What I'm Drinking...

2010 Hugh Hamilton Wines Pure Black Shiraz

Publish Date: 21 Nov 2014

Authored by: James Halliday

It's not often I bring a bottle up to the house from the days' tasting of 80 wines, but I wanted to be sure this wine deserved the praise I had heaped on it during the tasting. All wine show judges have come face to face with the truth that a red wine which they regarded as balanced and elegant on the basis of one or two sips amidst a forest of big red wines can change dramatically as you drink a whole glass (or a little more) of the wine with a meal.

The colour had alerted me the second it was poured during the tasting, with a depth and hue of a one- or two-year-old Shiraz, not a four-and-a-half-year-old, deep and vibrant crimson-purple. I suppose I have to say that the packaging, with the upper half of the bottle encased in black wax, also suggested the $180 price tag might not be unreasonable. Even more interesting was the fact that this was a barrel selection of five French oak barriques, from a total of 250 barriques, or 2% of the total make. Thus there are (or were) 112 dozen bottles in captivity.

If there was any concern that the 14.5% alcohol might wield a sledgehammer blow on the palate, this was quickly answered in the negative. While it is as deep and dark as a starless night, its aromas and flavours bound in velvet ropes, its super-fine, and wonderfully supple, tannins ran through the length of the palate, highlighting the black fruits, cedar, spice and licorice flavours. The last mouthful of the glass was every bit as good as the first, with freshness rather than heaviness on the back-palate and aftertaste. Do not get me wrong, however. This is not an elegant, 13.5% alcohol, cool climate Shiraz; rather, it is an example how a full-bodied Shiraz can absorb a heap of oak and tannins, and come out the other end with balance. A baby leg of lamb (or part there of) was part of the inspiration to re-open the bottle that night.

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