2004 (AP Birks) Wendouree Shiraz Mataro 13%

I don’t only drink or review  wines with some residual sugar, these are not at all my staple drinking fare; but after my the recent digression about mailing lists, it’s time to look at a red wine supported by information from the mailer; “a blend of Shiraz (76%) and Mataro (24%) from 1893 Central and 1920 Eastern vineyard plantings”.  No dispute about vine age –these are old!

The wines Wendouree releases vary in price – this is the cheapest. Mataro is a synonym for Mourvedre – or Monastrell –  (one of the blending varieties of the Southern Rhone Valley, and other areas in France, especially Bandol), and Spain,  with a reputation for being full coloured, full-flavoured, tannic, alcoholic and straightforward. In Australia, Mataro is often one of the blenders with Grenache and Shiraz. Mataro is one of the varieties that suffered under the vine-pull scheme not so many years back in Australia. So this wine is a fairly traditional blend from Wendouree.

2004 wendouree shiraz mataro

And how do you get the best out of Wendouree wines, which don’t always shine in tastings? It helps to have a good year, like 2004 in the Clare Valley (and like most of South Australia). It helps to decant the wine and let it breathe for a few hours. And it helps to put into proper glassware – and after some experimentation, the Zalto burgundy glass works particularly well, bringing out some of the more fruity flavours. James Halliday describes the wines of Wendouree as the epitome of the “velvet first in the iron glove”, with 30 years of cellaring potential almost guaranteed based on the vine age and the restricted yields. My experience is that Wendouree wines can be quite shy and sulky – I used to think of them as being attuned to heroic Pinots, but now believe I think they are more like Nebbiolo in approach.

The cork has done an outstanding job – just as well, as this wine has a long future.

The colour is a dense crimson/black – encouraging in an 11 year old. Dark sour cherry, dried herbs, cola, plum and some mint; the medium- weight palate echoes this and adds chalks plus “rum and raisin” chocolates, and liquorice. Complex. The wine is still quite – pleasantly – tannic, and the (Seguin Moreau) oak is swamped by the fruit intensity.  The old-vines add what I call “slinkiness”. Show judges may be looking for more oak, and for more highlights, but the wine is complete in its expression. Lip-smacking and delicious.

Drink 2020 to 2030, score 93 points.

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