It’s been nine years since I tasted an Aberfeldy shiraz from Tim Adams in the Clare Valley. I was strongly partial to their 2009 and 2010 vintages. You can read reviews of these vintages below. Since then, the price of the “Aberfeldy” has marched northwards, but not as much as some pointy end wines.
I wasn’t much persuaded by the 2018 vintage reviewed here. Perhaps my tastes too have evolved in this period. This can be a subtle foil to avoid saying negative things about something that has fallen short. However, in this case, the wine is is actually in a fuller bodied, higher alcohol (14.5), oaked style that I drink less of, although there remain many great and enjoyable examples of these styles.
Perhaps then it is a function of vintage, as it should be, if wine is to rise above product, itself an arguable proposition. Langtons, the Australian auction house with a table of vintage ratings, gave the vintage a “10”. Their description of the vintage provided something of a counter point, mentioning a “hot summer”, “drought”, less than 50% average rainfall and a cool autumn. It became apparent that we may not have the same definition of “10”.
Warm and dry characters are consistent with this wine, which I found disjointed and drying on the palate, but because of the oak more so than the fruit. However, it is not the case therefore that this is a wine of no interest. The wine’s aroma in fact was sublime. There was evident oak, together with expressions of roast meats, warm bricks, plums and spice. At some angles, it resembled an Hermitage, and not a modest one. However, its warm fruited joyous aroma overwhelmed the more savoury characters and speaks in the end of Australian shiraz, were that comparative asked for.
“Crushed ants” also came to mind, a mostly indecipherable and therefore somewhat usless expression, but one that can capture in my mind the unique spicey, plummy and brick combination that better examples of warm climate South Australian shiraz (and in particular Grange) sometimes feature. As foreshadowed, the palate proved troublesome, with its character of plums pleasant, but its acidity seemed a little too high and dusty oak and oak tannins upset the harmony on the finish. Its balance therefore appeared adrift. This wine is ready to drink, but it may yet integrate and improve. Rating: Good (★★★☆, 89 points). Website: Tim Adams Clare Valley. Tasted: September 2023.