I am pretty sure the Sydney International Wine Competition missed some of the best Australian wines but there definitely were a couple of bottles from renowned wineries especially in full bodied red category – Kalleske, d´Arenberg, Kellermeister… etc. They all presented well done and well built sumptuous wines which were fresh like my grandma´s blueberry pie and heavy as a tombstone. Even though I have heard that South Australia has changed over the last years (they pick earlier… they use less new oak…)… well, certainly not these guys. Full throttle run on a new barrel´s nitro. Two weeks later things got even worse, a sales rep presented a traditional Barossa wine brand in our shop and I couldn’t believe her magic trick – Two wines in one glass! The premium Shiraz was so obviously improved with added acidity that it made an impression of drinking overripe GSM and Riesling at the same time. However interesting, not a very nice experience. Although I certainly prefer when the least amount of possible compounds are added to the must I am not a militant, nature is strong and some regions just have to deal with it. But, for God´s sake, do it with class!
Now the good news. I have Travis Earth´s Unwooded Mataro in my glass and a smile on my face. Vibrant, fresh and extremely smooth wine. Currants, raspberries and dried herbs on the nose, fine acidity carrying lots of red cherries and raspberries ending with an almost orange like citrus line. So light, so quaffable, entertaining, one of the best non barrel aged reds I have ever drunk – undemanding yet sophisticated. The wine is extremely food friendly, able to accompany meat based pasta over schnitzel to dried meat, not strong enough to deal with steak or an intensive spice though. Having the wine blind, I would think about unoaked Barbera or Beaujolais Village… and this is the unwooded Mataros biggest, while probably the only problem. It is simply out of place. If I was complaining about those wet brick like classics I, on the other hand, don´t think that the pendulum should swing to the other extreme. Nevertheless, if you want a perfect example of an everyday red go for it.
Second glass – same producer, Mataro Shiraz Krondorf Vineyard 2013. Now we are talking, this is undeniably a red wine from south Australia. Mulberries and ripe cherries, heaps of dried herbs, liquorice and touch of chilli dark chocolate. The wine is an athlete but not a sumo fighter, maybe decathlon? Structured yet fresh, intensive ripe flavours again with dominating dried herbs, mulberries, dark cherries and sour cherry pralines. There is a small blind spot in between the mid palate and long finish but in general it is very nice, serious and entertaining wine with a fair price tag (see below).
Travis Earth is a name to keep in mind because he ticks the boxes to become a legend. Single vineyard wines focus, noninterventional winegrowing and winemaking (he uses more than one hundred year old basket press…), very limited releases and aura of a wine wizard. The grapes come from weathered schist and decomposed granite soils of the southern border of Barossa and Eden Valley which are, by the way, from some holdings previously owned by the Henschke´s family. So far so good. But there is also some bad news. Travis has produced three single vineyard wines – two from Krondorf vineyard (100 % Mataro + aforementioned Shiraz Mataro) and the flagship wine Flaxman´s Shiraz which I, unfortunately, haven’t tasted as its price is much higher than my daily wage. Now, the Flaxman´s vineyard was sold to a bigger player means there won´t be any Flaxman´s Shiraz anymore. Fortunately, Travis mentioned he has another source of equally great fruit so don’t worry, he will be going on in producing some very fine terroirdriven wines.
Travis Earth Barossa Mataro 2015
Alcohol: 13,5 %
Quality: very good
Would I buy again? YES
Travis Earth Mataro Shiraz, Krondorf Vineyard 2013
Alcohol: 14,5 %
Varieties: Mataro 75 %, Shiraz 25 %
Would I buy again? YES