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Gusto Vino

Howard Park’s regional wines display a distinctive style even though their treatment and handling are identical, and the Shiraz and Cabernet are remarkable, as David Pike discovers.

REGIONAL identifying quality is not radically new in the wine world. It is however a concept that is beginning to enable regions or sub-regions in Australia to add a signature tune and enhance marketability.

Most regions in Australia tend to grow a number of different grape varieties. This maximises the conditions of a vintage season because not all varieties react to the same conditions — they ripen at different times — and each variety has its own idiosyncrasies. Some vineyards have been planted with varieties that are in fashion and others, as in the early planting days in both Margaret River and the Great Southern, with varieties that were the only ones available.

The industry is still only relatively young throughout Australia and we have learnt quickly about how varieties fare in the different climate zones in Australia and begun to recognise distinctive characters in wines from specific regions. Yet some varieties still continue to struggle when planted in a ‘predetermined’ region. Should you plant Pinot Grigio in Shiraz territory? Would it allow that variety to impart its flavours that are traditionally found with the style of wine or would it lead to the creating of a unique expression of Pinot Grigio?

While the vineyards in Italy, France and Germany are governed by different regulations that prevent plantings of certain varieties, it is worth contemplating that although Burgundy in France continues to produce exceptional wine, they may also produce a dynamic Sauvignon Blanc if allowed.

If the Burgundians produced a Sauvignon Blanc, what would be its distinctive attributes? Would it rival the cool climate styles of Marlborough in New Zealand or would there be a unique distinctive varietal character born out of introducing the variety to a new region?

Howard Park has recently released their range of regional wines, each with their own distinctive style although having undergone the same treatment and oak handling. The wines selected from fruit parcels in the Great Southern (Scottsdale Range) and Margaret River (Leston Park Range) have produced a remarkable brace of wines within the two varieties of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that winemaker Michael Kerrigan has chosen to identify regionalism in the West.

All these wines are available under a screw cap (Stelvin closure) and, although bright and cheerful at first, they did open up further having breathed for an hour or so. After replacing the cap, each of these wines looked just as good the following day.

Howard Park 2001 Leston Shiraz

rrp $35 18.5/20

Aromas that are entwined with fragrant dark berry fruits, vanillin mocha oak notes, seductive ripe plum, raspberry, mulberry fruits and a chervil spiciness. Sweet savoury notes complement acidity, and smart oak use are highlighted on the palate. The wine comes with plenty of ripe dark cherries, plums and spice integration. Elegance and persistent finish, packaged under Stelvin — it’s worth letting this breathe in the bottle before diving in.

Howard Park 2001 Scotsdale Shiraz

rrp $35 18.5/20

Red berry notes with damson, cherries and spice provide fragrant aromas that complement the coffee mocha oak and vanillin undertone. The palate shows attractive sweet, savoury fruits with integrated acidity, and dusty tannins that have a green tobacco hint. Quite tight in structure, the wine touches on some anise and spice characters towards the back palate and finishes with persistence and fabulous length. A wine that will further integrate.

Howard Park 2001 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon

rrp$35 17.5/20

Ripe, rich berry fruits stand and deliver — vibrant blackberries with a hint of dark chocolate, a leathery complexity and floral aromas set the tune of this wine. The palate shows structured tannins and acidity, with fruit density across the mid palate, damson, blackcurrant and mulberry. You will find plenty of length and personality and there is little doubt that in a couple of years this will be classic Margaret River showing its best.

Howard Park 2001 Scotsdale Cabernet Sauvignon

rrp $35 18.75/20

Bright fruit! Plums, mulberries, with a medicinal herb undertone, a liquorice hint with attractive vanillin smoky oak. The palate has soft fruits with a raspberries and sublime blackcurrant message, touches of black olive with a complex mineral note. Tannins are dusty and lively acidity runs through the mid palate which has plenty of fruit weight; the wine evolved in the glass and will continue to evolve.

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