Insiders have long known that Mount Langi Ghiran's vineyards, nestled between two dramatic mountain peaks in the Southern Grampians, produce some of Australia's very best examples of Shiraz. It's a unique cool climate with a long growing season favorable to producing Syrah wines with complete ripeness and beautifully subtle nuances similar to those of the best Hermitage and Cote Rotie wines of the Northern Rhone.
This was not the Langi Shiraz but rather Mount Langi Ghiran's Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It too has a very good reputation, and I opened it for my wife's birthday. Donna is a lover of Australian Cabernet and a close friend since childhood of the winemaker Trevor Mast and his wife, Sandra. The wine was in fact one that Trevor had given us on a visit to the vineyard in the early 1990s.
Trevor noted on the label that, beginning with this vintage, the wine was held in French oak barriques for two years rather one year as in previous vintages to allow "full integration of the oak and wine tannins to soften the wine." Australians, like Americans, tend to drink their wines young, and, with softer tannins, this wine was undoubtedly a hit on restaurant wine lists 15 years ago. Unlike many New World Cabernets that have had similar handling, this wine has nevertheless aged very nicely.
It's a medium deep ruby with some amber creeping in at the edges and a decent amount of sediment. The bouquet is well developed with cherry, currant, cassis, dark fruit and a pleasant raciness. (There is also a slight musty quality that comes and goes but does not detract from the wine's charms. The wine is definitely not corked.) The palate impression is smooth with no hard edges. Flavors are well focused and developed. There's more acid than you'd expect from an Australian red, but that is Trevor's wine making style. It's an Australian Cabernet for those with European tastes, and it's very good.
That said, I'm looking forward to opening the next bottle of Langi Shiraz--probably during the next holiday season.