2000 Wendouree Shiraz Mataro, Clare Valley 13.7%

2000 Wendouree Shiraz MataroIt was Anzac Day, and the traditional dinner was sorted; roast lamb in the Weber with four veg and lots of rosemary, and just a hint of hickory to add another touch – ok not quite trad.

The really tough job however fell to me; search the cellar for a truly fine iconic Aussie red that might fit the occasion. And I was up for it, finally deciding on the 2000 Wendouree Shiraz Mataro. I was the fortunate recipient of a box of these, and also the shiraz, from a friend who was moving interstate and downsizing his cellar.

I did make a few notes from the experience:

Colour – dark ruby/garnet and no brick evident (even at 14 years), cork was in excellent condition.

Nose – initially it smelt of TCA, even after a double decant, lean, sharp, funky, chemical – yuk. But after 30 minutes it began to come to life and then took an hour to fully evolve. Slowly emerging were aromas of dark plums, chocolate, brooding black fruits, some mint even.

Palate – Full bodied, although only 13.7%, and hugely tannic are first impressions. Initially very lean but becomes more fleshy with time, plenty of spice, rich and full, chocolate and black fruit; the tannins are simply prodigious; in true spirit I never gave up till it was gone – and neither did the tannins. Other reviewers noted it needed 4 hours in a decanter before showing its true colours.

Some notes of context from James Halliday

‘An iron fist in a velvet glove best describes these extraordinary wines. They are fashioned with passion and precision from the very old vineyard (shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, mataro and muscat of Alexandria), with its unique terroir, by Tony and Lita Brady, who rightly see themselves as custodians of a priceless treasure. The 100-year-old stone winery is virtually unchanged from the day it was built; this is in every sense a treasure beyond price.’

And from Franz Scheurer

‘For many lovers of big Australian red wines the discussion begins and ends with Wendouree. Truly exceptionally cellar-worthy, these full bodied and gripping red wines are the result of extremely low yields from the very old, unirrigated vines of Shiraz, Malbec, Mataro (Mourvèdre), and Cabernet Sauvignon, many of them growing on untrellised bush-vines.

As remarkable as the wines are, even more remarkable are Tony and Lita Brady, who consider themselves the custodians of a priceless treasure: the 1914 stone winery, its original equipment, the time-honoured method of wine making and the time-forgotten vineyard at Clare. Tony Brady, holds a degree in law and Lita Brady, a fully qualified winemaker (Charles Sturt University) left high powered city careers to devote their lives to keeping Wendouree what it always has been: a place of honest, old fashioned, careful and artisan wine making where no short cuts are taken, ever.’

It was a privilege to drink this amazing wine, but at 14 years old it is nowhere near its peak, that’s probably at least 5–10 years away. If I wait that long I could be too frail to get the cork out, so in true ANZAC spirit, I’m going to have to battle my way through those formidable tannins on a more regular basis.

If I had to score the wine, I would probably come up with around 93, two of which would be for potential in 5 years. Happy to share one of these  with a like minded friend some time. You may not find this an easy going fruit friendly wine to drink, but I promise you, you will remember it.

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