Thousand Candles Yarra Valley

Once in a very, very long while a wine bursts into the world and smashes the familiar paradigms of classic blends and traditional practices with the kind of distinction that sets it among the classics. Thousand Candles Yarra Valley 2013 leaves me grappling for a paradigm, and I land in uncharted territory. It’s at once savoury like a great Wendouree, perfumed like Vosne Romanée and structured with the grip and assuredness of Hermitage. Yet it is emphatically and definitively Australian. With no varietal indications on the label, Bill Downie is reluctant to reveal its ingredients. “If it came from any other country, we wouldn’t even ask, and Australia won’t assume its rightful place in the world if we don’t value place over variety.” Mr Pinot no more, Downie has conjured the wine that will define the next chapter of his career and may yet go down as his finest to date – and it is, largely, not a pinot noir. To marry remarkable aromatic fragrance with such profound structure is astonishing, a feat which he puts down to a post-biodynamic regime of literally microscopic attention to vine health. The wine achieves a universe of complexity, yet upholds exacting focus and definition. It evolves and morphs in a gripping odyssey, leaping out of the glass with violets, exotic spice, black fruits and fresh liquorice straps, scaffolded around a mouth-embracing structure of wonderfully fine tannins. If you must know, the best of 100% whole bunch cool climate shiraz (55%) meets 50% whole bunch pinot noir (40%) and a dash of sauvignon blanc (5%). $97 at United Cellars (2012), but wait for the 2013.