Brokenwood 40th anniversary: Graveyard Shiraz vertical, a sacred site

After this morning’s vertical of flagship ILR Semillon we returned to the corrugated steel roofed barrel room after a bite of lunch for a vertical of Brokenwood’s single vineyard Graveyard Shiraz (pictured).  It started to rain and, as one wag quipped, “it’s like vintage in the Hunter,” with the din of rain on the roof! 

I’ve just emerged from the barrel room to a smell of wet earth and eucalypt.  Didn’t get the eucalypt in the wine but wet to warm earth was certainly a feature of the Graveyard Shiraz.  Depending on vintage, even though the vertical reflected a marvellous sense of place and continuity (a sacred site if you will), at times I felt I could have been in the Rhone, Burgundy or Tuscany.  How does that work?  

Italianate cropped up in my notes for the most recent vintages and, yesterday, at Tyrrells, McWilliams and Andrew Thomas, where we largely tasted younger wines, it also featured in some of my notes.  There’s a shift in the Hunter towards cleaner, brighter Shiraz, still medium-bodied, but brimming with sour plum and cherryish fruit.  More rigorous fruit selection over the sorting table, less new oak, bigger format oak and more French oak (as opposed to US) tell a story, without losing the plot (both literally and metaphorically).  But I was glad to taste the older wines and, in particular, get a second bite at the cherry on the 86 Graveyard which we tasted at Landmark.  Old or new, if you enjoy wines of character, which reflect the light and shade of vintage, the Graveyard Shiraz is for you.

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