tasting notes

I AM blessed with a delightful ability to sniff out a wine bargain.

This, along with my dedication to testing prospective superstar bottles, not only means I spill more than most drink, but every so often a wine jewel is discovered.

I have found a classic, a red that any judging forum would rate among gold medal wines.

This wine has trophy winning potential.

The 1996 Peel Estate shiraz stands all among the finer reds produced from WA and, in my view, stands with the Houghton Jack Mann, Vasse Felix Heytesbury and Cullen’s 1997 cabernet sauvignon-merlot.

All are outstanding reds worth more than $50 – if you can find them.

One thing stands out in the aristocratic company I have mentioned – they are not only very fine wines, they are an expensive, small batch-only, hand-crafted wines.

Our discovery from Peel Estate is a brother in quality but, in relation to the others, a bargain at $33.10.

The better bottle shops will still have some 1996 Peel Estate shiraz, so if you are a serious wine lover, I suggest you start looking.

Shiraz from Peel Estate isn’t a new phenomenon.

The style and excellence has been evolving since 1974 when the first plantings went into the exceptional coastal limestone soils at Baldivis.

The property is just north of Mandurah, about 60 kilometres south of Perth.

In 1980, the initial commercial shiraz from the 1979 vintage was awarded the Best WA Red trophy at the Perth Royal Show, signalling expected excellence in the future.

Peel Estate cabernet sauvignon has also won this award, confirming soils and climatic conditions are perfect for complex red wine growing.

The 1994 vintage Peel Estate shiraz was a stunner. However, with the benefit of the vines’ further maturity to more than a quarter of a century old, the 1996 is the best I’ve seen.

Adulthood hasn’t only come to the grape vines but also to the part-owner and winemaker Will Nairn.

He has nurtured these vines and, over a long period, has come to fully understand the idiosyncrasies of the climatic and soil conditions in the vineyard.

Cellar this red by all means – the impressive character of the wine is such as to challenge you to bottle age it further.

However, make no mistake, the reds are already well-cellared.

Before they are allowed out of the winery storage they are given ample time to develop, with sensitive crafting for two years in new and one-year-old oak casks, followed by up to two years in the bottle.

Few reds receive such lengthy care before release.

Its longevity in the winery prepares the wine for acceptable early enjoyment as well.

The shiraz is drinking beautifully now but the future promise is obvious.

An explosion of characters fills your senses. They are so complex it’s difficult to keep track of them.

My immediate comment was: “this red takes a long walk”.

I have put my money where my tastebuds are and have stocked my cellar with this precious commodity.

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