When Isa Bal, Head Sommelier of the Fat Duck Group first came to Mount Langi Ghiran in March this year, a spark was lit. Three months later, the 2012 Langi Shiraz was introduced to the degustation menu Fat Duck Melbourne.
His first visit to Langi also stirred within him a desire to create a wine from this special fruit.
Isa was accompanied by journalists from James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine for their story on the Grampians and Pyrenees regions, as featured in the Aug/Sept edition. Their Langi Shiraz journey started in the heart of our vineyard, the iconic Old Block Shiraz. Old Block hadn’t yet been harvested at that time. It was a rare chance for our guests to taste its fruit – the essence of Langi – approaching its peak maturity. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. It was one of the last clear, warm and sunny days of the vintage. The vineyard looked magnificent beneath a crystal clear sky.
It felt as though it was here, in the middle of the vines, that Isa’s urge to create a wine from Langi was born.
Following the vineyard walk, we travelled back in time to 1984 for taste of Langi’s history – a Langi Shiraz vertical. Ben Haines, our Chief Winemaker opened twelve different vintages to portray the richness, depth and mystique of Langi Shiraz. Isa already knew Langi. In the magazine, he described the 2006 vintage as “Rich, full-bodied, very distinctive and balanced with a long finish”. For him, the wine is still showing the class it had the first time he tasted it in 2009. He also commented on the 2005 as he recalled tasting it many years ago, and remarked on its vibrancy and energy almost 10 years on.
When Isa left the vineyard, it felt like Mount Langi Ghiran had truly connected with one of its visitors yet again. The team here, and those of you who have also visited, often refer to its special energy when describing the place. Our Chinese guests even have a word for it, líng qì (spiritual influence that comes from the mountains).
Isa Bal returned a week later to hand harvest the Old Block fruit for his ultimate cool climate shiraz wine, under the guidance of Ben. One unique barrel was created from this one day – for Isa and Mount Langi Ghiran. Like all of the shiraz from Old Block, this “wine with no name yet” is a work in progress that holds great promise and special memories.