Thursday, 8 December 2022

De Iuliis Steven Vineyard Shiraz 2020


From a much-maligned vintage, don't subscribe to all the bad press you read. I was on the ground in the Hunter Valley during 2020 and there are some gems out there, trust me. Much like the wet 2011 vintage, not every wine should be tarnished with that bad brush. 

For clarity, I took leave from my day job and did vintage in the Hunter Valley during 2020, before moving on to McLaren Vale and the Barossa. 

Back to the Hunter, and sure there is no denying, there were issues with smoke taint that year. I went around the valley when not on the tools and tasted a heap of wine. Some fruit was still on the vine and some was already in tank. By no means am I a smoke taint expert, but damn, I learnt a hell of a lot in that time on the ground.

What cannot be understated is that these winemakers have pride on the line and don't want to wreck their brand by putting an inferior product on the shelf - the stakes are too high. The meticulous sorting I witnessed around the valley was a testament to that. 

Those who have been to the Hunter would know many of the great red-soiled vineyards hug the Brokenback Range. Most of the wineries that own these vineyards did not release their single vineyard wines that year as the smoke just sat at the base and wouldn't clear. A hard decision to make but one which also deserves respect.

This De Iuliis Steven Vineyard is removed from the range. The fruit was tested time and again for smoke taint with the AWRI. With the green light given when the fruit was on the vine, in the winery and in barrel, there is no taint here.

I was there at 4:50am, no less, the morning the Shiraz fruit for this wine was picked at the Steven vineyard - what a glorious morning that was.  

Wonderfully medium bodied as Hunter Valley Shiraz can be, it skips about with joyous abandon. Red plums, red berries and a red apple acidity, the earthiness tucks in behind. The acid needs to calm but the soft length just hangs. Over a couple of days of tasting, it showed where it was headed. Hold for another two years and it will be singing.

Drink to ten years+


Region: Hunter Valley
RRP: $50
Source: Sample

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