Spring Australian Deals - March 2018

Most of you know us. In the main, we rather pride ourselves on not running sales, bin ends and Everything-Must-Gos.

Instead, we simply operate with some of the lowest margins in the UK and keep our prices there consistently. <We know that folk buying in bulk expect us to be able to drop away another 10% (as is the norm in England), but Scottish law explicity prevents that... so we simply make our big discounts apply on the first bottle and every one that follows>.


But even we have the odd exception. Like a number of larger merchants, we hold stocks in bond(ed warehouse), especially for wines that we might send for export, for higher-value wines and those we hold to age. Or, normally, some combination of those. In our case, that's just a few wines, but in reasonable numbers. It's only a small part of what we do, the bond thing, but it has an occasional impact on what we offer on-line.

In that bonded warehouse, we've been ageing a selection of great Australian reds for some years (with no particular wish to wave them goodbye). From time to time, we take a good, hard look and re-evaluate the market price for those wines ... and sometimes there comes a point when we want to release those.

So today is very good news if you like Australian Shirazes (or even a very fine Grenache) with some age (and the development flavours that come with it): these wines afford an excellent opportunity to buy some world-class, ready-aged wines without the cost that often accompanies them.


What are we offering? Well, start where you like. They're all great, and cover a range of price points:

- at the serious-luxury and sumptous end, we've the Elderton Command Shiraz 2003 - a Barossa blockbuster held in the very highest esteem, and now (for this wine) right in its prime drinking window (reduced from £46 to an incredible £31.20);

- the Clarendon Hills Blewitt Springs Grenache 2005 (from McLaren Vale) is an exemplar of great world Grenaches (check out Oz Clark's excellent Grapes and Wines if in doubt), held up as a style icon alongside the other Grenache greats of Priorat(o) and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. What's more, this is from the 2005 vintage, generally considered the finest vintage in South Australia in the last 40 years. This is now £27 a bottle, down from £36 (and would be my pick of the bunch);

- Torbreck are among the Barossa Greats and The Struie 2006 is their affordable luxury, now at £22.00 ...

- ... while, from that same 2006 vintage, the Shirvington 2006 - a huge McLaren Vale Shiraz that has recently wowed customers at one of our Perth tastings - is now £20.00;

- For the budget-conscious bargain hunter, we've the Henry's Drive Shiraz 2003 from Padthaway, at a case-filling price of £13.50 (down from over £22); and

- Finally, not everybody wants age on their Shiraz (or they may choose to age it themselves). For those, our hugely-popular and Decanter World Wine Award 2017-winning Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 from Barossa remains available from us at a UK-beating £13.20.

So, we know you may be wondering: "You, Exel Wines ... reductions? Really? So... what's wrong with the wines"?

We understand that thinking: we see plenty of such firesales out in the marketplace, after all.

Well, we've left nothing to chance: where we've had any doubts as to whether any of these wines have made it safely from the Noughties to 2018, we've opened a bottle and tested it

 And very enjoyable it has been, too...


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Elderton Command Single Vineyard Shiraz 2003 (1x 75cl)

The Elderton Command Shiraz has established an enviable reputation since the first vintage in 1984. It is truly one of Australia’s best and most highly-regarded icon wines. Accolades have come from the world over for vintages such as the 1992, which was chosen by the influential wine critic Robert Parker in his U.S. magazine the Wine Advocate as one of the world’s Top 80 wines. The 1995 Command was awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator and placed in their Top 100 wines; the 2000 was awarded 97 points by the same magazine and placed 27 in their Top 100. The 1996 Command won the trophy for the best Shiraz in the world at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition.

The second generation of Ashmeads and Elderton Co-Managing Directors, Allister and Cameron, as the current custodians of a rare piece of Barossa Valley viticultural heritage, continue their parents aspirations and expectations to produce a great wine of the world. The Command is truly an expression of place, and one of which the family intends to preserve for generations to come.

The fruit was harvested by hand, with five small parcels harvested over five weeks to attain complex nuances. Fermented in open top concrete fermenters with chilled ferments, hand pump-overs and cap submerging with oak header boards for eight days; the process finished with barrel ferment and malolactic fermentation in new French & American puncheons. Aromas of blackberry fruit, aniseed and spices carry through to the palate which is rich, warm and generous.

Very dark purple with bright magenta hues. Aromas of blackberry fruit, aniseed and spices. Aromas of blackberry fruit, aniseed and spices carry through to the palate which is rich, warm and generous.

Elderton recommend that the Command Shiraz willl "cellar confidently for 15-20 years".

£46.08 £31.20

Clarendon Hills Blewitt Springs Grenache 2005 (1x 75cl)

Winemaking: Low yielding, dry grown vines planted in 1920 are hand picked and a wild yeast fermentation is cultured thereafter. Typically ferments run for a few days and all pressings are the returned to the barrel and bottled onsite without fining or filtration.

Maturation: 18 months, within a hierarchy of 1-5 year old tight-grained, first-class French oak barriques that are specially produced for Clarendon Hills. Racking occurs as required. Each barrique is individually examined repetitively to gauge the site’s expression and organic evolution.

Nose: Lifted and layered. The evolving nose reveals at first, fresh forest berries with a mixture of softly perfumed rose petal aromas, whose mixture of Turkish delight and strawberries and cream is truly attention grabbing. On decant, a vineyard-unique salty/brine character begins to nuance with subtle anise and earthy notes to create an entirely more dramatic and sophisticated expression. An entirely hedonistic perfume whose suggestion of effortless power and wealth becomes apparent with time.

