Mandala, Shiraz, 2018
Yarra Valley, Australia
The Smedleys, who own Mandala, call it the realization of a dream. A dream to be part of the cool climate Yarra Valley wine scene and to establish themselves as a Pinot power in the region. Well, as they say, dare to dream a little bigger. And that's what the Smedleys did, literally, as not only planting their first 10 acres of Pinot in 1999 but soon adding Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc too.
The ecology of the vineyards is exceptional. A lush vista of vines and greenery suitable to all wildlife - yes, including the kangaroos who hop through on the regular. This is unmistakably cool climate and although not on the same international level of recognition as say, a Burgundy, this is one of Australia's oldest and most celebrated wine regions, with the earliest vineyards planted in 1838.
This is a stunning Shiraz, much closer in style to Northern Rhône than to the walloping fruit bombs of Barossa and McLaren Vale. There's savoury complexity with black plum, tart boysenberry, red liquorice, white pepper, tobacco and toasty oak. The palate is full but silky with layers of caramelized figs, mocha and baking spices. Tannins are definitely noticeable but still soft and rounded with a backbone of fresh acidity to brighten and lift the finish.
Food pairing recommendations include grilled flank steak (cooked over charcoal or wood, if you have that set up) with Chimichurri; smoked spareribs (or you can use Portuguese style spareribs); hamburgers; roast leg of lamb; aged hard cheeses like Beemster, Lankaaster or Etorki - check with your favourite cheese monger for similar styles.
Bonus! A delicious review to chew over:
"Yarra meets a peripheral northern Rhone pocket. Think Crozes. Perhaps Saint Joseph. Far from prosaic, this is a delicious rendition of pulp, perfume and all that syrah/shiraz can deliver when in the right hands and in the right possie. Think violet, blueberry, nori, tapenade, a whiff of meat and a skein of peppery acidity for length, freshness and a big grin. Drink in large drafts. No point in ageing. Reduction massaged into pleasure." 95 points, Ned Goodwin - 2021 Wine Companion