Region: Hunter Valley
Background: Terracotta wines get their name from the soils on which the fruit is grown. These red clay soils are renowned for their low fertility thus reducing the yield of the vine and increasing fruit concentration.
Fruit source: The Howard family’s ‘Somerset’ old-vine shiraz vineyard in the heart of Pokolbin.
Fermentation: 3% Viognier fruit was added to the Shiraz and allowed to co-ferment in 2 tonne open vats. 25% whole bunches were also included.
Maturation: When fermentation had ceased, the wine was then pressed out and transferred into a combination of 70% 1 year-old and 30% new French oak Hogsheads and matured for 20 months.
Winemaker’s comments: 2009 was a much better vintage for the Hunter than the disastrous 2008 for Shiraz. The earlier ripening vineyards that avoided the heavy deluge on St. Valentines Day (120mm in 24 hours) have produced many very impressive wines.
Tasting note: A glossy crimson colour in the glass; the nose is subtly lifted by the Viognier and compliments the berry fruits. There are also hints of mixed spice and licorice. The palate is a mix of blueberry and black cherry flavours and proudly medium-bodied. Tannins are ripe and supple giving the wine a silky long finish.
Cellaring estimate: Medium term.
Suggested food match: Rack of Lamb.