Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taltarni 2007 Shiraz

Producer: Taltarni
Name: Shiraz 2007
Varietal: Shiraz
Region: Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia
Vintage: 2007
Tasted: August 6, 2013
ABV: 14%

At my day job, there used to be a woman named Donna who managed the Data Department. Donna has since passed away, but her memory lives on, not least because of her keen wit and fondness for pithy refrains. One in particular stands out: Altogether too often, she would receive a complex question, email back a complete answer, and receive a slew of follow up questions that quite suspiciously dealt with only the material below the second line of her answer. Donna would reply: "Read all the words!" usually with smiley face emoticon or a chuckle in her voice.

It really is sound advice. I find evidence countless times every week of people blowing by the written word, not only in my capacity as Donna's successor, but in fact as the actual transgressor in my everyday life. How often I have skimmed a food label, skipped through a newspaper article, neglected the instructions in filling out a form, even ignored completely the words on my own parking ticket! We are all guilty of failing to read all the words, gaining a modicum of convenience now in exchange for a much larger degree of inconvenience later, and we all pay for it in ways large and small.

In the case of my skimming the Taltarni 2007 Shiraz label, it is, let us say, a muddled issue. On the back label it says that the wine can be either drunk now or else cellared for a decade. I did read the words without urging, but not until after I had drunk the wine, and of course it turns out that drinking the wine anyway was allowed, but maybe I would have preferred to wait if only I had known. Whatever. Let's just blame me and move on.

The wine, in any event, came off exceptionally young. It should be about ready to drink now, but it is not, at least not without breathing for a while. It has a very young, purple-garnet look to it. The liquid is dark, almost opaque. It flirts with non-purpley tones on the outermost edges, but still, it looks like it was bottled last year. The nose offers luscious, pungent, dark reds: pomegranate, black plum, dried cherry. Rosehips and cedar perform a duet, adding not so much another aroma as an extra element to each of the others. But the sweetness is predominant, and luxuriously so.

On the palate, this Shiraz is rich, thick, and heavy. It is as spicy as it is sweet, which is a lot. The dark fruits are out in droves: black cherry, dark berries, and even balsamic. The same spicy/herby underlayer of rosehips and cedar as we had in the nose appears again here in the palate. The tasting notes are pungent. Presently one notices notes of pomegranate pushing out from underneath the rest. Is that oakiness I taste? The wine is smooth, though rather too heavy for itself. It finishes sweetly and strongly (though without pungency or spice) with notes of black plum.

This wine really shows its youth, which is surprising for a wine as old as this. However, I will say that I just love how the fruit notes pass off the baton to one another: fluidly, but not linearly or directly; in rapid fire yet effortlessly; consistently yet not repetitively; with excitement and liveliness; and brimming with personality. Each hand-off is a dance move, an example of art, a unique, creative, kinetic gesture that adds a crucial element of sophistication and maturity to this wine. It is excellently executed on each and every pass, quite remarkably well done.

Even better is this: after breathing for twenty minutes, the wine is a brand new beverage! Aeration really does work miracles; the difference is like that of night and day. The fruits in the aroma have lightened up big time. The nose catches light strawberry, redcurrant, cherry, and pomegranate notes. Of course the wine does not smell super-mature, but it is much more appropriate. The pungency is gone, but the sweetness remains sophisticated - in fact, it is easier to pick up on the complexities now.

The tasting notes are much lighter, too, and perhaps best of all, the body has lightened up. It is still rich compared to many wines - not really light or thin - but no longer heavy or viscous. The fruits lightened up: pomegranate in front, and cherry, strawberry, and berries behind it. The spice is there, but lighter and more fluid, like the rest of the notes. That whole thing about how the various notes interact so wonderfully is even more outstanding now. The finish is delightful, with notes of plum and pomegranate, lasting nice and long without actually overstaying its welcome.

The aeration of this wine produced one of the largest turns-around that I have ever experienced, and it was fantastic. I encourage everyone to try this wine, but not right away. Patience is definitely a virtue here, whether you wait for twenty minutes or for half a decade. Enjoy.

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