Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nine Stones Hilltops Shiraz, 2005

Nine Stones also has Shiraz bottlings from Barossa and McLaren Vale in Southwestern Australia. It's important to read the label before you buy, because each wine has its own personality. If you like your Shiraz big and bold, you'll like the Barossa; I prefer the McLaren Vale for its elegant mid-palate fruit. Hilltops, which comes from high elevation vineyards in Southern New South Wales (in the southeast) shows a totally different side of Shiraz...and one that I like a lot, particularly after it has spent a few years in the bottle.

You can smell the ripe berry fruit from across the table as soon as the screw cap is removed. It has the immediacy of a barrel sample plus the warm glow of a maturing wine. There is very little evidence of new oak, and I like that. On the palate there is black pepper, spice and racy blueberry/raspberry fruit. Reminds me a bit of a Crozes-Hermitage. It's drinking very nicely right now, but I think it will continue to improve for a few more years.

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