Bubbles, merlot and the Hunter Valley might sound like an unusual combination, but thankfully, James Lusby has once again implemented some sensible winemaking practices with his 2006 John Basil (handpicked, 7 days skin contact, 1 year French oak maturation, bottle fermentation, 3 years lees ageing and estate dosage in the way of Tintilla's 12yr barrel aged Liquor Shiraz).
Brightly coloured, fresh and inviting, the nose of Tintilla's 2006 John Basil is pleasingly regional and varietal, with its earthy, plummy fruit aromas underscored by notes of berry jam, crushed herbs, licorice and dark chocolate oak. Rich and syrupy, its palate is vibrantly flavoured with an earthy, savoury core drawn out by a generous hit of warming dosage. It finishes very long with lingering undertones of herbal, choc-licorice and tobacco-like complexities punctuated by an assertive, tough structure of fizzy cola-like effervescence and a drying, tannic astringency.
O Much like Tintilla Estate's 2009 Pebbles Brief Chardonnay (92pts), the decidedly dry, savoury and long John Basil has genuinely surprised me given its varietal/regional/stylistic boundaries. Clever winemaking. Drink 2012-2015.