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Torzi Matthews, Schist Rock Shiraz 2007

February 23, 2009

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~$20US, 100% Shiraz, Eden Valley, Australia

I’ve been eager to try more new(er) world wines that are less spoofalated, and was recommended this boutique Shiraz from the Eden Valley. Torzi Matthews does a good job of keeping things natural – hands-on in the vineyards and hands-off in the winery – Relying on low watering, composting,  natural ground cover,  some whole bunches in the fermentation, and natural yeasts.  I personally appreciate these aspects of wine-growing – this kind of care tends to connect the growers more closely to their craft.

The Schist Rock poured a rich royal purple. The nose lept from the glass with mulling spices – cinnamon, clove, with green olives and blackberries. Plums and prunes.  Very perfumed – almost noxiously so at first. A quick sip displayed some serious power here – and a slightly soft, but well-balanced structure to support the fruit and spice.

I let it decant for a few hours and came back to it with some braised short ribs.  It had settled down beautifully – and showed much more integration and harmony. The perfume and fruit had subsided just a hair, bringing in some secondary leather and subtle ham-smoke flavors. The fruit here is quite ripe – and played into my sweet tooth with a serious yum factor – but the alcohol (reported @14%ABV) was kept very well contained – and I tend to be more sensitive there.  The wine kept improving with air and began showing off a great minerality with thyme and bay leaf in the finish. Schisty indeed.

The highlight was the chewey last sip, and checking out the decanter afterward – I swear there was enough sediment to rebuild an entire cluster of grapes. I saw an actual stem. Awesome.

This is a bunch of wine for the money – big, brutish and powerful –  a little rusticity but there is an air of elegance (the proverbial football player taking the ballet classes).  Not over the top, a la Molleydooker but right at the top. There is enough stuff here to please the geekiest wine geeks – but the accessibility makes this a real winner and big value at the top end of the value Shirazi.

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