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2018 Huntington Estate Basket Dried Shiraz

AUD $100.00 inc. gst
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In the 10 years since it was first launched, this wine has earnt an ardent fan base and trophies as a young and museum wine.
It all began in 2011 as part of my ‘Great Tannin Project’; and my desire to create a new and exciting expression of Mudgee Shiraz - a blockbuster with real intensity.
Walking the vineyard, I noticed a floral, peppery character in the best fruit at 10 to 11 Baumé that isn't present at full ripeness. Inspired by Amarone, my theory was that tannins will ripen off vine, while fruit characters are maintained, not developed. I was right, and I love the resulting wine.
Whole bunches of unripe Shiraz are hand-picked into baskets to dry / ripen off the vine. Only bunches with all perfect berries pass muster. They are stacked, fanned and kept cool in their baskets for several weeks, with frequent testing to ensure they do not over-ripen. Winemaking then proceeds as usual for our premium Shiraz.
A huge amount of work and volume of grapes is needed to produce a tiny amount of wine. The baskets are fiddly. Also… ever tried to squeeze a raisin? Extraction rates are around 45% vs 80% for a premium table wine.
The real kicker is the failure rate with two total losses in 8 years - 2017 and 2013. Baumé can run away during basket-drying, especially during a hot year, and the wine is difficult to get through fermentation with the balance, softness and fruitiness that are the hallmark of this wine.
I’m proud of the wine, and of our commitment to keep learning, experimenting and raising the bar.
This will be our last Basket Dried Shiraz for now, I'm a little bit sad but we've learnt, loved, and it's good to go out on a high.

VINTAGE  2018 was warm and dry - a great red vintage, and the culmination of a huge amount of work to better understand how to manage the warmer seasons in the vineyard and the winery. The promise of the wines was evident from the start in the colour and chemistry (pH, acids etc.) and the flavours and structure followed through. 

WINEMAKING / VINEYARD Whole bunches of Shiraz from Block 2b (original plantings dating back to 1969) were hand-picked into baskets on 7/02/18 at 11.9Bé. The fruit was crushed at 14.3 Bé on 20/02/18, then fermented for 7 days with 25% stalks added back for a bigger, bolder structure. After nearly 2 months on skins (during which time the wine was racked and returned several times to help the wine breathe and mature), it was racked into third use American Oak barrels on 12/04/18. Bottled 21/08/19 at 15% Alc.

TASTING NOTE This is a big, bold fruit bomb of a wine. Ripe, concentrated red and black fruit flavours are enhanced with a hint of parma violet, liquorice, and a dash of pink peppercorn.  Square, chalky, powerful tannins provide weight and a fabulous complete structure. The alcohol is well concealed in this well-balanced wine. The wine is full bodied, mouth-filling and long. 

CELLAR  2035+

ACCLAIM

96/100 "It is hard to comprehend the amount of work and foresight that has gone into this wine; grapes were picked at 10 to 11 baume and then dried in baskets to reach 15 baume (the water evaporates from the grapes and concentrates the sugar). In terms of yield , this winemaking approach goes close to halving it. The management to make sure the grapes are not overripe or get mouldy is a non trivial affair and even when safely in a fermenter the potential 15+ % alcohol is another challenge. There were just 1354 bottles produced, which makes this a rare wine. Most importantly it is a wonderful drink, especially when you consider the hard work and skill that went into making it. A deep red in the glass with purple hues, a nose of blackberry and plum alongside bitter dark chocolate, bramble and spice. The concentration of fruit is something to behold, layered black cherry and plum comes in waves with a savoury, earthen edge giving such contrast. The finish sees tannins that are fine, supple but with great persistence; dark cocoa lingers along with dark berry fruits." THE WINE REVIEWER 2021

93/100 "This is quite the wine for those that enjoy the Amarone style. Caramel, cedar and vanilla explode from the glass. Some oak sweetness is evident but it's a wine that is quite savoury driven although showing some rich black fruit form. Dried herbs, char and suggestions of orange peel before a drying finish highlighted by dusty and powdery tannins. Embrace this. Drink 2023 to ten years+" QWINE 2021