Tuesday 21 June 2011

Haunting The Chapel Hill

The 2001 Australian Slayer Tour was memorable for me, as one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
I’ll never forget Tom Araya doing his thing, talking to the crowd - specifically the female contingent, and introducing “Captor of Sin” by saying “You’re all Harlots From Hellllllll!” Damn! I wanted that on a t-shirt!

This brings me to the subject of female winemakers. The likes of which I’ve heard called far worse than “Harlots From Hell”! They are notoriously difficult to work for, but for the most part particularly good at their jobs.

1998 Chapel Hill Shiraz. This particular wine was made by Australia’s pioneering female winemaker, Pam Dunsford. Not only was she the first female accepted into Roseworthy Ag College in 1972, she was also the first female to hold a winemaking job in a big company, first woman wine judge, first female consultant winemaker, wine educator, etc. You get the drift.... Let me just say, you don’t get that far without showing the horns and standing your ground every now and then!

The wine industry can be an unscrupulous business. There is no room for the meek and mild. Most female winemakers I have encountered have their own brand of “Chemical Warfare”, and certainly don’t feel a need for niceties. Many go out of their way to make themselves heard. Whether this be to get ahead in what is still a male dominated industry, or just to get ahead. Who can be sure?

How others may perceive their methods becomes irrelevant when the wine produced is this damn good! This much we know; this wine was made by a very accomplished woman. When Pam Dunsford was “Haunting the Chapel”, some pretty classy booze was the result.

The nose reminded me of the smell of a proper old-fashioned toffee-apple, with the clear, red toffee on the outside, with a colour to match!
A perfect balance of sweet and sour, similar to tamarillo jelly, or maybe sour plums. It had an elegance, which reminded you it came from fruit, without slapping you in the face like so many of the obvious fruit-bombs that come out of McLaren Vale now.
It had an amazing length of palate. Dry, but not drying.

This wine was one of the finest aged Australian reds I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. If Slayer use 36 Marshall Stacks.... this is a 38!



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