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Grant Burge (Australia) Balthasar 2002
This wine comes in at just a shade under £16 a bottle, so somewhat above my usual Wine of the Week price limit. But it is an exceptional new wine from the Eden valley vineyards of maestro Grant Burge. There has been a real vogue in the last couple of years for New World winemakers to switch from 100% Shiraz for their premium reds, to wines which follow the mould of the Rhône's Côte-Rôtie and blend in a little of the white grape Viognier. In this case around 7% Viognier was co-fermented with hand-picked Shiraz before 16 months ageing in one, two and three year-old French barriques. The nose has that expressive little lift of cherry blossom and old roses, over a clove and cinnamon spice and a raft of earthy, dark berry fruit. There's a subtle background coffee and toast that leads on to a palate that is very elegant and bright, with focused cherry and juicy redcurrant fruit, and a whole spice-cupboard of anise, clove and pepper that tingles on the back of the tongue. Only 13% alcohol means there's a lightness about this, even though it is powerful and deep-chested, with hints of prunes and fruit compote, warming toasty notes and spice, and precise tannins adding grip. This is the best of the new wave Shiraz/Viogniers I've tasted so far, and is excellent. There are only 40 cases in the UK priced 15.95 per bottle from Old Forge Wine Cellar.