Friday, March 2, 2012

Updated Review: **** $$ Cameron Hughes (CH) Lot 77 Shiraz, Barossa Valley, 101 Year Old Vines, Lot 77, Australia, 2006 - BEST VALUE

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By way of background:This Cameron Hughes offering of 101 Year Old Shiraz vines from Barossa Valley, Australia, is the follow-on 2006 vintage from a very-appealing 2005 vintage (of 100-year-old vines then!).  The 2006 shiraz is finished at 14.5% alcohol.  According to the distributor, the 2006 harvest in the Barossa had a quick heat build-up.  But then a long-cooling period hung shiraz fruit on the wine for an extended period, creating the conditions for good color and excellent tannin development. The tannins contribute to a strong structure for the 101 year old vine shiraz, but the trade-off is one of accessibility – the 2006, even with 18 months in barrel and over 6 months in bottle, is taking a long time to unwind in the bottle.  Let's see what this translate to in the glass...

Original tasting, December, 2009:

In the glass:Deep magenta, opaque to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the glass.

On the nose: Poured without a decant and swirled vigorously,the Cameron Hughes Barossa Old Vine Shiraz  sports an intriguing, slightly bold, nose of ripe black cherries and BAND-AID(r) Brand Adhesive Bandages.   Also notes of oak dust.

On the palate:The first notes are a rugged, dense oak-framed black cherry flow across your tongue, followed by more lifted, aromatic cherries into your upper mouth. 

And the finish:Holds stiff with tannins throughout your palate, allowing the fruit to trickle out slowly.

In summary:Solid, full-bore experience today, fully three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  But in this case there is a big plus for the future promise.  Unlike the 2005, which scored four stars right out of the gate, but which showed little tannic structure, the 2006 does show significant tannins; it is a less rewarding wine at the moment however.  Patience, patience...

Following a two-day partial-bottle decant under vacuum...  All bandages are gone from the aroma. Now a sweet oak dust coats the ripe black cherries. Still full throttle with tannins attacking the fruit as it moves across your tongue, but settled just a bit.  The bright highlights in the finish are a surprise and delight.  Enormous promise for additional aging.

Updated review, over two years later,  March, 2012:  Same color.  Deep, bold cherry aromatics.  The black cherries are soft and sweet on your tongue now.  Soft, easy finish, though not at all tired.  Now touches four stars, making this a best value.

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