Friday, November 25, 2011


- Hilltops, NSW
- $30
- Screwcap
- 15.0%alc

Freeman's 2004 Aged Release Secco (93pts), an Amarone inspired wine where the rondinella and corvina grapes are partially dried in a prune dehydrator, has been one of the finds of the year for me thus far. Perhaps the only thing holding back the absolutely delicious 2004 Secco from even greater heights, was the lack of a truly authoritative tannin structure, a quality which, Dr Brian Freeman happily informs me he's successfully captured in the 2007. Well, let's have a look-see then...

This is the third bottle of 2007 Secco I've had and I'm finally starting to get it. Early on, it smells thickly confected and jarringly awkward, but let it decant for at least 6 hours and watch it transform into an ever changing creature of complexity, masculine beauty and intrigue. It's at once meaty, leathery and spicy, richly ripened and a flamboyant brute, baring a gruff tone of smoky oak to add savoury grunt to its deeply aromatic, valid currant-like fruit and brown leafy scents. The palate really puts its foot to the floor, leaving any concept of subtlety behind as it deposits the imposingly firm, penetrative, spiralling and intense tannin structure Dr Freeman must surely seek with this wine. Its all-encompassing backbone takes centre stage in its youth, framing and directing its smoothly set, luscious flavours of savoury-edged blackberries, redcurrants and smoky chocolate oak with real authority and drive, allowing a sly note of aniseed to linger through the finish. Rough and rugged, it's definitely a man, and almost enough to make me turn...

ü+ A real living, breathing beast. A ringing endorsement of the benefits of decanting, time, patience and repeat consumption for wine. The 2007 Secco may not be as immediately delicious as the 2004 Aged Release (naturally), but it's perhaps even more up my alley, as it's a much more serious, longer term prospect, with a spectacular tannin structure and shape rare in Australian reds. Dr Freeman's closing in on the white light here. Cellar it. Drink 2017-2025.
94 points


  1. excellent post Chris. Whilst I'm not into high alcohol reds, the unusual nature of this wine, and your description would make it an interesting counterpoint to pinots and hunter reds in the cellar. Worth buying me thinks.

  2. Nice one Chris, haven't accessed this younger wine yet, must do so before end of year.

    It's an interesting thing, the decant for some of the gruntier Italian varietals. I was told dthis year by a waiter in Milan that a 24 hr decant is nothing strange for him. I've had a few aglianicos this year open for 6 - 8 hrs, and the wines are coompletely winning at the table.

    Had I served at opening, I'd most likely be politely asked to remove the gamey/funky/weird wine. It's been another learning year...and that's okay!

  3. Andy,

    Definitely best served in the cellar this one. I have mine tucked away!

  4. Via,

    Indeed, serious decanting is essential for this Secco. I thought the 04 needed some pretty serious decanting, but the 07 is probably better suited to decant first thing in the morning, drink at tea. As you mention, 24 hr could definitely be the go. I just feel sorry for the people who rush into such wines with impatience - and miss out on all the good bits!

    A good friend of mine, who fell in love with the 04 Secco, cracked a bottle of the 07 before I did. He made the mistake of taking it to a dinner party where no decanter was present and rest assured he didn't find the wine any good at all, although he did say his last glass was vastly superior to his first.

    So, a week later we cracked another one at his place, this time with an initial 2 and a half hours decanting, but once again, initial disappointment. BUT, 4 hours later, as we were finishing off our last glasses after we had enjoyed an outdoor charcoal grilling T-Bone session, the wine was finally starting to look more complete.

    So the next weekend, we decanted one at about 8 in the morning, and drunk it at around about 4 or 5 in the arvo. Finally - complete satisfaction had been achieved!

    If we weren't so smitten in the first place by the 04 Secco, we probably never would've gone to such lengths to extract enjoyment from the 07.

    Once again, as you say, it's been another learning year!

    Chris P

  5. I am serving with a lamb shank stew tonight (I asked the Freemans what the optimal dish to serve this was and they pointed me towards a traditional Italian horse meat stew).

    Aware of its punching power, I opened the bottle last night for a small glass and a bit of aeration The first thing that hit me was the searing acid. After a while in the glass, the tannins came through. There was a bit of burnt rubber / bitumen vibe. Not necessarily unpleasant, but a little like getting razorburn while snogging someone (I imagine).

    Had a small taste just now before serving in 4 hours and it's completely drinkable - if powerfully alcoholic and obviously designed as a double act with meat-based food dishes (although apparently it also pairs well with artichokes).

    Will be interesting to see how it develops over the next couple of days as I doubt this bottle will be finished tonight.