July Wines of the Month: single vineyard stunners from the Douro & Eden Valleys

No doubt about it, a Powell & Son single vineyard Shiraz was going to make the cut for July Wines of the Month. Dave Powell’s and his son Callum’s single vineyard Loechel and Steinart Eden Valley Shirazes are my stunners of the year thus far. The only question was which one….  Like Powell senior (pictured below), I scratched my chin, in the end singling out the less costly of the two for my July Wines of the Month.  Why? Because it offers such terrific bang for buck in relative terms and its flavour profile is utterly unique.  Also making the cut is a single vineyard Douro red from another maestro – Jorge Moreira (pictured top in full flow) – who showed his mettle in the tricky 2013 vintage.  Both with Poeira, which is my other July Wine of the Month and Real Companhia Velha Quinta das Carvalhas Vinhas Velhas 2013, which I wrote up earlier this year.

Quinta do Poeira Poeira Tinto 2013 (Douro)

I had the chance to re-taste this single vineyard Douro red with its maker, Jorge Moreira last month.  Six months on it confirmed my view that this is one of the top wines of this tricky vintage.  The freshness of the year (it rained during vintage) completely plays into Moreira’s elegant style, which puts the emphasis on structure and line – acid and tannin.  It reveals dried rose, fresh crushed coriander seed and bay leaf spice to nose and palate with a hint of rare beef – carpaccio.  In the mouth it is very fresh, very spicy and very mineral with stone-washed dark berry, cherry and currant fruit; sour plum too.  The tannins are plentiful but long and very fine, cool and elegant – beautiful tannin management.  The finish markedly mineral with plenty of gravel and spice to the back palate. Terrific refinement and minerality.  Expect to pay around £30/bottle. 14%

Powell & Son Loechel Shiraz 2014 (Eden Valley)

This 250 case single vineyard Shiraz comes from the best parcel of Loechel – a western section of the vineyard which is planted on a steep, low yielding easterly aspect with high drainage.  The vines, which are 40+ years old, were planted by Loechel family.  The fruit was hand-picked on 24th April 2014.  Although the Shiraz was processed similarly to the other reds, Loechel was racked into new Domnique Laurent French oak barriques for 15 months.  Not that you’d know it.  The oak seems on the backfoot.  Rasping black pepper and sensual white truffle notes snag your attention from the off and maintain it from pungent, musky, animal-charged start to lingering finish.  I think of Patrick Süskind’s novel ‘Perfume’ about the darkly obsessive (murderous) scent-seeker Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.  And ‘Leviathan,’ a book I’ve just read about whales by Philip Hoare; he calls ambergris – the so-called ‘floating gold’ prized by parfumiers – for what it really is, hardened sperm whale dung!  There’s a sweetness too.  Of juicy black berry, raspberry and red currant which parries with this wine’s lifted, as if aromatised, savoury, earthy, gamey notes.  Great lightness of being delivered with intensity.  Stunning and perfectly unique.  pH: 3.68, TA: 5.6g/l, Alcohol: 14.5%.  The estimated UK RRP for Loechel – Eden valley floating gold is £85, which puts this wine within the grasp of many more premium wine hunters than its floating platinum – Steinart.
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