2002 Clarendon Hills "Piggott Range" Syrah (Previously $100)

SKU #1035911 97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Absolutely fabulous, but extremely backward, the saturated black/purple-colored 2002 Syrah Piggott Range reveals that minerality/crushed rock characteristic in the nose along with notes of roasted meats, blackberry and blueberry liqueur, truffles, spice, and espresso. This dense, fabulously endowed Syrah inundates the palate with layers of creme de cassis, loads of glycerin, and unbelievable definition as well as focus. Four to five years of cellaring is recommended as this is a wine for patient connoisseurs. It should easily age for two decades. The distinctive roasted character of the Piggott Range Syrahs is noteworthy since this vineyard is a natural amphitheater planted with 35- to 40-year-old Syrah vines. (RP)  (10/2004)

94 points Wine Spectator

 Don't let the big price fool you; this is no heavy monster. It's dark and juicy, its solid core of blackberry and dark plum flavors poised against a lively edge of acidity and fine tannins, lingering impressively on an immensely refined finish. Needs time.  (5/2004)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Dark, bright ruby. Tightly wound aromas of crushed black raspberry, blueberry, cherry, pepper and licorice. Superconcentrated, dense and primary, with the blueberry and black raspberry flavors currently dominated by the wine's strong acidity and powerful tannic spine. But this boasts terrific strength of fruit and length, and should be glorious with two or three years of additional bottle aging. (ST)  (7/2004)

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- 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.
Country:

Australia

- 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.