Spinifex’s Syrah is Pete Schell’s take on a leaner, higher-toned expression of his adopted region. To this end, Schell sources from “…generally higher, cooler sites, where earlier harvesting gives wines with bright fruit expression and a textural freshness.” The wine, naturally fermented in a combination of stainless steel, wood and concrete fermenters, also sees a shorter maturation than the Esprit and Bête Noir, et al.
This is cropped from high, exposed parcels in the Barossa Valley and Eden Valleys, where the soils are generally poor and skeletal – for the most part light, gravelly and silty sands over deeply weathered base rocks of varied origins. Vine age varies from 20 to 50 years old, and all fruit is hand harvested. Pete notes that the Shiraz parcels for the ’16 Syrah, in particular, were harvested much earlier than normal and delivered compact wines with strong fruit expression, a fresh tannin edge and good natural acids. On the winemaking front, it’s the typical Spinifex, hands-off approach, centred on retaining primary fruit and freshness. Natural fermentation, with judicious use of whole clusters (on average 30%) and then maturation on fine lees in a mixture of old, large format oak and concrete tanks for 10 months prior to bottling without filtration. Again, despite the powerful year, here we see an expression of Barossa with rare finesse. This offers up lifted dark and red cherry fruit on the nose as well as hints of crushed herbs and smoke. The palate is super vibrant and succulent and the finish is sleek and fresh with a nip of powdery tannins. Overall it is a dangerously gluggable Syrah and brilliant value. Last year’s release was feted in The Wine Companion – “There’s only one word to describe a wine such as this: delicious – perhaps with a swear word or two to add emphasis.” With the 2016 we are in similar territory.
“It’s easy to be enchanted by this wine. It’ll garner complexity in time, while it’s sheer bliss to drink now thanks to its excellent fruit and perfectly poised tannins. A cascade of red fruits picks up a spice trail of star anise and cinnamon, some menthol too, en route to full-bodied, very detailed, palate.” 95 points, Halliday Wine Companion 2018