This is Winestar’s 2012 winSeppelts chalambar 2009 smalle of the year and they are still drawing out last supplies to the market. Bert Werden has a lot of customers (including me), so he is not known for putting out something just to sell it, although of course he must in order to stay afloat. In fact over the years I must say I have found his wine judgements pretty sound; indeed Winestar has been the source of a great deal of the standout wines I have bought over the last several years.

In truth there are most likely up to a hundred wines that could have made the grade for this gong – so why this one. I do think Bert has a slight leaning to the ‘leaner’, more elegant, savoury, and lower alcohol wines of his native Victoria; and I do too, including both the shiraz and pinot noir varieties.

BW notes: ‘Deep, dark red. An intense and complex nose of dark berry aromas, sweet spice and dark chocolate nuances with underlying, integrated cedary oak. This dense medium to full bodied wine has fleshy palate weight with flavours of spicy dark berry fruits and chocolate, supported by velvety textural tannins and cedary oak. The finish is long with a savoury complexity. Cellaring Potential To 2030.’

My notes were thus (March 2013) >>> this is  a beguiling, intriguing wine; it’s colour is crimson red still with a purple tinge, the nose is of bright red fruits and peppery spice but has subsided a little since it’s first release. It’s in the palate that the wine sings. Medium bodied only but mouthfilling, superfine tannins and savoury notes add to the fragrant fruit; it still has a fine acid backbone, and the finish through the veil of tannins is harmonious, rich and lingering.

Anyway that’s all I can come up with for now, let’s look at what James Halliday had to say in the 2012 Australian Wine Companion.

‘Vivid colour; beautifully polished and highly perfumed red and black fruits, violets, black pepper and clove; truly medium-bodied, fresh, succulent and vibrant, with racy acidity, fine-grained tannins and great persistence; long, harmonious and seamless. A lovely wine. 13.5% alc. Rating 95.’

An additional review from James Halliday:

‘A wine label with a great heritage, and fulfils its birthright in every detail of the stylish bouquet and palate; black fruits, spice and black pepper enliven the long, medium-bodied palate, opening additional doors across its length and aftertaste; the tannin structure and oak are exemplary. Drink by: 2040; Date tasted: 28 Aug 2012; Price:$26.90; Alcohol:13.5%; Rating: 96 Points & Top 100 Wines of 2012 – James Halliday, The Weekend Australian, November 17-18, 2012


John Fordham of the Sunday Telegraph writes:

‘The 2009 Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz ($26) and 2008 Seppelt St Peters Grampians Shiraz ($69) provide consummate evidence of fine winemaking and meticulous fruit selection. The Chalambar has been around for almost 60 years, a wine first brought to prominence by legendary winemaker Colin Preece. Fruit is sourced from two highly distinctive and contrasting wine regions, Grampians and Bendigo. The elegance and softness of the Grampians component tempers the bold strength of the Bendigo fruit delivering a wine with first-rate length and structure.’

And Ken Gargett of Spit Bucket adds the following, in case there was any doubt:

‘Time of writing, this wine is about to hit the bottleshops. What absolute cracking value it is. Fill the cellar. And it is a tribute to the winemaking skills of Emma Wood, as this is very impressive for the vintage. Black fruits, leather, black jellybeans, florals, aniseed, spice. This is towards the elegant end of the spectrum. Quite fine tannins. Plenty of length. This is a shiraz with breeding – and to say that about a wine at this price, from that vintage, you have to be impressed. Balance, finesse, intensity, a good future. Delicious. Have not seen too many better Chalambars, I suspect. 93 Points.’

As for me, I also have a few of these left from previous vintages going back to 2002, and not one of the bottles has cost more than $20. Every time we open one of the older bottles it is always a revelation; one of the earlier wines to to go screwcap, they are now opening full of vibrancy and complexity, layers of delight in every glass. This has to be a contender for the best cellaring sub $20 wine in Australia.