chapoutier wines are sometimes reviewed by my colleagues David Schildknect in his Languedoc-Roussillon report and Lisa Perrotti-Brown in her reviews of Australian wines, so I will just list the wines, my score, and the region from which they emerge. They are of very high quality and deserve readers’ attention. Hopefully my prose has convinced more than a handful of readers to try these remarkable wines from one of the most fascinating and compelling personalities in the entire wine world, and one dedicated to the highest quality. 95 Points
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate #198 Dec 2011