Keith Tulloch Hunter Valley Shiraz Viognier 2020  £15.95

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These thoughtful, hand-crafted wines hail from the Hunter Valley with a nod in part to the great Rhône Valley wines of Hermitage and Cote Rôtie. For those who may have tasted any legendary Hunter Shiraz wines of the 40s, 50s and 60s, tasting many of the modern Hunter wines can be a depressing experience but Keith Tulloch is very different, adding to that great legacy with a series of wines that uniquely capture the exotic spice and hedonistic pleasure of dense and rich Shiraz fruit. These are sensuous, subtle wines with the velvety texture of fine burgundy.

Vintage experience in the Rhône Valley during 1996 showed Keith Tulloch the magic of Viognier co-fermenting with Shiraz. The great reds of Côte Rotie are reknowned for their small blended percentage of the white grape variety Viognier. Many of the beguilingly perfumed, silky textured, and finer tannin reds of the Rhône are made in this way, and this certainly contributes in part to their young-drinking charm. When blended, Viognier can stabalize and enhance the colour of shiraz, bringing a glaze or sheen to the wine. A silky texture rather than a taste with floral aromas, heighten the Shiraz characters. A Rhône Valley style, with the Shiraz co-fermented with 5% Viognier in open vats. Both varietal components are fully ripe when harvested late in the Vintage, producing bright richness of aroma and soft complexity to the palate. The wine is matured for 12 months in fine French oak barriques adding cedary complexity.

Fine French oak fragrances chime in, adding a delicate touch of warm vanilla and cedar-spice harmony. This medium bodied red has an extraordinarily alluring balance throughout, and a sensationally silky persistence; it has been made to mature and soften beautifully with 4+ years in the cellar. Great with any food that's equally rich and smooth yet also offers a gently kick of spice. Try with Chinese spare ribs, beef stir fry or barbecued fish.

James Halliday: 90 Points

Destemmed and crushed, co-fermented with 5% viognier, 5 weeks maceration, thence to used French oak for 12 months maturation. Medium to full-bodied, black cherry, blackberry, firm tannins, good line, length and balance.

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