Very different delight

In this review of Mac Forbes Healesville Syrah 2016 I must disclose a potential conflict of interest. I have known Mac for years and he’s a tremendous chap. Indeed, I have him in my contacts app as: Mac ‘Australia’s most charming man’ Forbes.

I like buying and drinking wine made by nice people! I feel I am doing them a favour by pushing a few pennies their way. I also feel that the wine I am drinking is somehow infused with the niceness of the winemaker, making for a more pleasant experience.

I would not worry about my objectivity when it comes to addressing this wine. I have made many trips to wine growing regions spanning the world and met an awfully large number of winemakers.

With the advent of the Internet my reach around the world has grown and, with most of the producers featured on my organ, you can be pretty sure I have met them for a drink, am a Facebook friend with them or, at the very least, have accidentally insulted their wives.

As luck would have it, almost all of the producers I have become aware of, through such endeavours, are all nice people. Therefore I feel no particularly strong urge to be especially polite to Mac compared to any other winemaker I know.

The note can proceed safely!

Healesville Syrah 2016 Mac ForbesHealesville Syrah 2016, Mac Forbes

Inviting aromas of bright, fresh fruit; raspberries and cherries in abundance. The fruit alone makes this Healesville Syrah smell like a Pinot Noir – cannot be a bad thing!

However, there’s a hint of leather to the nose and a grind of fresh black pepper. This is a Syrah after all.

This Healesville Syrah claims to be 13% but you would expect it to be half a degree lower from the nose. It is all about freshness, elegance and refinement. I do not mind what the alcohol level is, this wine smells unabashed of its charm, harmony and delightful deliciousness.

If there is any new oak I cannot detect it – a good thing on a wine as pure and focused as this. All the aromas seem built upon a foundation of solid earthiness. It is subtle and complex as well as being energetic and young; far too young to be showing any tertiary characteristics.

I’ve been drinking a lot of South African Syrah recently, very good they have been too. Their aspects have been more powerful and forceful compared to this sculpted little beauty – not that this lacks any depth to its aromas.

The palate is all about involute poise – it is lovely! Once again there is plenty of fruit, of a small-scale Pinot character. It is very fresh and invigorating.

Freshness is a theme here. The Healesville Syrah’s acidity is perfectly balanced to keep the fruit, and indeed the palate in general, scintillatingly bright.

Mac Forbes accentuates the cool climate characteristics of the Yarra Valley by being extremely gentle with the Healesville Syrahs tannin extraction. Hallelujah! After what seems like an age being trapped inside walls of pretty bold tannins, this wine is a relative once-daily permitted exercise walk through the beautiful, flowery pasture and surrounding Winchester.

Indeed, the whole structure of the Healesville Syrah seems to be leaning more toward having acid dominant rather than tannin. I see no problem with this. There is more than enough fruit, and there will be throughout its life, for the wine to be balanced, and the tannin present is certainly enough to stop it being soupy or flabby. It is really quite taut when viewed as a whole.

All these flavours are in scrummy harmony and it certainly does not lack anything in terms of complexity or length. I think it is only for ageing in the medium term, but will provide much pleasure throughout its life.

Mac Forbes Healesville Syrah 2016 is in a different continent, speaking in terms of flavour and structure profile, to the South African Syrahs I have been gleefully guzzling recently, but the bold Syrahs of the Cape and the racy verve of the Yarra Valley are both valid, and highly enjoyable, styles. One should never close one’s mind to different things (apart from veganism and natural wine), and the enlightened drinker will enjoy both this and, say, Savage Red.

With the relatively light body and good acidity this is a Syrah to drink with lamb dishes that have a good fatty character. Lamb chops or a good, stock-thickened lamb stew would suit this admirably.

Buy from Clark Foyster Wines.