2018 Standish Release: Unicorns
Unicorn: noun: In the wine world, a unicorn wine doesn’t have to be the most epensive (but sometimes they are), it is rare/scarce/hard to find, high quality…
That definition fits these wines. They sell out in a instant, none faster than the 2018 vintage. They are comparable quality to the best in the country (and we know what that means) for a fraction of the price. They are, all five, regional expressions of ancient vineyard sites in the Barossa and Eden Valleys. Dan Standish has a way with these wines. He is a modern producer whose focus is to allow the grapes to shine and clearly articulate their soils and roots. He practics a ‘hands-off’ approach, in that the wines are fermented wild in open top fermenters, uses no more than about 15-20% new French oak (therefore not smothering the fruit with a blanket of oak characters), and employs the occasional use of alternate fermentation vessels such as concrete eggs. Make no mistake: these wines are huge. Gargantuan. My empty glasses had such strong legs running down their insides and collecting in the base that they looked like bloodhsot eyeballs. BUT – for their size and their sheer intensity, there is nothing brutish about them. I do believe i have written ‘elegant’ (or some synonym) for each wine in my notes below.
Why did I open them?
Likely a wise question. Firstly, because I wanted to – how many opportuities do we get to look at them side by side? Secondly, because there is no better way to assess their differences and similarities than to have them open together. Hopefully this will help you avoid doing the same for at least a few years and tell you a little bit about their flavours, textures, and impressions in the meantime. The full video is in the link at the bottom, if you’re more of a visual person.
All wines decanted for several hours prior and poured back into bottle. Tasting notes from glasses that have been poured and swirled for over an hour. These things make a difference.
94-96 Wine Advocate, 95+ Gary Walsh
The nose is dominated by red fruits – raspberry, mulberry, salted pomegranate, sweet summer tomato, red licorice and cool spice. This has a mineral, saline lick through the mid palate, the nose is edged by something faint and cool. Watermelon maybe. There is pink peppercorn, strawberry, and something creamy… like apple and rhubarb pie. The wine is achingly long, and intense, too. There is restraint here, and I am overwhelmed by the utter drinkability… the deliciousness of this wine, even now on release. Drink it whenever you want, but you’re best advised to wait a little while, at the very least a decent decant. I insist.
98-100 Wine Advocate, 98 Gary Walsh
The Eden sings brightly, with crystalline purity, here. This is elegant and fine, with a sweet creaminess to the edges of the fruit. But only as it evolves. As it opened it was tight and cool, speaking of blackberry, blackcurrant, white pepper and clove. Now, after a few hours, this is all about salted raspberry, plush tannins that have a plump and chew that is addictive, and a fruit profile that dances in and out of the black and red… as rhythmic and unpredictable as a Roulette wheel. This is about as perfect as shiraz gets in my book. Yes yes yes. But go slow and gentle… the evolution over time is astounding and eloquent.
2018 The Standish
Greenock planted 1912
98-100 Wine Advocate, 97 Gary Walsh
A united front of flavour here: the nose is as high-walled and as impenetrable as a Morroccan compound… the spices that await are worthy of a spice market… this is savoury and red, as well as being sweetly scented and plush… it has everything… a world within a world of spice and flavour… like overseeing the city from a magic carpet. “A whole new wooooorld…” This is salty and succulent and impressive and statuesque, and if there was a wine of the lineup for me it would be this. It takes a full minute or more to appreciate the offerings here, you must first see, smell, listen, think and wait…. Transcendant. Wow. It’s making me giddy.
2018 The Schubert’s Theorum
96-98 The Wine Advocate, 96+ Gary Walsh
This is everything I expect from Marananga: it is a deep dense dark brooking tannic beast and I love it. Black and red fruits, tanninc and tight but edgy and searing at the same time. There is a plush creamy sweet pie character that makes this impossible not to dive into again and again…. If there was a meaty wine in the lineup this is it – but it’s a mere suggestion of jamon iberico (macadamia…?)… wowsers. A monster. Impossible not to raise the eyebrows, for this is monumental.
2018 The Relic
Krondorf, Planted 1912
96-99 Wine Advocate, 96 Gary Walsh
The viognier presents clear expressions of stone fruit and finesse here, the palate is silky and plush. The viognier can enhance aromatics and colour, but it also silks out the palate, leaving a viscose trail in its wake that is both stunning and calming at once. This can be served either before or after the collection but not in the midst – it is distinctly different… unified by the modern, gentle winemaking hands of Dan Standish, but unique in its expression of cool viognier fruit characters, too. Glorious. Graceful. Elegant. Full. Exciting. Yes.