Fontodi Syrah Colli Toscana Centrale IGT 2013

Estate: The Fontodi estate has been in the hands of the Manetti family since 1968. The family has been strongly connected to the Chianti region for centuries, producing Tuscany’s famous “terrecotte” tiles. Located in the stunningly beautiful hills of Panzano, the 130 hectare estate [70 of which are vineyards] is certified organic. Inspired by nature and sustainability, the estate is committed to maximizing “the internal resources of the estate, thereby reducing the need for any external input”.

Philosophy: “Respecting the environment means wines that are better, purer, and a truer expression of the grape and the territory.”

Winemaking: Grapes are hand harvested from the Case Via and Pecille estate vineyards, both with a south exposure. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts for 3 weeks, aged in Troncais and Allier barrels, 50% new for 12 months.

Tasting Notes: Inky violet in colour with intense dark fruit, gamey and meaty aromas. Layers of rich blueberry, blackberry and black pepper are framed by solid tannins and fresh acidity. Smoky earth and peppery spice linger between each plush sip. Powerful, muscular and with a bold alcohol content, yet maintains such an approachable, easy drinking character that the bottle empties rather swiftly.

100% Syrah
Colli Toscana Centrale IGT
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Fontodi
15% Alcohol
€36 [Average price, I paid €48 in a restaurant in Florence.]
Enjoy now thru 2022

The Ripper & Basalt Block: A Study in Hope Estate Shiraz

A study in Shiraz; from the same vintage and producer, one ripe and jammy, the other savory and mineral driven. Both are excellent, approachable and tremendous values within Australian Shiraz.

Estate: Hope Estate was founded by Michael Hope in 1994, with a goal of being able to focus all his time and passion into winemaking. Beginning with 30 acres of vines in Broke in the Hunter Valley, over the years he has been able to obtain unique vineyards throughout Australia, such as 200 acres of the famed red basalt soil at Fordwich. In 2006, Michael purchased the Rothbury Estate, a 420 acre winery in the heart of Pokolbin. Renamed Hope Estate, it has become an icon, symbolizing the best in Hunter. It is a premier destination with an amphitheater that hosts legendary bands, a brewery and restaurant.

Hope Estate ‘The Ripper’ Shiraz 2014

Winemaking: Grapes are from estate vineyards on the west coast of Australia, in the cool hills of Donnybrook. Aged for 12-15 months in 50% French oak/50% American oak. “The Ripper” is an Australian term for “great”.

Tasting Notes: Deep red-violet in colour, with alluring aromas of chocolate, cherry, plum, allspice and a trace of forest floor. Ripe raspberry, cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate and a hint of grilled pepper are framed by solid tannins and good acidity. Vanilla, toasted oak, earth and black pepper comprise the lengthy, plush finish.

100% Shiraz
14.5% Alcohol
$18 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2024
Rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast

Hope Estate ‘Basalt Block’ Shiraz Hunter Valley 2014

Winemaking: A single vineyard wine, grapes came from the ‘Basalt Block’ vineyard located in the Broken Back Mountains in Hunter Valley. The Mountains were formed by volcanic activity, leaving behind red soils rich in basalt. Aged in new and old French hogsheads [slightly larger than a standard barrel, holding between 225-250 Litres] for 13 months.

Tasting Notes: Inky garnet in colour, with engaging, predominately savory aromas of clove, flint minerals, black pepper and cherry. Silky layers of cherry, black cherry, blackberry, red currant and crushed black peppercorn align with fresh acidity and dry, firm tannins. Smoky minerality, black cherry, and toasted oak linger between each velvety sip.

100% Shiraz
13.5% Alcohol
Hunter Valley
$14 [average price]
Rated 88 points and ‘Best Buy’ & ‘Year’s Best Shiraz’ by Wine Enthusiast

Samples submitted for editorial consideration.

Wild Oats Central Ranges Shiraz 2011


Big and bold with velvety fruit wrapped around a spicy, earthy core.

Winery: Wild Oats wines are a label of Robert Oatley Vineyards, founded over 40 years ago by accomplished businessman and passionate sailor Robert [Bob] Oakley. Today the winery is still headed by Bob Oatley, along with his eldest son Sandy. Combining Bob’s lifelong passion for both winemaking and sailing, Wild Oats is named in honor of his successful series of yachts. Grapes for the Wild Oates brand are sourced from vineyards located in the Central Ranges district just over the Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney.

Philosophy: “To craft wines that have varietal clarity, focus and which reflect their provenance – in a very modern fashion”. Wild Oats wines are intended to be “approachable – modern classics – crafted for immediate enjoyment and drinking”. Wines of character and integrity.”

Winemaking: The Oatley family is committed to protecting the environment; sustainable methods are practiced in both the vineyards and other winemaking production areas. Although not certified, the vineyards are farmed organically, and wines are made with as little intervention as possible.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of brambly wild berries and black pepper. Layers of wild berry jam and spicy black pepper wrap around an earthy core and finish with velvety black cherry along with traces of chocolate and smoky oak.

100% Shiraz
Central Ranges
Produced and Bottled by Robert Oatley Vineyards
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now

Pasos de la Capula Syrah 2012


A good value at only $9, easy drinking and a pleasant companion to hearty dishes. [Photobomb by Rocky]

Winery: Bodegas Abanico is a project created by Rafael De Haan and Nuria Altes with the mission of searching out the best wines from all of the regions in Spain [and now also South America]. They work closely with winemakers to present wines of “regional authenticity, varietal character, as well as great value”. They spotlight clean expression of the fruit, and aim to produce everyday wines “that are enjoyable to drink with good balance and control of both tannins and alcohol”.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of grape jam, autumn woods and black pepper. Black cherry and slightly tart blackberry flavours harmonise with silky tannins, dried black fruits and pink peppercorn on the plush finish.

Syrah [I could not verify varietal percentage]
Castilla la Mancha
Bottled for Bodegas Abanico, S.L. by R.E. No. CLM 386/CU
13% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2015

Excelsior Syrah 2011


Easy drinking and versatile at the table, with an engaging combination of jammy fruit and a smoky, earthy backbone.

Estate: The De Wet family have been cultivating the land at Excelsior Estate in South Africa since 1859. Throughout the years many different products have been farmed, but wine has consistently been produced. Today the family has 220 hectares of vineyards and a goal of producing “full-bodied wines that display intense fruit”.

Philosophy: A “good wine starts in the vineyards”, therefore they employ strict methods such as hand harvesting and extremely spare use of chemicals.

Winemaking: The 2011 vintage experienced extreme weather conditions including heat, cold, and both rain and drought, which resulted in more concentrated flavours.

Tasting Notes: Inky purple-red in color with aromas of black cherry, grape jam and crushed white peppercorn. Tasting very similar to its aromas, with plum, black currant and grape notes supported by a smoky, earthy funk and hints of leather. Smooth tannins, white peppercorn and hints of dark chocolate comprised the moderate finish.

90% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot
South Africa
Produced & Bottled by Excelsior
14% Alcohol
Rated 85 points by Wine Enthusiast