2014 Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz Barossa Valley
As we’ve said here before, just because the market for Australian wine has been in shambles for the past decade or so doesn’t mean the Australians themselves haven’t been making great wine! The classics are still, after all, classics- it’s only been finding them that has become so tough. And so it was a complete surprise when the importer for Barossa Valley Estate, a name I hadn’t heard in years, called to say that they’d found some bottles of E&E Black Pepper Shiraz in their inventory no one knew about, and if I wanted them, he’d give me a good price. ‘Hell to the yeah,’ I said. A fabulous price on one of the rarest of all Australian treasures? Sign us up! Named by Laughton’s (the most important Aussie wine journal) as one of Australia’s ‘25 Benchmark Wines,’ the E&E is sourced now, as it has been for the past 25 years, from very old Shiraz vines in the Moppa and Ebenezer sub-regions of the Barossa Valley. Originally named for the black pepper aromas found in the darkest, most concentrated lots of old vine Shiraz in the Barossa Valley Estate cellar, it’s been a cuvee that took on a life of its own once it was bottled separately and first sold. Often cited in the same breath as wines like Penfold’s ‘Grange,’ Elderton’s ‘Command,’ Henschke’s ‘Hill of Grace,’ the ‘Black Pepper’ quickly became an icon and, over the past few vintages, has been rarely seen outside of Australia. Dark and super-concentrated, it’s a veritable liqueur of Shiraz with its hallmark pepper aromas vying with blackberry essence, plum sauce, chocolate mint, camphor and vanilla for your attention followed by a palate that just goes on and on. Still very young, it’s typically a wine that hits its stride at about 10 and continues on for much, much longer. A 1994 enjoyed recently from our cellar was still primary and thrilling from the second it was opened.