Beer & Wine

From the Cellar: Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Stevens Shiraz 2005         

Last Sunday afternoon I walked into the house and was welcomed by the wafts of slow cooked lamb shoulder.

Now, I must admit I am spoilt in many ways by being married to a lamb farmer’s daughter, but when the in-laws hit the big smoke I am especially spoilt with an esky full of fresh lamb.

Hypnotised by the cool autumn air and slow cooking lamb, I found myself in the cellar looking for a wine to complete the afternoon.

And boy did I find a real treasure. The Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard Stevens Shiraz 2005.

Now the Hunter Valley is very close to my heart. It was where cut my teeth as a very young wine guy looking to break into the wine industry, with two stints in the Hunter in 1992 and 1994. During these vintages I worked for Lindeman’s, under the mentoring of Jay Tulloch who, at the time, was General Manager. The time spent working 15 hours days, seven days a week and living and partying with like-minded young wine students was one I will never forget. It was during this time I really fell for the wine industry.

Tyrrell’s have always been a constant force in the Hunter. Now with Chris Tyrrell, a fifth generation winemaker working closely with his father Bruce, the wines remain a benchmark for Hunter Valley standards. In particular, those wines from the Tyrrell’s Sacred Sites – land renowned for its ability to produce fruit so good and so different it warrants individual bottling.

The Steven Vineyard is one of these Sacred sites, where Neil Stevens owns the Old Hillside block and where there is a tiny patch of shiraz that is home to the oldest (and still still producing) vines in the Hunter Valley. The Old Patch, as it is known, was planted in 1867 making it nearly 150 years old. The Tyrrell’s have been working with the Stevens for decades to produce this Shiraz which is a cracker of a drop.

Back to the cellar, the wine was 12-years-old. Hunter wines of this pedigree age beautifully so I knew this was going to be a treat. The mastery of the region is its ability to produce savoury and complex shiraz without the syrupy and richness that is so common in many many other famous Shiraz regions.

I decanted the wine and after 30 minutes the mocha, coffee, dark chocolate and classic old leather aromas where rising from the glass. In the mouth the wine showed itself to be evenly weighted and balance, and the flavours of dark chocolate and cherry reminded me of a Black Forest cake. After, I was pleasantly left dwelling on the lingering savoury flavours.

We ate a Middle Eastern inspired slow cooked lamb shoulder with pearl barley, and this Sunday afternoon partner from the Hunter Valley played its role perfectly.