Salomon Estate The Verve 2018
Fleurieu Peninsula, SA ($30)
From the South Australian estate of renowned Austrian winemaker Bert Salomon, who at home is a master of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner from the Krems district beside the River Danube upstream of Vienna. Here, however, the focus is on the kind of red wine he and his wife Gertrud love to drink, rich and vibrantly ripe via the largesse of Australian summers, yet elegant with a nod to their European references. To deliver that dream he chose a glorious vineyard site beside the Finniss River as it heads towards Lake Alexandrina and the lower Murray River, with cooling breezes off the Southern Ocean to temper growing and ripening seasons for a range of traditional varieties.
The Verve is very much a wine of modernity within the Salomon stable. Here the makeup is a 55/45 mix of Shiraz and Mataro, crafted with minimal sulphur input as its core mantra. Fermented traditionally, kept on skins for 45 days, then in older oak for a year, natural tannins protect the wine before a last little safety net of preservative is added before bottling. The result sits into a southern Rhone-ish spectrum of subtle bush rose-like floral aromatics, echoing in the palate as well, supported by an earthiness and energy that holds the wine in the mouth with a deftly balanced weight and texture. Most appealing.
Salomon Estate The Verve 2019
Fleurieu Peninsula SA ($30)
The 2019 vintage of The Verve follows the same winemaking methodology as the 2018, while the varietal makeup is a total shift, this time with 85% Mataro/Mourvèdre, 10% Shiraz, and a 5% drop of Touriga resulting in an evolution in wine style that moves confidently towards a more medium-bodied red expression. Mourvèdre’s noted earth and gamey spice steps to the forefront though a pretty, native bush floral suggestion remains, which announces perhaps a single-vineyard terroir character also evident in its 2018 predecessor despite its varietal percentage differences. In the mouth the flavour/textural matrix is well toned, finishing with a delicate palate-teasing bitters feel, providing us with a genuinely delicious drink.
Salomon Estate Norwood Shiraz Cabernet 2018
Adelaide Zone ($26)
The inner-eastern Adelaide suburb’s Norwood naming of this wine harks back to a surprising family history from the 19th century, another of the drawcards that connects Austrian winemaker Berthold Salomon to South Australia. While the regional reference is a bit vague here, this wine does come from his Finniss River vineyard and taps into the Great Australian Red genre with ease. It’s a 90/10 shiraz led-blend that celebrates its minor cabernet sauvignon partner’s black currant notes as well as the familiar opulence of deliciously ripe shiraz, happily all in a crimson fruit spectrum with a touch of peppery spice to excite the palate aromatics. While the backbone here is quite full, the weighting sits well within expectations. Everything works a treat.
Salomon Estate Norwood Heritage Red 2020
Fleurieu Peninsula ($26)
This latest release takes a change in the naming of this Norwood iteration to be now labelled as “Heritage Red” in celebration of its classic blend, in this vintage 85% Shiraz and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The slight lift in cabernet inclusion makes quite an aromatic impact to the nose and palate, with flavours and tannin feel also coming to the party. (This may also have been a vintage effect as well). The wine is full bodied, dark, moody and very handsome. And a keeper – put some in the cellar for 5-10 years.
Salomon Estate Syrah-V. Wildflower 2019
Fleurieu Peninsula ($32)
Firstly, note the use of “Syrah” here rather than the usual Aussie Shiraz, the former referencing the more internationally renowned red wine style of the northern Rhone Valley. An addition of 6% estate-grown Viognier – the V. in the title – gives this wine a totally different perspective, its aromatics earthy to bush floral, the palate very much set towards a juicy feel, a suggestion of stone fruits and often apricot. While that can be a bit of a stereotype for Viognier, it’s certainly the case here, as is the style’s distinctive sticky, lightly lip-smacked tannin profile. In other words, this doesn’t drink like a typical Aussie shiraz, and for that it’s a quirky yet pleasing success.
Salomon Estate Syrah-V. Wildflower 2020
Fleurieu Peninsula ($32) – Not available until later in 2022
In this vintage the percentages are notched at 92.5% Syrah and 7.5% Viognier, offering garden and floral notes with suggestions of tarragon and fennel. Vintage impacts propel the Syrah/Shiraz towards a darker and more complex expression of the grape, though not in terms of bodyweight. While it’s generously proportioned with palate drive and power, the overall shape of the wine is delightfully sensuous, the tannins ethereal. A most satisfying southern hemisphere reflection of a classic French style.
Salomon Estate Finniss River Braeside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Fleurieu Peninsula ($36)
The Cabernet from this vineyard displays clear vintage and style variations across this, and its follow up 2019, release. This is a darker and deeper style in its initial approach, deliciously purple to black fruits on show, with buffed bodyweight. Old school if you like, rich and powerful, chewy in textural terms, and with all that comes a solid structure and palate persistence. Yet, pleasingly, the wine doesn’t feel heavy or overbearing. Let’s call that full-bodied balance and poise.
Salomon Estate Finniss River Braeside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Fleurieu Peninsula ($36)
The vintage-distinctive tone of this wine become very clear in the context set by its previous 2018 outing. Straight out of the blocks this exudes fabulous Cabernet purity: crushed red to purple berries in all their beauty. Aided by the barest of oak influence, just a faint chalk dust note, the fruit offers tannins that are almost sticky and tangy, helping to fill the mouth up to a medium bodied feel at most, allowing sweet berry fruit flavours to take a lead role, singing and reverberating with joyous clarity.
Salomon Estate Finniss River Sea Eagle Vineyard Shiraz 2018
Fleurieu Peninsula ($40)
The Shiraz from this vineyard shows, over several years, such a consistent quality that vintage expression takes on more intrigue than often is the case. That and perhaps in the follow-up 2019 we see a tweaking of contemporary winemaking style that prompts the suggestion to buy both available vintages and explore the journey. The 2018 reveals a bigger, richer, darker variation and a lick of oak, the fruit notes towards blacker berries, the palate power up there and with a deal of grip. The style will please those seeking out more voluminous Shiraz.
Salomon Estate Finniss River Sea Eagle Vineyard Shiraz 2019
Fleurieu Peninsula ($40)
The Shiraz from this vineyard shows, over several years, such a consistent quality that vintage expression takes on more intrigue than often is the case. That, and perhaps in this 2019 we see a tweaking of a contemporary winemaking style that prompts the suggestion to buy both available vintages, this and the 2018, and explore the journey. Focusing on the 2019: fruit and spice, all the best of Shiraz elements, rise immediately to the forefront here, with a layer of earthiness and minerality to add terroir complexity. Taste the crush of satsuma plums with a sprinkle of baking spices, then note the subtle ingress of gastronomic bitters on the palate, entwined with soft to mid-weight tannin textures. The wine has an engaging energy that comes from all these deftly balanced flavours, textures and structure. Smashing Shiraz drinking in anybody’s terms.