Being a wine writer brings its high points and it low points and a tasting like a vertical of Grant Burge Meshach, a premium Barossa Valley Shiraz, is definitely one of the highs. Anyone who know Barossa Shiraz knows that this is one of the best the Valley produces and the price reflects that. The current vintage sells in New Zealand for about $130 a bottle. Kiwi wine drinkers have held Meshach in high esteem ever since it first made an appearance here with the 1996 vintage. It has all the approachability of its little brother Filsell, but with heaps more brawn and longevity potential.
Meshach is a rich wine made from old vine grapes harvested from the Filsell vineyard. It is matured in American oak hogsheads for 2 years before being bottled to further develop and integrate for another 18 months to 2 years before release. This tasting of the 1992 to 1999 vintage, excluding 1997 as none was made, showed that the luxurious flavours the wine can develop are more than its youthful opulence promises.
The wines were poured and sitting on the table when I took my seat. The scent of American oak and winey red berries emanated around the room. With the glasses lined up beside on another it was interesting to see the colour gradation, the older two wines starting to pale with tawny hues influencing the colour. But from 1994 to the baby 1999 the wines showed deep dark red, the younger the wine the more purple and crimson the hues, the contrast between the 93 and the 94 quite amazing.
We tasted the wines from oldest to youngest and after tasting there would have been no doubt that the boisterous flavours of youth would have overpowered the older two wines.
1992 Grant Burge Meshach
From a cool dry summer with rain at the beginning of vintage, the fruit was left on the vine until quite late.
Still red but with paling rims and tawny hues starting to appear, it has a developed cedary aroma with sweetish liquorice notes, later emitting prune and macerated cherry. Oak is still fairly forward in palate with cedar and mellow fruit tending towards peach, plum and other stonefruits, nuts, leather and a touch of mocha with a delicately spicy and slightly anise finish and lingering milk chocolate. There are firm tannins in this big rich wine that is still building towards its peak. However, it's full of harmony and certainly drinking beautifully now.
Gold in the 1996 Royal Sydney Wine Show.
1993 Grant Burge Meshach
From the wettest season for more than 50 years, this wine looks similar to the 1992 beside it. This is a lovely integrated and developed old wine with an old cedar aroma and the scent of violet intertwined with liquorice, purple fruits and just a tad of leather - I like the promise of the aromas and I could smell it for ages. There is lots of liquorice flavour in the palate where the tannins are mellow, soft and beautifully integrated. There's a touch of cherry and lifted notes of cherry on the finish where liquorice lingers. The texture is ever so slightly grainy. A lovely, harmonious 'old' wine that is at its peak and should be drunk soon to reap the utmost enjoyment before it starts it downhill slide.
1994 Grant Burge Meshach
A vivid contrast in colour to the 1993, being deep garnet red and looking quite youthful for its 9 years. From a long, mild, dry, vintage this shows its richness and youthful attributes, emitting a rich, opulent aroma of rich creamy fruit, integrated oak, strong mocha, anise and herbs de Provence. Flavours of mocha, prune, currants, spice, rose pepper, dark chocolate and cedary oak are beautifully integrated with a savoury almost herbal twist to the dry long finish. Tannins are still very firm and pronounce the dry finish that lingers with sweet fruit and just the slightest hint of mint. A wine that's still developing and has years ahead of it - it seems almost too young to drink.
Trophy at the 1997 Barossa Wine Show and gold medals from Barossa, Brisbane and an International Wine Show.
1995 Grant Burge Meshach
Deep red and youthful in appearance. Very dark scents of mocha tending almost to beef tea and lots of cedar. It's rich and spicy with a vanillin oak influence underlying currants, prunes, plums, cherry, mocha and nutty chocolatey oak. Plenty of spices too - from fruitcake spices through to nutmeg, anise and pepper. Very dark, rich, long and succulent savoury and slightly salty finish. Tannins are more obvious in this hugely concentrated wine that is still developing but shows some developed anise, liquorice and integrated oak characters. It has weight, richness and depth. Although it is still developing, it is more 'ready' that the 1994 right now.
1996 Grant Burge Meshach
Inky red with purple hues. A lovely sweet-fruited wine, the fruit so integrated to the spicy vanillin oak. Youthful! It's a powerful, concentrated wine with lots of tannins, spice and opulence plus. There's noticeable Barossa mint in this wine with plenty of cedar and so much spice it is almost zesty. Rose pepper, dark fruitcake spices, mocha, chocolate and leather - just everything that's working together towards a peppery savoury finish. So terrifically balanced in all its components it's truly enjoyable to drink now but no-one will argue that there is heaps of life ahead of this wine that has everything that you expect Barossa Shiraz to have. With this being the debut vintage for most Kiwi drinkers, no wonder we loved it so much.
1998 Grant Burge Meshach
A deep, inky blackcurrant red with purple-pink rims, this is rich, dark and sensuous with creamy vanillin and liquid chocolate scents, still tightly bound in its dark chocolatey oak, opulent spices and masses and masses of purple fruit. There's mocha, liquorice, anise and a solid backbone of deliciously rich ripe fruit from cherry through to blackberry and even hints of cassis. Beautifully supple approachable tannins. This wine is not like the others, it seems riper and sweeter and so full of everything but so beautifully integrated you could drink it now - if you had to - or safely cellar for many years.
1999 Grant Burge Meshach
Deep, inky blackcurrant red with purple-pink rims, not giving away much on the nose, it smells leathery if anything. The tannins are rich and solid - they are certainly there but they are integrated for the wine's age. Amazing rich concentration of fruit, violets, purple fruit bursts, mocha, crushed black pepper (more obvious than in the others), dark chocolate, nutmeg and nutty oak, the oak builds the palate with its power and complexity but doesn't dominate. Sweet fruits, anise, spice and vanillin oak linger. It's beautifully textured, silky, seamless and harmonious but so youthful in all its components it is really nowhere ready to drink yet. Cellar to get the most enjoyment.
Grant Burge says "Probably the best balanced wine I've made to date. It just fell into place". The show judges agree - it already been awarded 6 trophies from shows at Hobart, Perth and Melbourne, when tasted.
My wine of the tasting was the sensational 1994.
Grant Burge named this wine in honour of his great grandfather, Meshach William Burge, one of the first to plant grapes in the Lyndoch area are of the Barossa. You can find out more about the history from the Grant Burge website - www.grantburgewines.com.au.
Copyright Sue Courtney