Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012


This wine caused an amount of debate recently on social media after two well respected wine scribes had slightly differing opinions about the wine. One claimed it “missed the mark” whilst the other saw potential for the wine, but it needed time.

The below is how I saw the wine play out over a few days…

Day one

Cracked open the screw cap and poured immediately without decanting or allowing time to breathe. A quick swirl in the glass was all the oxygen I allowed the newborn to gasp.

Nose: Briny, young, tight, sweet raw oak, steely and hidden. On the palate: dark, drying unbalanced tannins overlaid with raw oak. Espresso coffee bitterness grinding against struggling red fruit like a “Lindt Raspberry Intense” chocolate square. Almost unpleasant and undrinkable.

Day one, 2.5 hours in the glass

Deeper, plusher fruit: plums and mulberries. Still with resin of raw oak but sharper red to dark red fruits. The Chapel Hill house style of inky, gun smoke, ash and iodine starting to emerge. The tannins becoming finer, but still finishes with that dark espresso tartness.

Day two

Lifted raspberry and deeper mulberry, still with an inky salty edge.  Medium to full body that resonates with savoury elegance, rather than tart bitterness. The tannins crescendo to fine structure, counterpointed with moderate acidity. A wonderful expression of McLaren Vale Shiraz.

Day three

Note, after Day 2, I had left the wine overnight at room temperature with a serve of argon from “Wine Save,” rather than refrigerate the wine, (which I do sometimes if I’m not intending to finish the whole bottle in a couple of days). The Wine Save does slow the oxidative/ageing process, but not to the extent that I’d risk the finest Burgundy with it for anything other than 1 to 2 days.

Soft red raspberry fruit. The wine is losing its plushness. The tannins showing through harshly. The wine feels a little thin and pursed now in the mouth. The espresso and the bitterness returns…whilst still retaining shadows of chocolate, it’s more Lindt 85% Dark, rather than a medium weight balanced with fruit.


The wine is exceptionally sound and very young for the moment. If serving it in the next couple of years, it deserves a decent decant, but otherwise time will be this wine’s friend. Day 2 showed the wine at its best, a bit of oxygen and development.

Save it for a few years and let time polish the gem that Fragos has carved.

we're going to the Chapel....

we’re going to the Chapel….

RRP: $30

Alc: 14.5%

Sample courtesy of Chapel Hill Wine


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