Craggy Range Le Sol vertical

As impressive as the early Le Sol wines were in their day the more recent vintages signal a move in the right direction. (Photo: Craggy Range Wines)

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah qualifies, by my definition at least, for iconic status. It’s the flagship wine of an ambitious and well-funded family Hawke’s Bay-based winery that is working very hard to make wines that will be recognised as among the world’s best.

In recent years the wine retains that power but has become more elegant and, according to my notes, more complex.

I’ve tasted every Le Sol on or shortly after release, although I failed to record a tasting note for the 2001 vintage because it was tasted at a social function at the winery. I recall James Halliday’s remark when he sipped the first vintage. His distinctive eyebrows arched dramatically and he exclaimed: “This is f—ing good shiraz!”

The early examples of syrah appear to have been aimed at making wines of great intensity and power. In recent years the wine retains that power but has become more elegant and, according to my notes, more complex. As impressive as the early wines were in their day, the more recent vintages signal a move in the right direction.

I was recently invited to a vertical tasting of every vintage (Le Sol was not made in 2003 and 2012) of Le Sol by Air New Zealand, which had purchased the wines at auction.

It is interesting to compare the historic scores with my more recent ratings. I have added brief notes from the vertical tasting.

Vintage Historic Score Vertical Tasting Comments
2001 n/a 93 Mellow, developed wine with a curious gunpowder, stewed plum, dark berry and spices. Intense, mellow syrah.
2002 95 96+ Rich, ripe and silky smooth with plum, berry and oak. Youthful, quite oaky and clearly New World. Impressively youthful.
2004 96 95 Fresher, brighter and more perfumed wine with an appealing floral lift. Warming. Talcum powder tannins. Elegant.
2005 95 96 Attractive sweet fruit with hints of pepper, lavender and spice. Has an ink-like texture. Bright with energy and potential.
2006 97 97 Elegant wine with subtle power. Plum, berry, chestnut and a suggestion of floral and violet. Still developing.
2007 97 95 Dense with choc/mocha, cocoa powder. Intense but slightly pedestrian. Lacks perfume and energy.
2008 96 96 Complex red in a blockbuster style with pepper, floral, spice together with chocolate/mocha. Rich texture.
2009 98 97 Rich with good fruit purity. Dark berry, floral, violet, pepper supported by graphite tannins. Has potential.
2010 98 97 Powerful, perfumed, peppery wine in quite a floral and spicy style. More elegant and restrained than the 2009. Potential.
2011 95 94 Lacks concentration of others but perfume with floral, fresh herb and berry flavours. Fine-grained tannins.
2013 98 98 Voluptuous, generously proportioned wine that’s dense and sumptuous with ripe fruit flavours. Delicious now. Seductive.
2014 97 99 Terrific wine with elegance and power. Violet, berry, plum, spices and nutty oak. Wonderfully harmonious. Will age well.
2015 98 96+ Dense, chewy wine that seems a little slimmed-down in terms of style with brighter acidity than most.
2016 98 98 Elegant, high energy syrah with a wonderfully perfumed aroma. Subtle power. Should develop very well indeed.

 

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