19 August 2010

Hentley Farm 2008 The Beauty and The Beast Shirazes

No doubt about it. Everyone enjoys a nice pair. And that's exactly what I'm serving up this week.

La Belle et la Bête. The Beauty and The Beast Shirazes. From Hentley Farm in the Barossa.

At $52 and $77 respectively, they would want to be very good. And indeed they are.

The grapes for each hail from the same vineyard in the attic of the Barossa. But while the Beast's fruit comes from high on the hill, the Beauty's berries are from that part of the block laid low on the cool and shaded banks of Greenock Creek.

The difference it makes to the wines is immediately apparent and provides for an interesting comparison. Certainly, given the price difference, and my predilection for big Barossan shiraz, I started proceedings expecting a definite leaning towards The Beast.

But in the end, I'm a sucker for a stunner, and I was well and truly seduced by the more keenly priced Beauty.

My tasting mates had it the other way around - but, then again, they are also known to drink chilli oil for fun.

And so, in second place...

Hentley Farm 2008 The Beast Shiraz

The Beast is so named because that's exactly what it is. A bully. A monster. A brute.

It pours as red as the spanked bottom of an albino. It's intensely dense and virtually impenetrable.

Its legs stretch long and hang thickly around the glass before evaporating into waves of vapour. I wouldn't suggest lighting a match.

The nose is a brutal blow of meatiness and attacks the nostril like an angry quiver of cobras. There's a hint of chocolate. And there's definitely a vanilla gorilla hiding in there somewhere.

The drinking is ripe and dark and spicy and delicious; like a blended up Christmas pudding. And it is big. Really, really big. Nicely chewy, but perhaps just a little bit hot and dusty for me at the end.

Of course, it's a wine that's designed to be aged and it will soften as it does. You just might have to wait another 20 or 30 years for it to happen.

At the end of the day though, for me, The Beast is a plus-size model in comparison to The Beauty.

The first impressions are nice and the face is a winner. But there's just a little too much junk in the trunk.

You may well be into that kind of thing though. And as a great philosopher once wrote, "Go the ugly early and avoid the rush". I won't say a word.

Rating: 8/10
Drink with:Sophie Dahl
Price: $77

Hentley Farm 2008 The Beauty Shiraz

As the name suggests, The Beauty is the antithesis of The Beast.

There’s a small hit of viognier added to polish up the whole package, and it results in a truly elegant drop.

It’s incredibly deep purple in the glass, with a cheeky little red rim grinning back at you.

The alcohol is only slightly less than that of the Beast, but it’s much more restrained and doesn’t bloody your nose like some big Barossa shirazes can.

Instead there’s a pleasant little tickle of espresso and a comforting hint of Dutch oven. The cameo of viognier also lends a slightly floral lift. Sweet and savoury at the same time, it smells simply superb.

In the mouth, it’s a delicious explosion of raspberry tartness combined with the voluptuous smoothness of chocolate mousse. Perfectly weighted. Tightly constructed. It’s like drinking liquid velvet.

Refined. Sublime. Makes you feel fine.

This Beauty is one of the best I’ve had all year.

And you should have Her too. Just remember, She might be easy, but She’s not cheap.

Rating: 9/10
Drink with: Heidi Klum
Price: $52


  1. Congrats on the 1st Birthday of the W@nk! Great reading as usual, I think you deserve a drink...

  2. Just came across this blog. I'm a big fan of Hentley Farms and Barossa Shiraz. But, mostly, I'm impressed with the review. I think more wine reviews should be written like this. However, Heidi Klum doesn't deserve the Beauty. She's not sophisticated or smart enough. That's a wine to share with Sophie Marceau.

  3. Thanks Ty

    Happy to go along with your Sophie Marceau - have been a fan ever since Braveheart :)