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November 5, 2013 Wine , , , , , , ,

Best’s is West (aka, West is Best #1)

I’ve got a real affinity for Western Victoria. It’s a wild place where huge seas and storms meet the land in often brutal fashion. I’m out here writing at the moment and the house is being rocked by 25 knot onshores while a massive storm swell detonates on the reefs offshore. Epic stuff.

But no-one comes here for weather reports, let’s talk about wine. Western Victoria as a wine region (yes, I know technically there are a few regions) encompasses a pretty huge span, is a long way from anywhere, and for this reason is often somewhat forgotten about. But it’s exciting.

I’ve had a look at some of the region in a previous post, and there’ll be at least one follow up to this one, but today I’m going to look at the Icons of the region, in particular Best’s winery of Great Western.

There are three iconic producers in this part of the world: Seppelts Great Western, Mount Langi Ghiran, and Best’s Great Western. All three are principally known for their shiraz and have been making their house styles, largely uninfluenced by fickle trends, for a loooooooong time (Best’s have vines dating back to 1868). In many ways this restricts their wider popularity – the wines are truly fantastic, but they’re not flashy or sexy. You can easily miss their beauty when trying them young, but put them away in the cellar for a while (as long as you can hold out) and you will have wines that will stand square with many of the great wines of the world.

Located in some pretty decent country too.

Located in some pretty decent country too. (Mt Langi Ghiran Cellar Door)

And so I recently found myself in front of a lineup of the Best’s wines, and it reminded me just how awesome this region could be.

Opening with the ’13 Great Western Riesling was a treat. Best’s, and Western Victoria in general, make incredible riesling (watch out for post #2 in this series for more on this topic), and this is no exception. With a little less residual sugar than the ’12 it’s floral and textural, a beautiful drink.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more cellar worthy wine under $30 (or even more?) that the ever reliable Bin 1 Shiraz. The 2012 lacks the enchanting perfume of the Jimmy Watson winning 2011, but is a classic example of Great Western Shiraz, showing dark fruit, dust, and tight tannin structure. Put 3 or 4 in the cellar, forget about them until about 2017, then watch it start to evolve. You could say almost exactly the same for the 2012 Cabernet – classic, varietal, and built to unfurl over time.

The 2011 Old Vine Pinot Meunier (a red grape more often used in Sparkling wine production) shows some of the fragrance that was found in the ’11 Bin 1, filled with some black-forest and cherry fruit and tannins acting like a net to pull in all the flavours. Great stuff.

The Bin 0 shiraz is one of my favourite Australian wines, year on year. As with all the wines from this address (and many from the region) it’s classically restrained, a wine built on texture rather than on pure fruit power. The 2010 release is a cracker, with a bit more juicy red fruit than usual and a structure that again lifts the flavours off your palate and wraps them in a package of acid and tannin.

Some of the wines tasted were made both by previous winemaker Adam Wadewitz (now at Shaw & Smith) and some by current winemaker Justin Purser; with the commonality being that this fantastic property (can we say domaine? surely it’s appropriate) continues to be in safe hands and should continue to produce incredible wine for years to come.

It’s a bit of a tragedy that these wines aren’t more popular, they’re wines that I consistently buy for my cellar but don’t necessarily keep on the shelf all the time; so if any of this sounds interesting let me know and it’ll be just the excuse I need to spread the legend of this sensational booze.

Coming soon, some more ruminations on the exciting things happening in Western Victorian riesling…

Happy Drinking,

Peter