Friday, February 4, 2022

Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999

Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999

We ordered a carry out pizza from Angeli's Italian, our favorite neighborhood trattoria. I opened from our cellar this aged vintage Aussie Shiraz for a full throttle big red.

This is one of our favorite Australian wines from this era, one that we collected going back to the 1992 vintage. We held a decade of vintages of this label including every vintage during the nineties. Over the years, we discovered and collected more Australian Shiraz' from other producers but this was one of our benchmarks. 

This 1999 vintage was one of our favorites from those early years and is one of the few remaining bottles. In those days, these were bottled in six packs which is how we bought them so we invariably had six bottles per vintage (or more).

Rosemount Estate began producing high-quality wines from its founding in 1974. Rosemount’s 1980 Show Reserve Chardonnay won a rare Double Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London, England, establishing the company’s reputation for quality in Australia and overseas.

Rosemount purchased the 100-year-old Ryecroft winery and vineyards in 1991 and developed other vineyards in the South Central Australia McLaren Vale region, and they source fruit from these vineyards to this day.

The McLaren Vale wine region lies 40 kilometres south Adelaide, the South Australian capital. Built around the coast of the Great Australian Bight, the region has a Mediterranean feel, with its seaside location.

McLaren Vale is a diverse region boasting a mix of sub-regions with different characteristics each best-suited for different varietals, depending on their geology, soils, elevation, rainfall and distance from the sea. Over 18000 acres of the region are covered in vineyards. While 51% of the McLaren Vale vines are Shiraz, the region is also home to many other varieties including Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet, and lesser known varieties such as Grenache, Mouvèdre (Mataro), Fiano and Vermentino.  

With this 1999 vintage, Rosemount Estate was awarded Winery of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. In 2000, Rosemount Estate was awarded Winemaker of the Year and Best Australian Producer at the IWSC in London and Best Australian Producer at the International Wine Challenge (IWC), and in 2011 were awarded New World Winery of the Year from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Rosemount Estate’s Balmoral Syrah is a flagship label, sitting at the top of the Rosemount Estate family tree, achieving international recognition, winning both a Trophy and a Gold medal at the coveted Decanter World Wine Awards in 2011 and again in 2012 and regularly receiving 90+ points in the notable US Wine Spectator across multiple Balmoral vintages.

Balmoral is predominantly sourced from the McLaren Vale sub-region of Seaview, in the northwest corner of the region, northwest of the town center sitting above the McLaren Vale township at roughly 110 metres above sea level. The soils range from quite sandy to red clays with quite a bit of surface iron stone.
The Balmoral label is produced from premium parcels from carefully selected vineyard blocks (ranging from 50 to 100 years old) that produce tiny quantities of exceptional fruit that typically delivers intense depth of flavour, superb length and fine acidity with a soft, velvety tannin structure. 
Rosemount Estate Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999

This release was #37 of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2002 with a rating of 93 points. It was awarded 92 points by Wine Enthusiast, and 90 points from Wine and Spirits and Jeremy Oliver.

The Winemaker Notes for this release cited: "A classic, collectable Syrah - one of the best red wines to make it over here from Australia. Made from grapes grown on 50-100 year old vineyards, this McLaren Vale classic is matured nearly two years in new American oak prior to bottling. The richly textured fruit and deep, velvety tannins interweave beautifully into a long, harmonious finish. 15 years plus cellaring potential." 

This certainly held up for the prescribed fifteen years. Here at 22 years it is holding its own, showing well, but starting to show diminution from aging. The fill level, label and most importantly the cork were all in ideal condition, considering their age. 

I started to remove the cork with a traditional corkscrew and it was a bit soft and threatened to come apart. Switching to the ahso two pronged cork puller it extracted intact. 

The color was garnet colored with some brown bricking starting to set in, medium-full bodied, the full blackberry and black currant fruits are starting to give way to the non-fruit notes of tobacco, spice box, hints of pepper, anise and black olive with tangy acidity on the lingering finish. 

RM 88 points.

My first published review of this label was back in Aug, 19, 2003 - Rosemount Estate Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999, RM 92, WS 93 SS $53, Huge forward long mouth full of currant, plum, blackberry and anise. Bigger and more robust than other recent years. Try it and see why this is one of my perennial favorites - even better this year! 
I published follow on reviews: Rosemount Estates Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999 - Aug, 19, 2003, Nov 23, 2002, and my most recent previous review, September 17, 2016.
My previous review for this wine: This vineyard is one of the few in Australia with vines dating back a hundred years. The concentrated fruit is akin to the Chateau Tanunda with its legendary 100 year old vines. The story of  we Pour Boys discovering and then capturing the US allocation of this wine is written often in these pages. 

Dark inky purple garnet colored, medium-full bodied, forward  currant, plum, blackberry fruits turning to blueberry on the mid-palate, accented by a layer of anise, raisin and fig with hints of clove and spice.

RM 92 points. 
Fellow Cellartrackers' reviews for this label: 

12/11/2020 - bdhanna Likes this wine: 89 Points  "Just past peak. A near perfect cork after two decades in the bottle. Consumed over two days. Popped and poured this wine, it opened up quickly. On day two the fruit was still fresh, this wine had softened to reveal increased depth and integrated complexity.

Dark burgundy color with little to no oxidation and clarity was medium. Aromas of bing cherry and raspberry. Flavors of black cherry cola, black pepper, raspberry framboise, leather, and a little funk. This Syrah has a medium finish. This is my last bottle of this vintage. Always a great fruit source and a good winemaking effort."

12/31/2018 - corkus Likes this wine: 94 Points "Purple brownish color. Mint, pepper, musk and brambles on the nose. Palette of pepper, blackberry, black cherry with mint overtones and a creamy light tannic finish. Still quite a long finish with a good acid spine. The fruit is not as prominent as it was and I think it's starting to get close to the end of it's drinking window, Hint: Be careful of the cork, it's starting to crumble!"

9/12/2015 - Bsmith457 Likes this wine: 95 Points "Very dark almost black colour. On second night, aromas primarily of oak and leather. Black berry, pepper and a sweet cherry flavour. Surprisingly fresh still. Tannins have not taken over at all and the fresh fruit is still evident. Still looks like it has few years in it."

6/18/2020 - Bsmith457 Likes this wine: 93 Points "Dark dirty crimson. Dry spice, rotted wood. Sweet plum, strawberry, black cherry, coffee beans. Full body, tannin is remarkably fine. Acidity is a bit low. Some signs of oxidation when first opened, the cork broke apart but could be recovered. Recovers very well, impressive wine for its age. I was worried it would be flat but still has good flavours, even if a bit dull. It’s my last bottle, but if I had more I would be happy to open them."