Palate: Layers of playful cherry, boysenberry and red currant fruit play throughout a long, orchestral finish. The extremely fine boned, talcum like extract presents itself as it appears to ‘tap the brakes’ across the mid-palate before finishing across a long, creamy finish. Mouth-watering, bright natural acidity highlights the exquisite fruit quality whose balance of savoury, raw fruit like, character is neither sugary or jamy. Its just sweet.

Clarendon Hills state, of their current 2013 Blewitt Springs, "The remarkably concealed yet omnipresent super fine tannin will safely sustain this gorgeous 95-year-old, single-vineyard example for another decade" (ie from 2018). The 2005 vintage in McLaren Vale was incredibly strong (and its ageworthiness greater still) - see the Parker vintage guide here which rates 2005 as the best McLaren/Barossa year of the 40 listed there and 'ready to drink' - so, in 2018, this sits very well within a similar 15-year, quality drinking window.

We would make the point that this is an aged New World Grenache: its aged flavours are distinct and not for everyone, but this is a bottle very much in condition for those that appreciate aged Grenache, and, at that, one of the greats of the New World. We greatly recommend decanting and a few hours of breathing. 

£36.00 £27.00

Torbreck The Struie 2006 (1x 75cl)

See the winemaker's own technical note/fiche technique:

Torbreck The Struie 2006 - fiche technique

This wine is a blend of Shiraz from the Eden and Barossa Valleys, combining the best of both regions. 100% Shiraz, 18 months in seasoned French oak.

Sourced from several elevated sites throughout the Barossa (60+ year old vines) & Eden Valleys (40+ year old vines), the Struie reflects the cooler side of the region and showcases the subtle nuances that are gained from hillside viticulture. Possessing a dense and completely opaque hue the 2006 Struie has a wonderfully healthy sheen and great viscosity. The initial aromas of black raspberries, crème de cacao and star anise yield to a fragrant core of slow roasted meats, scorched earth and olive tapenade.

Full-bodied and tightly-structured, the palate shows phenomenal ripeness and brooding richness along with a razor-like spine of beautifully integrated acidity and mountain like tannin that will greatly reward those with the patience to cellar it. Pleasurable now but also with real depth to age further. 

£29.30 £22.00

Shirvington Estate Shiraz 2006 (1x 75cl)

This blockbuster wine was 100% barrel-fermented and oak aged for 12 months: 75% in new oak and 25% in one-year-old oak. 90% of the oak was American and 10% was French.

The 2006 vintage has an opaque red colour with a purple hue. It shows an amazingly concentrated and intense nose with blueberry and blood plum filling the headspace. These fruit notes are joined with dark chocolate, vanilla bean and golden syrup nuances. The opulent palate has a magnitude of oak-driven, sweet creamy layers, soft and supple tannins and a seamless length, full of liquorice, toasted coconut and cracked black pepper.

The Shirvington 2006 is drinking well now but will cellar for many years. Like many 'major' Shirazes/Syrahs, it has thrown a noticeable sediment and will repay careful decanting.

£25.00 £20.00

Henrys Drive Shiraz 2003 (1x75cl)

The fruit for this Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz is sourced exclusively from a single family vineyard in Padthaway.

The colour is opaque red with a purple hue. The complex nose displays an abundance of violets, rose perfumed talc and dark cocoa. Lively aromas of mint and eucalyptus fill the headspace. These aromas all evolve in the glass over time continuing to stimulate and impress. The powerful palate from the start hits with luscious sweet blackcurrant fruit, leading into the tight elegant structure which enfolds creamy and toasty layers. The long chewy tannins vie with the flavours of caramel, mocha and wood fired oven bread. This unique Shiraz is a stunning and superbly balanced wine.

The wine is barrel-fermented and matured in oak hogsheads and barriques. The breakdown is as follow - 65% American, 35% French, 80% new & 20% one-year old oak.

Exel note: This is a big New World Shiraz with 15 years on the clock. We have recently (6.3.18) tested it for quality and it remains excellent: the eucalyptus aromas and vanilla flavours are powerful, fruit flavours are still dominant and age/tertiary flavours are clear but not overbearing; in short, the tannins have preserved this wine well. It is for drinking witin the next year but is an excellent aged Shiraz, especially at the price.

£22.90 £13.50

Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 - August 2017 Decanter review

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

Shiraz 93%, Durif 4%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%. The grapes come from the Barossa Valley, in South Australia. Situated at a latitude of 34° South, the region is made up of rolling hills and valley floors. The growing season often sees hot, warm weather with temperatures of 35°C, which can result in vine stress, helping to concentrate the flavours in the berries. The wide diurnal temperature differences help to retain balancing acidity. Some of the grapes come from Berton's original vineyard in the Eden Valley, where the climate is cooler. The vine age is varied, but all vines have been spur pruned and are generally trained on a single wire cordon trellising system. The vines are planted at approximately 1.8 metres apart with 3.6 metres between the rows, to allow machinery access. The soil styles in the vineyards are varied, ranging from clay, to limestone and sandy soils, with each terroir adding its own characteristic to the final wine.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular skin submersion in order to extract the required colour and flavour from the grapes. After fermentation, the wine was pressed off into stainless steel tanks where it completed malolactic fermentation in the late autumn. The wine was then racked off into both French and American oak barrels resulting in a rich, spicy complex Shiraz. 

The Reserve Shiraz is deepest dark red with a very youthful and vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe black cherries and blackberries with hints of eucalypt and spice. The rich and full palate displays soft flavours of plum skin, mulberry and hints of vanilla and blackberry, These abundant flavours are underpinned by fine vanilla from the oak and defined by exciting spicy tannins.

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