Nine Stones is my favorite source of mid-priced Australian Shiraz. Owned by Len Evans, a well known wine writer, Nine Stones goes easy on the oak and extraction and carefully chooses grapes that express a sense of place. My favorite cuvee is the McLaren Vale, with its full range of mid-palate flavors, but this Hilltops is equally impressive. It comes from cool-climate vineyards at an elevation of 1,700 feet in southern New South Wales.
Aromas are somewhat tight and reduced at this stage, but spicy, peppery Shiraz notes come through with very little oak influence. This is good cool climate Australian Shiraz with plums, black fruits, lavender and peppercorn. There is plenty of tannin on the front and mid-palate but fruit is peeking through on the finish. Very enjoyable now, this wine will be even better in another three or four years. I plan to buy more of this cuvee.