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Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz 2002
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Named after the proprietor of the 19th century mail coach service that once ran through
their property, Henry’s Drive Vignerons is the wine operation established by Kim Longbottom and her
late husband Mark. During the nineteenth century establishment of the farming and wine industries of
south eastern South Australia, only horse drawn coaches provided the transit of mail and passengers.
The coach drivers reigned supreme on top of their coaches and won the respect and admiration of their
passengers. The coach service proprietor in this part of the state was a certain Henry John Hill. His
operation drove directly through a property, owned more recently by the Longbottom family. Today,
Kim continues to build the business in honor of Mark; with fine winemaking and brands such as Henry’s
Drive, Parson’s Flat, The Trial of John Montford, Dead Letter Office, The Postmistress, The Scarlet Letter,
Pillar Box and Morse Code. These wines are testament to Kim and Mark’s dedication to crafting fine
wines from Padthaway, one of one of Australia’s great wine growing regions.
Proprietor Kim Longbottom, who hails from New Zealand’s famous wine producing region of
Marlborough, has winemaking in her blood. Her late husband, Mark was a third generation pastoralist
and had a natural affinity with the land. Together, they shared a passion for viticulture and
winemaking—a passion that is central to the business. In 1992, Kim and Mark carefully selected sections
of their properties for vine planting. Six years later, a dream was realized with the release of their first
wines, coinciding with another life-affirming moment—the birth of their daughter, Margo. Sadly, Mark
passed away in 2008. A loyal and honest man with a wry sense of humor, Kim and Margo’s loss was felt
far outside his beloved Padthaway.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute labels, though both can certainly be found here. Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet, along with a huge range of landscapes and climates; it is impossible to make generalizations about Australian wine. Most regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry weather, and those in more coastal areas receiving humid and tropical, or maritime weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing, and there are a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.