2006 Hesketh "Usual Suspects" Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia

SKU #1046240

Shiraz can often be too big and obvious, with too much alcohol, too much oak, too much dead fruit, too much of everything. The Usual Suspects simply isn't like this. It's what McLaren Vale does best: vibrant fruit, complexity, elegance, balance and style. This is a 'thinking person's' shiraz that evolves and reveals itself as you progress through the bottle. 89 points From Stephen Tanzer's IWC: "Candied raspberry and floral scents are complemented by white pepper and dark chocolate nuances. Supple red and dark berry flavors become firmer and brighter with air without showing any rough edges. Finishes with an echo of red fruit and good, sweet persistence. "

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Price: $18.99
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Staff Image By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 12/28/2009 | Send Email
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Sure, the familiar name of this elegant Shiraz first attracted me — being an avid Indie film buff I pondered the reference to the elusive Keyser Söze, aka Kevin Spacey. Turns out it actually refers to the colorful painting on the label of the winemaker's intimate circle of friends by Hamish Macdonald. As for this Shiraz, it is anything but elusive, imbued with the viticultural philosophy expressed so well by Jonathon Hesketh: "Balance in wine is a trait that is often overlooked in the pursuit of sheer power. Power in wine is great, but not at the expense of balance. Wine should be a social lubricant that can be enjoyed with food, friends and healthy conversation. It shouldn't be something that sends you to sleep." This delicious wine is smooth, generous and elegant, with a subtle spine of acidity and dry tannins often lacking in South Australian Shiraz. Co-fermented from 96% Shiraz and 4% Viognier and matured in a combination of new and older French oak, the nuanced aromatic profile runs from blackberry and cassis to toasty oak, dark chocolate and peppery spices, all held in harmony by a seamlessly-structured palate that echoes the primary beauty of the savory fruit and complex body. At only 14.1% ABV, this is a food-friendly Shiraz to enhance many a meal, and although delicious now, will promise to bedazzle for up to a decade.

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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.


- While it is true that the greatest strides in Australian winemaking have come in the last 30 years or so, commercial viticulture began as early as the 1820s and has developed uninterrupted ever since. The majority of the great wine regions are in the southeastern area of the continent, including Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Coonawarra in South Australia; Yarra Yarra Valley and Pyrenees in Victoria; and the Upper and Lower Hunter Valleys in New South Wales. Many of the wines from Southeastern Australia are based on Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and various blends including Grenache and Mourvedre. In Western Australia, along the Margaret River, great strides are being made with Pinot Noir as well as Bordeaux-styled reds. There are also many world-class releases of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the land Down Under, where Riesling also enjoys international acclaim. While many equate Aussie wines with “value,” there are more than a few extremely rare and pricey options, which never fail to earn the highest ratings from wine publications and critics throughout the world. View a list of bestselling items from Australia.

South Australia

Specific Appellation:

McLaren Vale

Alcohol Content (%): 14.5