By Tina Gellie ‘In terms of grape-eating, I’m ahead of everyone else – except maybe my dog,’ said Dan Buckle about how fastidious the Mt Langi Ghiran team is about tasting the grapes to ensure they pick at optimal ripeness. Masterclass attendees were treated to this and many other one-liners from the laconic chief winemaker.
The estate, one of Australia’s most acclaimed cool-climate Shiraz producers (85% of production), is driving the trend for elegance in a market normally seen as ‘sunshine in a glass’ – ‘You don’t have to be powerful to be charming’ – as well as single-site wines as a counterpoint to large-volume, commodity wines. ‘It’s not hard to make rich, extracted, fruity reds; the challenge is to find nuance of flavour and aroma and individuality.’ And found it they certainly did in the wines that followed.
Presenter quote of the day: ‘Having a peppery character in your wine is not a green or unripe fruit thing; it’s a proven flavour in its own right. So don’t listen to those Barossa producers who will tell you otherwise. They’re wrong – and jealous.’
Surprise of the day: The audience was very interested to hear that the Australian Wine Research Institute has isolated a compound called Rotundone (a bicyclic sesquiterpene for the geeks out there), which is the source of the spicy pepper character in Australian Shiraz, of which the Grampians boast the highest concentrations.
Attendee comment of the day: ‘A tasting like this really explains how different vintages and different plots of land can affect the taste of the same wine. I learned a lot.’
Debate of the day: Masterclass guests were asked which of the four single-vineyard wines they preferred. A show of hands failed to give a decisive victory to any of them – something Dan Buckle was delighted about. ‘Not only is it great we’re pleasing such a broad range of palates, but it really emphasises our passion for terroir: that each of these Shiraz’s can be so different.’
MLG, The Gap Vineyard 2004
From a vineyard on the edge of the Grampians State Park. Smoky, gamey, meaty aromas followed by minerally, leathery, earthy blue fruits. Old-style, rustic Shiraz.
MLG Robinson Vineyard 2004
Organically run, sheltered vineyard on quartz/ironstone soil. Elegant, understated nose of anise, white pepper and violet fruit. Finely structured, spicy, peppery palate.
MLG Nowhere Creek 2004
Hot, dry, low-yielding site on terra rossa shale soil. Warm, plummy, meaty dark fruit perfume. Bold, powerful palate of blueberries and mulberries. Round, rich and juicy.
MLG Cliff Edge Shiraz 2004
Nets protect this windy, exposed vineyard, producing benchmark cool-climate Shiraz. Savoury lifted blue fruit and bright acidity. Complete and beautifully balanced.
MLG Shiraz 2004
Dan Buckle’s first full vintage as chief winemaker. Seductive but shy ripe boysenberry fruit. Sweet spice, white pepper, lifted violet perfume and warming alcohol.
MLG Shiraz 2005
The winery’s most successful Shiraz to date. Overt primary fruit nose of warm plums and spice. High alcohol on the palate backed by huge ripe fruit. A young monster.
MLG Shiraz 2006
Fresh blueberry and boysenberry fruit with a heady, feminine, violet lift. Balanced and complete even now: has the ripe, rich fruit and peppery spine to be MLG’s best yet.
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Written by Tina Gellie