Craiglee Shiraz JADV 2017

Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges winemakers are ecstatic. One respondent rated the ripening conditions as the best this century, another went back further to the 1990s. Overall, low to moderate yields will be very high quality. JAMES HALLIDAY

finding a Cornas or Hermitage with the same finesse and complexity as a good Craiglee Shiraz would be a frighteningly expensive exercise MAX ALLEN

Pat and Dianne Carmody are what you might call salts of the earth, and make literally exceptional wines that have an unusual capacity to age JANCIS ROBINSON MW

A winery with a proud 19th-century record, Craiglee recommenced winemaking in 1976 after a prolonged hiatus. Produces one of the finest cool climate Shirazs in Australia, redolent of cherry, licorice and spice. JAMES HALLIDAY

I reread my offer for last year’s JADV and I opened with a statement explaining why so many of my offers come across as over the top or full of praise. Explaining that we taste a LOT of wine and only offer a tiny fraction. I then qualified that if you didn’t like the 2016 JADV something was wrong. Well, the 2017 is a very different beast and I think needs a bit more background, but the praise is just as high, maybe higher for this release.

The 2016 JADV was stunningly attractive right out of the gate. All the bits were in the right place and the wine had huge appeal and charm to spare. This years rendition is classic Craiglee in the best sense. It is deceivingly light in colour and weight. At first glance you would likely overlook the wines true depth and potential. It’s youthfully reticent and requires some air and time to start to show you its inherent quality and pedigree, both of which it has in spades.

This reminds me of some older vintages of Craiglee that have become gems given time in the cellar. According to Halliday this was one of the best vintages in the region and Pat seems to have used that to craft a Shiraz that reminds us why his estate is held in such cultish like regard by collectors of Australian wine for their longevity, their grace and their expression of one of our most unique and special terroirs.

See, the reason Pat’s wines are so highly regarded isn’t because of their upfront fruit and boisterous personalities. The Shiraz produced here are wines that are often less than forthcoming when young. Some older vintages had really light looking colours and were, light to medium weight (in the context of the variety and certainly by Australian Shiraz standards) in their early days. These were wines that confounded many when they were first introduced to them, myself included.

Having cut my teeth on the bigger styles of wine being made in South Australia it was difficult to reconcile how a wine that didn’t have that kind of obviousness and brut force could go the distance in the cellar. Over many years, and having been lucky enough to taste quite a lot of Craiglee throughout their aging periods, I have begun to grasp what the great years look like and they aren’t those that sing the loudest but rather those that have perfect pitch and that seems to be the general feeling you get here.

This is one for the cellar but if you wanted to open it early then just make sure you give it a good, long decant. It’s Craiglee like fans always want to see.