Spinifex Bete Noir Shiraz 2019
A Bête Noir is the bane of one's existence and here refers to the multitude of small parcels that go into this blend. Pete Schell's 2019 Bête is a blend of 70% old-vine Barossa Shiraz and 30% Eden Valley Shiraz sourced from vines located across a variety of Barossa's sub-regions--with the eastern foothills, Moppa and Moculta all contributing. Vineyard age ranges between 25 and 120 years, with "60 years being a fair average across the blend," according to Schell.
All the fruit was harvested by hand. The proportion of whole clusters varied from "everything to nothing" depending on the vineyard, with roughly 35% in the final cuvée. after an indigenous yeast fermentation, élevage was on lees in new (25%) and seasoned French oak (ranging in capacity from 225-litre to 2,500-litre) for 20 months, prior to bottling without filtration.
This is a great Bête Noir, with Schell's reputation as a master-blender clearly on show. From a vintage that was significantly lower-yielding than 2018 (therefore producing tiny berries and dictating macerations which were softer and shorter than normal), it shines with old-vine intensity, yet it's also surprisingly fleet of foot with dense and silky dark fruits encased in a web of fine tannins tempered by lingering freshness.