Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2015 Henry's Drive "H" Syrah: Australia Rocks Again!

As I mentioned in yesterday's Rant, it's time to reconsider the wines of Australia and I'm back with another Australian wine review, exploring a compelling expression of Syrah. This isn't a fruit bomb and showcases more of the elegance in Syrah.

Henry's Drive Vignerons is located in the wine region of Padthaway, in the southeast area of South Australia, a wine region that officially became an appellation in 1999. During the 19th century, horse drawn coaches provided transport to and from the farms and wineries in this region, and one of the coach drivers was Henry John Hill, whose route passed through land now owned by the Longbottom family, owners of the winery. Kim Longbottom and her late husband Mark chose to name their winery after this coach driver, a honor for his hard work and dedication, as well as a connection to their historic past.

Kim Longbottom, who hails from the region of Marlborough in New Zealand, and her late husband, Mark, planted their first vines in 1992, releasing their first wines in 1998. Currently, the property includes about 300 acres, of varied plots, with an additional 30 acres in the McLaren Vale. They grow a variety of grapes including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The Padthaway region has a Mediterranean climate of warm dry summers with cool nights.

I received a media sample of their 2015 Henry's Drive "H" Syrah ($27.99), which is made from 100% Syrah, has a 14.1% ABV, and only about 750 cases were produced. Initially, the wine was  fermented on the skins for ten days and then underwent malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for for 15 months in French oak puncheons and hogsheads, which are 25% new, 25% one-year old, 20% two-year old, and the rest three-year old. The 2015 vintage in Padthaway was said to be an excellent one, with dry conditions throughout much of the season.

I found this wine to have a rich, red color and an appealing nose of blueberries and floral notes, with just a hint of spice. On the palate, there was an initial bust of bright fruit, cherry, raspberry and blueberries though it wasn't jammy in the least. As the taste progressed, there was an undertone of spice notes, especially on the finish. The tannins were well-integrated and the wine presented as silky and elegant, with a fairly lengthy and satisfying finish. Delicious and compelling, this is another wine that doesn't fit the old stereotype of Australian Shiraz.

I paired this wine with a dinner of Australian lollipop lamb chops and it was a very fine pairing, each enhancing the other. This wine earns a hearty recommendation, and is another example of the diversity that can now be found in Australian wine.

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