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Durif… A hybridised variety, named after the gentleman who founded this cross pollination of Syrah (Shiraz) and Peloursin. I know about Shiraz so Peloursin must be some damned dark black grape with a super thick skin and it’s own theme song. Also known by the pseudonym of Petite Sirah. If you want to know more about hybrids, see my previous article “What’s in a Name? Mules of the Wine World.

Most Durif’s are  intense to say the least. Most widespreadly planted in Victoria and most revered from Rutherglen, Durif is one of the few varietals that absolutely benefits from 10 Years  + cellaring in Australia. Say what you like about Australian red wine, but Australia is hot. (Duh.) Heat ripens fruit, ripe fruit is full of sugar. Sugar converts to alcohol when a yeast gets involved. And in Australia we have no problem ripening unless we have a freak hail storm and leaves get damaged. So – quite often, because of the riper fruit and in-turn softer tannins/ less acidity, our red wines are generally more approachable at a younger age – with Durif being an exception.

Petersons Wines have been producing a Mudgee grown Durif since the early 2000′s. Don’t think Rutherglen – Glass of Cherries here. Whilst these characters are underlying, the “Mudgee Mud” seeps through nicely – often lending to an earthier and interestingly intense style. I love Mudgee for reds and for many years, Mudgee has been underrated.

Looking at the colour, its dark and brooding. The wine sticks to the glass with these sexy long legs that look like they go on forever. Even though it is 2005 Vintage the colour still displays a hint of youth with this purple tint amongst the black. In the light, it shines luminous ruby. Gary Reed’s reds are always dark,  full fruit flavoured, lovely textured and carry a signature of cedary oak. This is no exception.

On first approach, the palate is rich and grippy. I am loving the saturated berry/ plummy fruits that coat the palate. There is a spiciness seeping through on the palate, and black pepper on the nose. The texture is of chalky tannins dancing with American Oak. The bouquet is vibrant with Black Cherries (fresh and tinned!) and Black Forest crumble. The biscuity feel is definately there -  and the whole wine is reminicient of Cherry Ripe: cherries, dark chocolate and sweet coconut.

What to eat it with? Well the peppery value means any kind of beef would definately work, but there is enough tannin alongside intense flavoured fruit that it could cut through the fattiness of lamb. Durif also works tremendously with Vintage Cheddar or strong flavoured cheeses.

This is the kind of big red that rules out brushing the teeth, I can feel the red wine tattoo coming on! Let it set for 2 hours before brushing! But even my hubby thinks that this Durif is worth fuzzy teeth for one night!!

14.5% al/vol, Cork seal. Cellar door and online sales. $26 per bottle.

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A darker maroon coloured wine, which is showing some maturation with rosewood reflections. Rich and almost jammy, the palate displays stewed fruits including plums and rhubarb. Blackcurrants mingle with spice and its all a bit like Christmas mince pies. Tannins have lightly settled with bottle maturation and even for me – careful cellaring.  Although I daresay it should go down longer. But what can I say? I like the kick in the teeth of a younger wine.

On the nose – layers of oak reminiscent of pencil shavings and sawdust. These mingle with spicy savoury herbaceous expressions a bit like green capsicum. The last whiff comes across with more oxygenation and this time its sweet. I want to say plums, but really it reminds me of poached pears, kind of aromatic.

Developing into a lovely, approachable wine – attenuated yet agreeable in structure. The finish is long, fleshy yet mellowed. Cellar for a further 3+ years if you can wait that long.

14% al/vol, screw seal, I acquired this after a Christmas time wine swap a few years back. 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz is currently listed as $25 per bottle.

I really appreciate vineyards that source from out of region. Some people are quite offended by breaking the old fashioned laws of appelation but I think its sensible – especially for the Hunter Valley where every second red crop is blatantly ruined by being too close to the coast. More than half of the wine produced in the Hunter Valley is grown out of region and most people wouldn’t know. Some find it hard to accept this.  EMBRACE REGIONALITY but dont be a regional snob!

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