Having been massively impressed with Finch’s Line Shiraz ’07 the wonderful chaps at Find Wine arranged for me to speak to Miles Corish, the winemaker behind the wine itself.
(1) What is the ultimate goal for Finch’s Line?
Finch’s Line began life as an attempt to create (or recreate) a traditional expression of Hunter Valley Shiraz. I therefore try to source old vine, dry-farmed fruit that is then handled without too much intervention other than ensuring that as much of the vintages character is maintained whilst avoiding faults. Wild yeasts, gentle extraction (pigeage), basket pressing, and maturation in larger older oak puncheon (25% new) are some of the techniques employed. The ultimate goal for Finch’s Line is to develop sales to the degree that they support a dedicated, permanent base within the Hunter Valley.
(2) Do you think the future of Aussie Shiraz is moving away from the typical Southern Australian style?
Throughout the late 80s, 90s and early 00s, some producers of Australian Shiraz (encouraged by certain high profile wine writers) made wines that championed a super extracted, concentrated style. It was almost as if concentration rather than complexity was the key to quality and in many instances, this was at the expense of terroir. Happily these styles (a number of which were South Australian) are now evolving. Producers have become increasingly aware of how to get the best out of their sites and are less fixated on phenolic ripeness and extended maturation in small new oak. Given that our climate will, in general, limit the production of ultra delicate styles of Shiraz, producers are continuing to adapt winemaking methods to enable the creation of balanced, more complex, terroir driven wines. Techniques utilised include slightly earlier picking, placing more emphasis on fruit (less and larger oak, lower ferment temperatures), and adding less acid (slightly higher pH = better mouthfeel). In summary, I do believe that the future of high quality Australian Shiraz is to continue to evolve away from the more super-concentrated “typically Australian” styles of the past.
(3) Who do you particularly admire in the wine world?
Maurice O’Shea. I have been lucky enough to taste three wines that he made from the 40s and 50s and they remain the most fragrant, flavoursome, refined and complex wines I have tasted to date. A genius, and underappreciated.
(4) What’s your view on English wines?
From those that I have tasted, some of the whites have been interesting whereas I think reds (particularly Pinot) struggle to ripen (in terms of flavour). In contrast, sparkling wines show huge potential and for me offer the best route to prosperity.
(5) And the question everybody hates…. If you were to be one wine what would it be and why?…..
Barolo. Adaptable enough to embrace modernity yet traditional at heart – with maturity and under the right conditions, capable of developing complexity and refinement.