In the 90s, David O'Leary started a wine brand that came to signify the finest value Clare Valley wines on the market.
That brand was Annie's Lane.
The Annie's Lane Shiraz, in particular, was the wine of choice for anyone looking for serious flavour on a budget, delivering unquestioned wine intensity, yet at a mass-market price.
Sadly, Annie's Lane became a victim of big company winery rationalisation (of the worst kind) a few years ago. David, however, parlayed his experience into a new operation with fellow Mildara Blass winemaker Nick Walker, and O'Leary Walker Wines was born.
Now, more then twenty successful years later, and the duo are channelling that very same Annie's Lane focus to deliver wines that remind that the Clare Valley can be the home of the pinnacle in band for your buck.
Just like this 2017 O'Leary Walker Shiraz.
Cleverly sourced from estate vineyards in the cool of Polish Hill River (which provides spice and aromatics) and warmer Armagh (for width and generosity), the package is then completed by the depth that comes from both an extended time on skins and 2 years in barrel.
The result, in bottle, shows the skill of man and the beauty of nature, with both an undulating, power-packed palate and an unexpected balance and energy. It's big, but not heavy, chunky but not cooked and utterly utterly delicious.
O'Leary Walker Wines was established in 2000 by winemakers David O'Leary and Nick Walker. With over twenty five years experience and established reputations making premium wine with the big companies, these two long time friends decided to take control of their own destiny and craft small batches of wine from some of the best vineyard sites in South Australia. With a great leap of faith they are now doing exactly what they set out to. Based in Leasingham in the Clare Valley, the duo source fruit from all over South Australia (including the Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale) but some of the best fruit comes from the Clare Valley itself. Of particular note is the Grace's vineyard in Watervale which supplies Riesling for the lauded 'Watervale Riesling' label. Grace's is a dry grown, west facing vineyard that sits on the classic 'red loam over limestone' Watervale soils and produces wonderful Riesling fruit. Similarly, the Smith and Molloy vineyards in the Polish Hill River area also contribute wonderfully intense Riesling fruit of the highest order. The O'Leary Walker range focuses on some premium regional varietals, taking the best bits from all around South Australia. The theory behind this is to draw on the grape varieties that excel in these quite different viticultural climates.
JAMES HALLIDAY - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
From the two estate vineyards, one in the warmer Armagh district, the other in the cooler Polish Hill River. Fermented with some whole bunches, 27 days on skins, matured for 2 years in French oak (25% new). Good colour opens the batting, balance, length and oak all aplenty, all in balance.
This is a rich and boundlessly fruity shiraz that has aromas of raspberries, blackberries and red-plum compote, leading to a beautifully silky palate that offers a wealth of rich, attractive plums and blackberries. Very approachable already. Drink now. Screw cap.
BOB CAMPBELL MW - THE REAL REVIEW
Dense and powerful red with ripe plum, dark berry, chocolate/mocha, anise and spice flavours. A big wine that's a little closed at this stage but promises to develop well
HUON HOOKE - THE REAL REVIEW
Deep, bright red/purple colour, with a dominant nutmeg, mace aroma, with a hint of clove and a full-bodied, fruit-sweet palate which is deep and bright, intense and finely-textured. It's nicely rounded, with a harmonious finish. The mace-like note (oak derived?) is a tad dominant. Dried herbs galore. A good wine and a keeper.
TONI PATERSON MW - THE REAL REVIEW
Rich mulberry fruit with hints of seashell. The palate has good concentration, with blackberry and dark cherry flavours. The acid is bright, and the tannins are framing. Decanting is recommended to unleash the fruit