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Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Syrah 2019 - 95pts, TWF

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“So purple. Boysenberry, black pepper, Honey Jumble biscuits, violets, almond. Medium-bodied but so tightly packed, shale-like tannin, cool acidity, spicy and meaty flavour with the softness of biscotti and brightness of bramble fruit. Ultra-fine but dense tannin pushes out the finish. Beautiful expression of Shiraz. Sotto voce, yet so articulate.” 

95 points, Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

The 2019 Syrah comes from the high-grown Tibooburra vineyard, situated in the south-eastern corner of the valley near Gembrook. The site, which might be the coolest in the Yarra, is expertly managed by Greg Kerr (who planted the vineyard in 2001). Furthermore, the quality of the clonal material in Tibooburra supplies Lambert with a deeper, darker and more structured Syrah than we typically see in the Yarra. This is what drew Lambert to the site, and is a strong reason this Syrah has become a touchstone example of cool-climate Australian Shiraz.

In the winery, there has been a slight change to the Syrah’s whole-bunch and maceration regime. Luke has edged towards higher levels of whole-cluster (90%) with more crushed berries, shorter macerations and more punch-down. This method, he says, gives his Syrah more drive and structure without overt greenness or any sacrifice of the purple flowers and spice motifs that are a feature of Tibooburra. Otherwise the handling was pretty similar to previous vintages, with wild ferment and ageing in neutral oak (10-year-old 5,000 litre). The wine was left unsulphured until just prior to bottling (with no fining or filtration). Lambert describes 2019 as, “A warmer, dryer year with more fruit power” but again, the benefits of the cooler site are evident, providing a similar weight to the wine from a top producer of the Northern Rhône. It is incredibly fine and juicy, with vibrant dark cherry, violet and anise fruit as well as loads of other spices. It’s medium-bodied with plenty of very fine, powdery tannins and terrific length. Another instalment of what is clearly now one of the great examples of Australian Syrah.