"It’s been decades since I’ve been to New York," says the youthful and sporty looking Lynne Shirvington who has come to the U.S. from McLaren Vale to showcase verticals of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Lynne, her husband Paul, and son Mark are the trio behind this upscale brand.
It’s always great to experience a vertical tasting, especially when the owners are there to provide insight. I really enjoyed the 2001 Shiraz, which received 98 points from Wine Advocate, though I enjoyed the 2008 equally well with its jammy red fruits and "inky black fruit over vanilla ice cream" character. The wine across the seven year span had concentrated fruit and complexity without being fruit forward. Though it depends on the vintage, in general the wine is 100% barrel fermented and aged in roughly 14 months of a mix of new and old oak, both American (majority) and French barrels.
Now the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon earned 94 points from the Wine Advocate and in a similar way, I liked the 2008 which was very much "drink now" yet can clearly improve with bottle age. Though it again depends on vintage, this varietal typically sees less oak (12 months) with a similar distribution of new and old oak, and French and American barrels.
The Shirvingtons are an interesting family … Paul and Lynne left glamorous Syndey for McLaren Vale (which they compare to a small town like California’s Napa Valley) for a new lifestyle. The couples’ energy and excitement about their wines is intoxicating … and their committment to quality (as much as what I can evidence in the glass) is easily perceived. Their son Mark, however, is the Vineyard Manager and is clearly master of the daily operations. Over the course of lunch at Vermillion we discussed all the aspects of winemaking wine-lovers do not usually like to think about, such as the difficulty of accessing water, vintage variation, etc.
Vermillion is an exotic Indian fusion restaurant in New York, and I thought both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz went well with the dishes. For example, I ordered a Brazilian seafood soup (pictured below) and the wines paired excellently because of the heat from the spice and body of the sauce.