Craggy Range Le Sol vertical
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.|