The rich plummy Syrah-portion of this one is impossible to ignore in the nose. Also the eucalyptus. That’s your BANG-BANG outa the gate. Buried inside are gobs of grainy briar, tobacco and oil-brush smoke. Glass-coating and dense–a bright pink rim for clarity–it exudes not only warm-weather concentration, but plenty of black cherry and blood orange. Went for the big decanter because honestly: the euc is a bit stunning. I like eucalyptus–I really do–but this one’s pretty unabashed.

Tasting it proves what a powerhouse this wine is and will be. Like the nose, the fruit takes a back seat to everything else going on, slowly unfolding from deep inside to sooth the wounds everything else administers. Bitter pith rules the forefront–clearly egged on by all that eucalyptus–and the transparency of acid and dusty earth create a cool watery platform to showcase shy bright berry. Tannin gets a bit lost in amongst the heat and chubbiness of the Syrah, but it’s there.

It’s a big, blustery thing, and I’m torn as to whether I’d like to see more fruit. I worry more fruit would go cloying and forward, cheapening all aspects: placing it in cheap shiraz territory. The rich roundness of the mouthfeel frames the structure and herbaceous nature of the wine more than anything and if the two halves were reversed, I know it would feel compromised toward the American sweet-tooth and Parkerization. As it is, this massive beauty merely feels ridiculously young, and–although most people will drink it in its current state–will definitely blossom with a few more years under its belt.

Buy a case; Drink one a year.

2018 PENFOLD’S ‘Max’s’ Shiraz Cabernet 64/36 South Australia 14.5

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