Monday, July 6, 2009

Jasper Hill 'Georgia's Paddock' 1996 Heathcote Shiraz

There are wines in the Australian psyche that are truly Aussie; Penfolds Grange and Bin 389, Wynn’s Black Label, Lakes Folly Cabernets and De Bortoli’s Noble One. These wines I would put in to the bracket of the ‘Triple M’ category; mainstream wines that have the ‘everyman’ appeal.

Then there are the wines that rock the boat, or do not necessarily play by the rules. These are wines that are a bit more edgy in style, marketing and flavour; Bass Phillip, Nicholson River, Domaine A and Jasper Hill. These are the producers that I will put in the alternative pile, the ‘Triple J’ wavelength.

Unlike the former, these last four producers undertook their lot by throwing caution to the wind; Bass Phillip with Biodynamics and a gravity fed winery, Nicholson River fermenting Riesling in oak, Domaine A growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Tasmania and Jasper Hill growing dry grown, or more simply, with no irrigation. And it is Jasper Hill more than any of the other wines that have pushed its way in to semi mainstream, and still coming with a large price tag.

Ron Laughton has been making wine in Heathcote since the mid 70’s, primarily Shiraz with his ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ which is 100% Shiraz and ‘Emily’s Paddock’ which is a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Franc. Dry grown fruit relies entirely on what comes out of the sky, and with the current drought not looking like going away, growing conditions remain tough up in Heathcote, with Ron resorting to donning a weed-spray backpack full of water and walking the rows spraying his vines – that’s hard work.

Recently I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of Jasper Hill ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ 1996 Shiraz with Arnaud, my former assistant at The Point restaurant. Now Arnaud is a young Frenchman with knowledge of Australian wine. He has already come to the conclusion however, that Barossa Shiraz is crap – smart fellow this one hey? So when we happened across this gem, he was quite taken aback by not only its power, but also elegance for a wine that has spent the best part of 12 years in a bottle.

The colour was still quite deep, with no sign of fading or breaking up. On the nose was bright eucalypt; very Heathcote. In the mouth came savoury chocolate, cedar, a little bit of prickly plum and acid a plenty, which once again tells me that there is still plenty of kick in this bad boy.

Wonderful balance of secondary flavours with this wine with enough complexity and length for this wine to still be stunning in many years to come.

Drink till 2026
Drink with lamb shoulder in onion sauce

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