A trio of bruisers: Occam’s Razor Shiraz 2013, Izway Harold Shiraz 2012 and Clos de Jacobins Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

It is fashionable to dismiss table wines that are at or exceed 15% alcohol.  I’ll be honest, I can sometimes suffer from the same prejudice when choosing wines.  But is this fair?  Probably not – I find actually tasting the wine the only reliable indicator of quality and balance.  Some varieties produce higher alcohol wines than others, as do some regions and indeed if terroir is truly important, some vintages.  Personal preferences are a factor too.  To that end, let me know your thoughts.  Here are three heavier weight wines that I recently put to the test.  

Occam’s Razor Heathcote Shiraz 2013

Occam’s Razor is produced at the highly regarded and on trend Jasper Hill in Heathcote.  Accordingly, it is a slightly unexpected candidate for the heavy weight ethanol division, although Heathcote is generally not a source of shy and retiring shiraz.  Weighing in at 15% abv, the 2013 shiraz has aromatics of plums and currants.  The palate has similar flavours, and hides its weight well achieving a finely tuned balance.  A good release. Good

Abv: 15%, Price: $40s, Website and vendors: http://jasperhill.com.au, Tasted: 2015 

Izway Harold Eden Valley Shiraz 2012

This wine is a story of two impressions.  On first impressions, I didn’t like it much.  Its aromatics reminded of currant and spirit, while the palate had impressions of cooked plums, and a hot spirity finish almost like I’d unexpectedly eaten chilli seeds on bread.  Tasted the next day, it was substantially better.  Christmas cake and high toned spices had replaced the earlier jumpy aromatics, while the palate seemed to have achieved a balance, with pure fruit evident and good length on the finish.  A little hard to rate, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt.  What is certain is that this wine will benefit from decanting, and probably 5 years in the cellar to settle.  Good

Abv: 15.3%, Price: $50s, Website and vendors: http://www.izway.com.au, Tasted: 2015

Clos de Jacobins Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

This wine surprised me.  A Saint-Émilion weighing in at 15.5%!  Yet despite the figure, it held its generous alcohol level without incident, although perhaps in the manner of a waiter treading very carefully with an overfull wine glass.  The wine itself is a blend of 80% merlot, 18% cabernet franc and 2% cabernet sauvignon.  Its aromatics are quite muted, reminding principally of cigar boxes.  The palate is savoury, with cedar and blackcurrant characters most prevalent.  The tannins are fine grained, the length quite good and there’s some fleshiness too, but overall I found the wine quite closed.  Good, but could be better for the price.  Good

Abv: 15.5%, Price: $60s, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com, Tasted: 2015

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