Big, bold Henry's Drive Australian Shiraz
The character of Australia has much to do with the its size. This vast continent seems to breed larger-than life personalities. That's what I love about Australian wine as well - they are no-holds-barred and full of unabashed flavor.
I recently had the opportunity to taste some current releases from Henry's Drive and meet the winery's charismatic owner Kim Longbottom at a media dinner at Royal 35 Steakhouse. We tasted through a wonderful selection of her white and red wines. I was most fascinated by the range of Shiraz and Shiraz blends she presented, and her view that the land of Padthaway is perfect for this grape.
2012 Henry's Drive Shiraz - A lively Shiraz with spicy peppery notes layered on top of chocolate and cherries. Grapes are sourced from premium vineyards on the valley floor. As we gazed at the deeply colored wine, Kim remarked, "This is what premium Padthaway Shiraz should look like." And taste like, too, I'm sure.
2012 Henry's Drive Magnus Shiraz - A leaner, more angular style of wine that still offered beautifully expressive fruit flavors. This wine is sourced from super low yielding vines on a unique hillside site. It was the favorite wine of Kim's late husband Mark (the label sports an "M" in his honor) - and this dazzling vintage is a lovely tribute to him. The winery suggests decanting this one.
2010 Henry's Drive Magnus Shiraz - Two years older, the 2010 vintage shows signs of development - a bit more plush mouthfeel and with rich blackberry flavors. This vintage is testament to the longevity of these high quality wines.
2014 Henry's Drive "H" Syrah - Coming in at a modest price point of $27.99, this wine is dark in color and has lush depth of flavor with layers of dark fruit including plums and blackberries. Grapes from a loamy vineyard are hand selected for this wine, with some whole bunches vinified together.
2015 Pillar Box Shiraz - A lively floral aroma and deep plum flavors mix with a bit of minerality and a dash of pepper. This wine is a perfect entry level wine, letting consumers into the world of Padthaway Shiraz for a modest $21.99.
The ripe and flavorful Shiraz fruit plays nicely with Cabernet Sauvignon in Padthaway, and Henry's Drive offers some notable blends of these.
2012 Henry's Drive Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon - This blend of 65% Shiraz/35% Cab is so rich and expressive - clearly showcasing quality fruit that has ripened beautifully. It is Kim's favorite and I had to agree that I loved it, too.
2015 Pillar Box Red - The tenth vintage of the well known Pillar Box label, this wine brings fresh cherry flavors to the fore in a deeply colored wine. A terrific, affordable pour.
Our dinner at Royal 35 consisted of some spectacular cuts of meat, including the rack of lamb pictured above. The bold flavors of Henry's Drive Shiraz and red blend wines from Padthaway, Australia, easily stood up to the rich flavors of this indulgent meal.