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2008 Syrahmi – Maelstrom


1. A violent or turbulent situation: caught in the maelstrom of war.
2. A whirlpool of extraordinary size or violence.

This sums up the 2008 vintage in one word Maelstrom!

In 2007 my quest to find some of the best growing areas in Heathcote, led me to a new spot in the Mt Camel Ranges roughly 25 km north of the Heathcote Township. Named Camel Back; it’s a relatively young vineyard with great potential planted out with Shiraz clone PT23 on a mix of rootstock and own roots.  Soil types vary ranging from red clay intermixed with ironstone on Block 2 through to a narrow strip of ancient pre-Cambrian soil 550 million years old on Block 5. Furthermore – Viticulturist Stuart Wareham, his eye for detail and understanding of the vineyard and land is I believe sets this vineyard apart in the Heathcote Region.

We all remember the heat wave in the second week of March 2008; 40+ deg for 7+ days across Australia.

It was such a gentle growing season before the hot spell; December and January were in fact quite cool, and so it was shaping up to be a great vintage. Luckily I had picked all my fruit before the heat with the first grapes being picked on the 26th Jan and the last coming in on the 5th of February. As such I managed to escape the worst of it.

The wine is intensely focused, black with bright purple hue, a riot of perfume and spice with ripe raspberries and cherries, black pepper, Asian spiced aromatics with savory smoked meat complexity all wrapped around sexy French oak. Finely textured, medium bodied palate with super long length, clean refreshing acidity finishing with fine velvet like savory tannins.

Facts on Syrahmi Maelstrom:

  • Handpicked grapes < 2 tonnes per acre
  • Single Vineyard, single Shiraz clone PT23 used
  • 5 day cold soak < 8˚C
  • Wild yeast ferment and malolatic fermentation
  • Only whole berry with 20% whole bunch
  • Only hand pigeage
  • Extended time 19-25 days on skins before pressing
  • Fourteen months in 100% French oak, 30% new
  • Unfined & unfiltered bottled in April 2009
  • Only 500 cases and 60 magnums released
  • Released 1st September 2009

What the critics say:

Tim White 95 Points!

“ The best Syrahmi to date (the wine debuted with the ’04 vintage). This has mown grass and super-raspberry coulis fruit in the nose, a touch of bacon fat smokiness too: smells seriously good. Some apricot. Forest berry sweet in the mouth, but also tight and tangy with fine dry, building tannins. Mouth-watering to close: a delicious supple red.”

Tim White – The Financial Review, 2009

Jeremy Oliver 92 points!
“A fascinating, alluring Rhône-inspired shiraz of medium to full weight whose very spicy perfume of blackberries, cloves and white pepper is lifted by a profound floral presence. Backed by pencil shavings-like oak and an undercurrent of minerality, it steadily becomes rounder and sweeter on the palate, retaining its dryness and savoury finish. With a little more structure it would rate even higher. Very promising indeed, and further proof that Heathcote can make delicious shiraz under 15% alcohol.”
Jeremy Oliver, Feb 2010

The Winehouse


Very lifted. Very peppery. Very meaty and alive. It’s the kind of red you’d label as ‘exotic’. It tastes too of licorice and red jelly beans, blackberry and toast. It has fine, chalky tannins and a fresh, clean, delicious finish. A wine you just want to drink and drink and drink. And smell – the aromas here are terrific. It needs a bit more punch to warrant a higher rating – though for drinking enjoyment, it’s right up there. My kind of wine.

LESTER JESBERG, Winewise, Dec. 2009

Until now Heathcote reds have delivered more disappointments than thrills, but this one tips the balance in favour of the latter. It’s an exciting medium-weight style that echoes the spice and bramble of the northern Rhône but maintains its own identity by way of the strong core of red fruits that runs the length of an impressive palate. This is a finely structured, perfectly poised, downright gorgeous red. Outstanding

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