I spent a couple of very educational and enjoyable hours with Bob McLean this afternoon. I had sought him out because I'd randomly picked up his 2005 Shiraz Mataro, which was drinking beautifully earlier this year.
His vineyard and cellar door are up on Mengler's Hill, which is effectively the border between the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. Hence he uses the term Barr-Eden to describe his vineyard's terroir, which is at an altitude of 477-510m.
His Mataro vines are the highest in the region, and surprisingly, to me at least, they are grown as bush vines, which is a method far more common to Grenache, which he also has planted there.
Bob has been experimenting since at least 2005 blending various amounts of Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache. He very generously gave me effectively a vertical tasting of those, and just in case someone has one of those extremely rare bottles I'll give a quick overview, but the main purpose was to get an idea of where the wines are headed as a style.
The 2006 was a Grenache Shiraz Mataro, possibly not with respect to percentages in that order. The wine is excellent right now. It had a tiny bit of carbonation at first, which I don't see as a fault as it blows off fairly fast, but I mention it because it does mask other flavours. Regardless it needs to breath at least 30 mins, and longer is better. It's complex, intense, balanced and downright delicious. It saw only old oak and whilst Bob felt perhaps it could have used more I didn't find it lacking. This was the best wine of the day, mostly due to it's age developed complexity and poise.
No 2007 left, so to the 2008 Mataro Shiraz (sold out) , which I think was roughly a 70/30 blend. An intense wine initially, but settled down well to show more complexity. Bob felt it a bit steely but I more thought it showed a slight touch of raisin character from the hot vintage. Again good balance, acid in harmony with fruit intensity. Perhaps slightly sleazy but you're not always looking for a girl to take home to mum.
The current vintage is 2009 Mataro Shiraz and sans notes I'm remembering this as being 50/50. I've got a bottle of this open right now so I'll try to be a little more accurate with this one. Initially both aroma and palate somewhat closed, at least compared to the older wines, but it's had 6 hours breathing now and both have opened right up. The Mataro is quite obvious with it's chorizo sausage and olive characters dancing around with the plums of the Shiraz. But whilst both are great dancers it's more like they're doing jazz ballet rather than a tango just now, but time will bring them closer together. Tannins quite fine, the gum licking acid is highly suited to a good meal. Very classy.
I also tried the 2010 which was effectively a barrel sample and found it hard to get past the tannins at this stage, but that's often the story with Mataro, it's just not a drink young grape, hence it often being teamed with Grenache. However I tasted enough to want to seek it out again next year.
The 2009 gets a Highly Recommended++ and **** especially given the very low production.