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Expensive wine 56: Torbreck The Steading 2009

steadingOne of the surprises when I wrote this year’s holiday wine trends post was the resurgence in Australian wine. The Aussies have been down for so long, and seemed to have so far to go to come back, that it was one of the last things that I expected.

Yet, on reflection, I’ve seen evidence of that over the past year, on both the low (Yalumba’s $10 wines) and high ends (the d’Arenberg Dead Arm). These are wines that acknowledge the excesses of the past but have found a way to make Australian wine that tastes not like someone thinks it should, but as it should, given the terroir the country’s winemakers have to work with.

The most recent example is The Steading ($38, sample, 15%), a shiraz that mostly lives up to the hype on the winery website: “The Steading is perhaps the most important wine within the Torbreck portfolio. …” It’s powerful, but not offensively so, as was the style in the past when 15 percent shirazes didn’t care what they tasted like as long as they were 15 percent shirazes.

It’s a dark, earthy and peppery wine, and thorougly intriguing. Missing was the blast of black fruit that I expected, but it was still fruity (blackberry?), as a wine of this kind should be. And, though the label says 15 percent alcohol, it didn’t taste like it. This is a a big wine that needs food, and would not be out of place at most holiday tables.

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