February Wines of the Month: La Violetta Bilingüe GSM 2015 & Bekkers Syrah 2015

With Australia Day Tastings x three for me (I was presenting Margaret River Masterclasses in London, Edinburgh & Dublin), I had plenty of bites at the cherry and tasted some fabulous Australian wines.  It’s hard to narrow it down to just two wines for my February Wines of the Month.  The Margaret River Chardonnays and Cabernets fielded plenty of candidates – as one attendee said, “those Chardonnays were pure class!” But I’ll be writing those up separately having researched them so thoroughly (my detailed post on the Chardonnays is out tomorrow).  And I’ve already written up my super smart new wave Grenaches highlights from ADT.  So I’ve singled out a couple of extraordinary (in terms of quality and ‘out of the boxness’) reds for you – here they are:

La Violetta ‘Bilingüe’ Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 2015 (Great Southern)

David Knott of The Knotted Vine

One of a goodly number of Grenache-tastic wines I tasted at ADT; fascinating to see what Andrew Hoadley is up to with this not so usual suspect in Great Southern.  Bilingüe is an intense hue, with a bright, urgent even, burst of bacon-edged juicy red and black berry fruit on the attack.  In a hurry to make an impression so it seems, or maybe it’s just fluid and relatively skinny/lacking flesh for a GSM?  But then spice and savoury layers take hold, together with sinewy tannins, anchoring and amplifying the flavours, taking up space, on a lingering finish with a lick of medicinal herbs, saddle soap and deep-seated pepper and anise spice.  If it sounds disjointed it’s not. Hoadley is a dab hand at pulling off such sleights of winemaking hand (click here for my report of a visit).  13.5%  Imported by The Knotted Vine

Bekkers Syrah 2015 (McLaren Vale)

You might expect to see Syrah on Australian labels from cool climate wine regions.  But McLaren Vale?  Well, this is a truly Bilingüe, Fraustralian wine – Mr (Toby) Bekkers, the viticulturist, is Australian and Mrs (Emmanuelle) Bekkers, the winemaker, is French (click here for my report of a visit in 2015).   Probably the best modern-style McLaren Vale Syrah I’ve tasted.  It’s intensely fragrant and complex with a rasp of black pepper to nose and palate, liquorice, five spice, peonies and inky florals, a gentle savouriness and a touch of mocha oak.  As for the fruit, supple, concentrated but juicy blackberry and plum is sumptuous, yet vivid and fresh – very persistent.  Tasted at home, I lingered over this sensual Syrah for three days and it never stopped giving.  I loved, loved the tannins – fine spun, but mineral (iron filing) and present, as if interwoven with the fruit.  With terrific perfume, depth, length and detail, it is a seemingly bottomless pit of delights.  Bet it ages really well (if you can resist it now!)  The fruit was sourced from the Clarendon and Seaview sub-regions.  The ferment (18% whole bunches) was long, cool and gentle.  The wine was aged for 20 months in large (500l) French oak barrels, 40% new.  14.5%  £389/6 bottles in bond (2014 vintage) at Corkr.  Incidentally, click here for my notes on their equally  impressive 2015 Grenache and a great 2015 Syrah Grenache.
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