Friday, March 16, 2012

Dandelion vineyards "Lionheart of the Barossa" Shiraz

Last January I happened to be in Edmonton, Alberta to celebrate a family function; there was food, there were long talks and, of course, there was wine. For all that my family may be Irish, we drink wine as if we were Italian.

   So it was a real treat when my father took me for a drive because he said he knew a "very special" wine-shop. I told him that the shop in question would have alot to stand up against as I have virtually grown-up (as a wine-steward) in the semi-mystical which is a pantheon of oenology in Vancouver, BC. I was not disappointed.

   The store in question had certified sommeliers on-hand to lead me through a list of wines I had rarely seen... for those of you not in Canada we here are in the Dark Ages: we have different liquor boards for each province and shipping between provinces prohibitive. And so the wines my father sees are rarely the ones I see and the two of us almost never see wines that make it to Ontario or Quebec. But I digress.

   One of the sommeliers pointed out the Dandelion vineyards ( and stated that categorically it was one of the finest Shiraz he had in stock. At almost $40 CAD it was worth about $60-$70 in my own province and I was - reluctant. In the end, I trusted my father and bought the bottle. A 2008 "Lionheart of the Barossa"... something worth cellaring for years upon years I imagined.

   A few days ago I was becoming despondent with lacklustre syrahs and saw the old Lionheart on a shelf and thought: "Stelvin enclosure; it must be made to drink young. Meh, how bad could it be?"

   I've managed to lose my aerator somewhere, and because of the Stelvin enclosure (screwtop) I decided against decanting. I opened the bottle, poured out a few ounces and lifted to my nose. That was when the magic began for me.

Dandelion Vineyards, Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz
$35 CAD in Alberta, not available in BC
95 points James Halliday
94-95 points AStudentOfWine

vine age:   old vines, many over 100 years
altitude:   725 feet (220 metres)
fermentation:   25% new French oak
maturation:   18 months, then racking without fining or filtration
winemaker:   Elena Brooks, Bsc
  • visual:    clear; fully intense inky-purple core with slightest cherry rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+intense and developing bouquet of red currants, black raspberries, developing secondary notes of old worn leather and cedar, dried savory herbs and light earthen background
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ to fully intense (red currant/sour cherry acids), moderate+ (silky yet grippy) tannins, moderate body, moderate ABV (14.5%), moderate+ to fully intense youthful flavors of sour cherries, young raspberries, small strawberries and blueberries, light notes of savory herbs/light summer florals, soft background of warm earth. Stunning balance and structure, long length
  • conclusion:   a rarity; a wine that drinks so brilliantly whilst young and yet could cellar well for half a dozen years with ease. Peaks 2017-2020
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:   because of the vibrant acids of course I'm going to suggest a little fat, but not as much as I normally would... the acids are so delicately integrated that I'm going with grilled rack of lamb with caramelized onion and blueberry compote on Manitoba wild rice latkes with steamed Swiss chard.

  This was an experience for me.

Barossa vines, 100++ years
   This wine drinks with the vibrancy of a Melbourne Shiraz, the lively acidity of McLaren Vale, the freshness of the Langhorne and the warm suppleness of Barossa. It is quite simply one of the finest examples of Shiraz that I've ever had and would love to sample it at 6 or 9 years old, when I imagine it will have grown into the mature grace of a Rosemount Balmoral (which is the finest kind of compliment).

   For all of my credible research skills, Dandelions vineyards in still an enigma to me. Established in 2009, Dandelion Vineyards Pty Ltd is a private company categorized under Crop Planting and Protection and located in Port Willunga, SA, Australia. That's what the records state, but the first vintage of The Lionheart is 2008...

winemaker Elena
 No matter, it seems as though a Canadian businessman/vigneron and an Australian patriarch/vigneron sought the fresh ideas of a young Adelaide graduate and created Dandelion. They only source from family estates, and the quality is self-explanatory. Not convinced?

   James Halliday may know more about Australian wines then anyone else on the planet. Period. I thought this was at least a 92-point wine after 10 seconds in my glass. Without an aerator. James Halliday agreed and gave 95 points.

   I give this, at 4 years old, 94 points and feel it can easily grow into 95 or even 96 points. It's smooth, sophisticated and layered beyond belief for the price. If you're in Alberta or Ontario, spend the money and discover new winemaking with Old-World sensibility.

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment