Elderton Friends Vineyard Series Shiraz 2009: Intensity With Brightness

barossaElderton Wines shows you how great Australian wines and wineries can be. They’re family-owned and operated. They have vineyards dating back to the 19th century. They express terroir with elegance and style. And oh yeah — they’ve won a boatload of awards for their fabulous wines.

Deservedly so. Their primary Barossa line shows the big, bold style that the region is famous for. But they have another project, the Friends Vineyard Series, that says “Barossa” on the front label, but is designed to showcase a lesser-known sub-region.

The Eden Valley vineyards from which this fruit is sourced don’t sit on the Barossa Valley floor. They’re scattered up the hillsides, at elevations from 1200 to 1500 feet. Combine the effects of elevation with the cooler, wetter climate and more minerally soils of the Eden Valley sites, and you get fruit with more acid and structure, along with intense flavors.

When I poured the Elderton Friends Vineyard Series 2009 Shiraz, I saw what I expected: intense deep garnet and purple color that you could barely shine a pin-light through. The nose hit me with fruit, as I expected it would, but it wasn’t just tooty-fruity. There was lots of cedar and spice, tart red berries, and even a bit of meatiness tickling the back.

The palate had all sorts of stuff going on. The first was black raspberry candy. Ever had a black raspberry Jolly Rancher? If they made them, they would taste like this. And that’s a good thing — the rich fruit was clean and not jammy. Because the crisp acid jumped in right behind the fruit. It lifted the palate and made way for the eucalyptus and mint that followed. My palate was not quite overwhelmed, because as the finish lingered, a little black licorice teased me.

Boy — there’s enough stuff here for a meal. And did I mention my meal?

I was eating Seared Tuna as I sipped my Elderton, and the match turned out to be brilliant, if I do say so myself. The slight smokiness of the tuna was perfect with the sweet black raspberry fruit.

And this really was a good food wine. You might think that Aussie Shiraz is a meal in itself, but the Eden Valley version has so much natural acid that it keeps the wine bright and laser-beam clean. Elderton Friends is actually a fairly mind-blowing combination of intense fruit and tangy brightness.

And oh yeah — there are a few things you don’t get with this wine. The first is heavy oak, which used to be considered a feature of all Barossas. The second is a big price tag. You can take home the Friends Shiraz for under $20, and that’s a lot of fun for the money. Cheers!

 

 

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