2003 ‘Hell Hole’ Shiraz

HHS-2003[1]Wine Notes

Background: The name Pokolbin as legend has it, is derived from the early Hungarian migrant settlers to the area and means ‘hot as hell’ or ‘hell hole’, referring to the hot, dry and sometimes inhospitable summers that regularly top 45º C.

2003 is the first release of this label which is inspired by the severe drought conditions.

Fruit Source: The wine is made from fruit harvested off the low yielding. 37 year old Howard family’s “Somerset” vineyard in Pokolbin.

Fermentation & Maturation: The fruit was fermented in open vats and then pressed into French oak hogsheads and matured for 24 months. The wine was then bottled in March 2005 with minimum filtration. Because of this, over time a harmless crust may appear in the bottle.

Winemakers Comments: We experimented and went away from our usual use of barriques (225 litre) and matured this wine in French hogsheads (300 litre), of which 50% were new. The use of larger oak allowed longer time in barrel to soften the tannins. The resulting wine has dark berry fruit intensity, but remains elegant and soft which is what Hunter Shiraz is renowned for.

The dense drought vintage fruit has soaked up the oak perfectly to make a well balanced, seamless Shiraz.

Cellaring: Medium to long term. 12+ years

What the experts say:

“A very black purple colour. It smells fantastic offering up aromas of blackberry and cassis, new leather, licorice, smokehouse and vanilla. On the palate a very dense wine that is packed with smooth ripe tannins and flavours of dark cherry, blackberry and savoury smoky oak. Although it is thick, muscular and concentrated it is also beautifully balanced and very sophisticated. Finished very long and dry. In many ways it reminds me of a top flight Northern Rhone…a mini La La if you like. This is benchmark Australian Shiraz from a classic Hunter vintage. Buy it. You must.

96 points

Gary Walsh – Winorama – October 2005.

“It was matured in French Hogsheads, 50% of which was new, and that time in larger oak has done it wonders. It’s concentrated and brutish, but soft and stylish too, with clovey, cedary, high-gloss notes to exquisite plum and cherry earth. This has all the makings of a classic Hunter Shiraz, and given time should mature into exactly that. Drink: 2010-2017

94 points

Campbell Mattinson – Winefront Monthly Oct/Nov 2005

“Top 25 Wines Of The Year”

Campbell Mattinson – Collected Reviews 2005

Runner – up “Red Wine Of The Year 2005”

John Lewis-Newcastle Herald-January 2006

“Slightly more advanced colour (than the Alexander Munro); quite focused and intense black fruits; good structure and length. Screwcap. 14.5% alc.

Rating 94 Drink 2015.

James Halliday-2007 Australian Wine Companion.

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