2010 Chapoutier - Laughton "Cluster M45" (La Pleiade) Shiraz Heathcote Victoria (Pre-Arrival)

SKU #1143035 95-96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Lisa Perotti-Brown 95 points: Deep garnet-purple, Cluster M45's 2010 Shiraz presents intense blueberry, blackberry and baking spice aromas over notes of mocha, tree bark and black pepper. Full-bodied, rich and densely packed in the mouth, the generous flesh is well-supported by balanced, medium to high acidity and a medium level of velvety tannins, finishing long. It's tempting to drink now though it should drink best 2014-2024+. Robert Parker 96 points: These Chapoutier wines are sometimes reviewed by my colleagues David Schildknect in his Languedoc-Roussillon report and Lisa Perrotti-Brown in her reviews of Australian wines, so I will just list the wines, my score, and the region from which they emerge. They are of very high quality and deserve readers' attention. Hopefully my prose has convinced more than a handful of readers to try these remarkable wines from one of the most fascinating and compelling personalities in the entire wine world, and one dedicated to the highest quality.This Chapoutier and Laughton (Jasper Hill) collaboration wine is known as Cluster M45 in the US market and La Pleiade in the rest of the world.

95 points James Halliday

 "There is a complex array of spicy red and black fruits in a web of fine but persistent tannins, plus French oak on a palate notable more for its length than its weight."

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Inky purple. A heady bouquet displays scents of candied dark berries, cherry-vanilla and incense, along with a smoky topnote. Lush and creamy in texture, offering palate-staining blackberry and cherry compote flavors and a hint of olive. Soft tannins build on the clinging finish, which leaves notes of blue fruits and licorice behind.

K&L Notes

In spring 1998, Michel Chapoutier and Ron Laughton planted new vineyards on the Cambrian soils of Heathcote in Central Victoria. Both were excited about the use of original Syrah cuttings taken from the hillside of Tain l'Hermitage in the Northern Rhone. The source vineyard in Hermitage was one of the few that survived phylloxera in the early 1900’s, making the donor vines 80-100 years old. Quarantined in Australia and then propagated without the use of rootstock, the vines were planted alongside Australian Shiraz Vines to produce a best of both worlds vineyard named La Pleiade (Play-ahd) after the star cluster visible from Australia and France to celebrate our global friendship in wine. The best fruit from this unique vineyard is chosen for quality more than quantity, there are only about 500 cases made of this brilliant cuvee. The vineyard is farmed Biodynamically.

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Price: $69.99
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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.