The Scarce Earth Project was born from the passionate and creative minds of Dudley Brown (Inkwell) and Adrian Kenny (contract winemaker) to show off what they understood very well. McLaren Vale produces great Shiraz wines plus the varied geology and micro climates of the region produces such different expressions of the same grape variety. The vision moved into action ready for last year where 2009 wines were released. How does a wine get to be part of this project. Well McLaren Vale wineries can submit barrel samples of wine for a first pass review by a tasting panel of McLaren Vale regional experts. If these wines are deemed acceptable then they get tasted twice more – before and after bottling. Oh and by the way the wines are to be from single geology (typically single vineyards) and show off the fruit definition and not the use of oak.
Last year the 2009 wines were released in somewhat of a hurry where not all wineries had the labeling ready plus I thought the marketing was also hurried. I also considered the wines to generally be over oaked and this did not seem to marry with the intent of the Project. Well what a difference a year make the 2010 Scarce Earth Project Shiraz wines were released to the public in a tasting held at the old Tatachilla Winery to some considerable fanfare and the wines were just so different. Yes the 2010 vintage was a significantly better vintage that 2009 but the treatment of the wines seemed so, so different as well. With the 28 wines that made it through to the Project list I did not consider any to be over Oakes. Sure some had more oak than others but I did not once feel like I was drinking a glass of “splinters”.
As a passionate McLaren Vale-ite the offerings from the Scarce Earth Shiraz Project made me feel all warm inside – not just from the alcohol but I can now see this scale of work can only increase the standing of McLaren Vale to the whole of the wine world. Now if we can just do something similar with Grenache……….
I will be reviewing all of the 2010 Scarce Earth Shiraz Project wines in the coming weeks. With each review I will be mainly discussing the differences between the wines and not that all of them have plum character. I hope you enjoy the comments and I welcome any of your comments as well.
Cradle of Hills Row 23 Shiraz ($55)
From a new player in the world of McLaren Vale wine with their patch of dirt in the Sellicks area. When I initially tried this wine the aromas were quite closed, but I was so surprised so I went back and found a totally different experience. The second time I got the expected plum but there was the spiciness that is Paprika and a finish on the nose that was almost meaty. There were tannins here but I thought they were more skins and seed tannins than wood based tannins. There is the floral-ness that is violets and oh what length. What a start both for the vineyard and the tasting.
Waywood Wines Reserve Shiraz ($45)
Made from grapes fom the same vineyard as the Cradle of Hills wine and so different. The aromas were based around a lifted cherry with perfume and hints of cedar. The flavors surprised me – not for the plums, not for the acid inspired length, but for the citrus zest oil character that left the taster right on the back palate.
Vigna Bottin Wines Shiraz
From a vineyard next to the Aldinga Airport, the grapes have imparted the lifted aromas of dark fresh plums with hints of violets. The wine is all about the fruit – stewed plums all the way.
Shirvington The Redwind McLaren Shiraz ($85)
From their Willinga vineyard and oh bring on the spice. I get aromas that. Can only be considered to be depth of floral, peppered plums. The spice continues on the palate with white pepper and plums plus just the right amount of oak that gives a finish of drying tannins.
Halifax Per Se Block Shiraz ($50)
I am going to have to say that this was my favorite wine from this tasting. Aromas of black and concentrated fruits. In terms of flavors I got fresh fruit compote – you know all the fruits of fresh plums, blackberries and cherries that transformed into a silky concentration on the mid palate and a subtle spice finish. In a word – Yum!
Fork in the Road ($15)
The first surprise from this label (that I had not heard of before) was the price. Made from Sand Road fruit the wine showed the first hints of American oak for the afternoon. The American oak sweetness came shining through on the nose with with an interesting perfume. Then came the treat – a really good fruit and oak balance with black plum sweetness.