Evans' Choice: Old Hunter Shiraz

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The late Len Evans, one of Australia's greatest wine ambassadors

The late Len Evans, one of Australia's greatest wine ambassadors [©VisitVineyards.com]

One of the greatest problems facing lovers of red wine is the availability of old wine. If we accept that the secondary flavours of wines that have been matured in the bottle add an extra dimension to fruit qualities, then we all must aspire to tasting such flavours. Otherwise there's no point in cellaring wine.

A great deal of red wine made today is made to be enjoyed young. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, but these wines, when kept for a period, often disappoint.

The greatness of red wine lies in its ability to be kept for a varying period to achieve other flavours. The greatness of a wine area lies in its ability to produce such wines. The top districts of the world, proven over the years, are all great because of this ability.

In addition, increasing globalisation, the use of the same technology, equipment and grape varieties, all leads to a sameness that might be fine for those who enjoy a glass of wine, but is totally unsatisfactory for those who love the difference. That is why the Hunter Valley area is one of the most unique areas in Australia. Hence the anomaly that it is not well known to drinkers today for the quality of its aged wines.

Tulloch's Private Bin Pokolbin Dry Red sold for the same price as Grange Hermitage in the 60s. What went wrong?

That's another story. However, many international tastings that have featured old Hunter reds have left critics gasping. 'How can we get these lovely wines?' they ask. Unhappily there's no secondary or auction market for them, like those for Bordeaux, Burgundy, Vintage Port and Grange.

Now, here's a chance to see what the Hunter can do. Lindemans have long had a history of keeping wines for development. I have chosen a great wine for those who love red wine and would love to learn more:

1983 Lindemans Hunter River Bin 6600 Shiraz
(currently retailing at approx A$145)

I loved the '83 vintage since we made some outstanding reds that year. I've known this wine for a while, have always liked it, but I didn't know it had become such a classic.

This is old Rhone/old Hunter at its best, a direct antithesis to the big dry port (14-15% alcohol) style of dry red, which has become so fashionable. This is quality some USA critics would never understand. It has all the earth, smoke, hot saddle, leather and truffles one could hope for. The palate is soft and silky smooth with those characters framed and extended, the after-palate is quite long and still has the persistent tannin of the year.

 

First published on Winepros Archive, August 2000

Regions

  • Hunter Valley (NSW)

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