Pepper Tree is one of the wineries to star in my latest shiraz tastings. This Hunter Valley-based winery continues its steady and inexorable rise, with terrific wines coming from its Hunter Valley labels as well as Orange.
The outstanding 2014 Hunter vintage drives the great quality of the Coquun 2014 (tasting) and Tallawanta 2014 (tasting), priced (sharp intake of breath) at $90 and $145 respectively, and both sourced from the great Tallawanta Vineyard in central Pokolbin. These are statuesque shirazes, which succeeding generations will re-taste and re-evaluate endlessly for decades to come. Last year, I thought the 2013s of both these wines were smashing, but the ‘14s are even better.
The ’14 is the last vintage Pepper Tree had access to the Tallawanta fruit, though: from 2015 the vineyard is in the Brokenwood stable (tastings). No doubt Brokenwood’s team will also do justice to the grapes, but meanwhile, if you’re in the hunt for great Hunter shiraz to put down, don’t miss these.
Other wineries among the many to perform well in my tasting of 130 shirazes are Dominique Portet Heathcote 2013 (tasting), certainly the best shiraz I can recall ever tasting from the hands of father and son team Dominique and Ben Portet: a really cracking wine;
Alex Head’s Head Wines The Blonde (tasting) and The Brunette (tasting) 2014s are both wonderful wines: modern shirazes made by a younger-generation winemaker of great talent, yet unequivocally Barossan in caste. Both are superb.
And a final mention must go to an old favourite, Clonakilla, for its 2014s. The Hilltops (tasting) is a very good Hilltops, and O’Riada (tasting) is a very good O’Riada, as is the flagship shiraz viognier (tasting) – lovely wines all, even if I’m not convinced they are quite as impressive as the stellar 2013s. They are certainly right up there.