"2010 is undoubtedly the red wine vintage of the decade, some are saying the best since 1990, and I have a rising suspicion that it may yet prove to rank amongst the greatest of all time...Barossa Shiraz isn't what it used to be. The modern wave of restraint, texture and whole bunch complexity is finding its place under rising stars like Spinifex..." Tyson Stelzer, Wine Taste Weekly, www.winepress.com.au
Peter Schell is not only making some of the most exciting wines in the Barossa, he is also transforming our assumptions about this region. His choice of site and his intuitive, hands-off work in the winery continues to yield dramatic and certainly anti-formulaic results. 2010 is as fine a selection of wines as we have offered from Spinifex. They are perfectly ripe yet have wonderful bright fruit and a fresh, savoury structure. While the wines remain quite unlike the traditional Barossa norm they remain saturated with what we often call ‘sense of place’. As such, they offer the textural openness and generosity that is the mark of the region, its climate and ancient soils, yet not at the expense of definition, tannic freshness and line. Welcome to the new Barossa.
What's new this year? First off, as a result of the cooler season, Peter has decided to release only three premiums this year. The fruit that went into the single site Vallée des Roche in 2009 calls La Maline its home in 2010, while the unusual set of circumstances that led to the Barossan “Chateauneuf” Le Chemin being produced were always unlikely to be repeated every year. Similarly the single-site Mataro Le Tabor didn't bring the heady spice character of 2009 that made it such an individual proposition and thus this fruit in 2010 makes its way into the Indigene blend. So that leaves us with three wines. Bête Noir takes in a portion of Eden Valley fruit this year yielding a smokier, darker and more enigmatic personality to this wine. There are also some changes in Pete's most graceful cuvée, La Maline, as well. This Shiraz incorporates Spinifex's most fragrant, subtle fruit - sourced from the highest sites with light, rocky soils - and this year, as we have mentioned, benefits from a healthy portion of that Vallée des Roche fruit. Also, this year Roussanne replaces the Viognier in this wine. Finally, Peter calls this year’s Indigene his most Bandol-esqe wine to date. It’s a blend of approximately 60% Mataro and 40% Shiraz.
Spinifex Bête Noir 2010
Pete's Bête Noir is 70% Shiraz from old vine, elevated and lighter textured soils in the Barossa hills blended, in 2010, with 30% Eden Valley Shiraz. The latter inclusion adds smoky black fruits, spice and freshness to this year’s version (the 2009 was entirely Barossan fruit). It’s a perfumed, captivating wine from an exciting vintage. The wine was raised in French oak puncheons (30-40% new), with 35% whole bunch fermentation which has brought a welcome tangy, savoury note to the rich fruit. The Bête Noir is deeply flavoured and buoyant in the mouth with pure, primary, dark berry fruit on the nose, giving way to darker earthy and meaty notes. The finish is long and elegant, with more structure and brightness that you would expect from the region yet strongly in keeping with the restrained Spinifex style. Not only a great value but a wonderfully complex and perfectly balanced wine too.
"It’s impossible to overstate the sheer class of the 2010 vintage for Barossa reds, and in the right hands it defines a hitherto unexplored plane of new generation Barossa shiraz. Bête takes the black fruit depth of classic Barossa and superimposes it onto a resolutely medium-bodied palate of finely textured, honed tannins and tangy acidity. Black plums, black cherries and violets carry seamlessly through a lively and crunchy palate, accented with fruit mince spice, dark chocolate and black pepper." 94 points, Tyson Stelzer, Wine Taste Weekly, www.winepress.com.au
Spinifex La Maline
La Maline is the moniker (pre-2008) for the former “Shiraz/Viognier”. In fact, from 2010 Pete has dropped the Viognier component entirely believing the ripeness and sweet fruit that this variety delivered in 2010 didn't fit the restrained, yet flirtatious, style of La Maline. Instead, this year, Pete co-fermented the Shiraz with a touch (2-3%) of Barossa Roussanne, a variety that is of increasing interest to this grower. The red grapes comes from a selection of old vines – up to 80/90 years in some plots – grown in the Eden Valley and Barossa Ranges including fruit from the brilliant, rocky vineyard that produced 2009's Vallée des Roche. These cool, elevated sites bring this cuvée lovely, lifted aromas of crushed red plum, black raspberry and beautiful violet notes. The Roussanne adds intriguing aromatics of ginger spice. Naturally balanced, the palate is super fine, pure and delineated. Lovely, powdery tannins kick in at the back driving the wine to another level. This has roughly 20% new oak. Pete uses the thick stave Tronçais 'Magic Cask' barrels from Dominique Laurent’s artisanal cooperage, for this cuvee which has been sumptuously folded into the old vine fruit during the long, slow maturation. La Maline 2010 is looking wonderful already although Pete has made it clear to us that it still has a way to go. You can expect this to get better and better.
"A new age in Barossa shiraz was unleashed some years ago, and it just got very serious indeed. If you want to understand the captivating evolution of the Barossa style, Maline 2010 exemplifies just what is possible. The exoticism and complexity on parade here are nothing less than profound, showcasing carefully gauged whole bunch fermentation. Breathe deeply and you’ll be intoxicated by dark chocolate, plum liqueur, pipe smoke, coal steam, black olives, violets and spices of all kinds. There’s a tightrope balance here between deep-set, pitch black intensity, imagination-stretching complexity and an unwavering sense of poise, energy and internal harmony. Vineyard sources in high country Eden and the Barossa hills maintain a lively acid profile, supporting impeccably textured, gravelly, fine-grained tannins that draw every nuance of detail long into a tightly focused finish. Definitive new age Barossa." 96 points, Tyson Stelzer, Wine Taste Weekly, www.winepress.com.au
Spinifex Indigene 2010
Having been part of Spinifex line up since the project’s inception, Indigene is the stalwart of this trio. As always, it is based on the Barossa's wonderful resource of old-vine Mataro (aka Mourvèdre) sourced from tiny pockets of vines on the region’s eastern fringes. Aromatically seductive with spice-dusted cherry and raspberry fruit, it is a textural, seamless and very long wine. 2010 has a strikingly deep array of flavours on the palate: black cherry, blackberry, roasted meat and liquorice, plus again that floral edge. The mouth feel is velvet smooth yet not the least bit sweet – the powdery, super fine tannins keeping everything fresh and morish. The Mataro comes from a trio of sites including old vines rooted in the sandy clays of Kalima as well as Tabor, east of Tanunda, while the Shiraz component (40%) is a selection of the oldest vines - and henceforth the lowest yielding material – that Pete has access to. Each variety is treated separately; the Mataro raised in large format oak to preserve its subtle aromatics while the Shiraz sees some barrique and a single 600 litre demi muid. This is Barossa at its most stimulating, well-structured and age-worthy.
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