2015 the howling dog

Grape Variety: Saperavi

Background: Early experimental batches of Petite Sirah (some as small as 120kg’s) produced wines that were rich and deep, but had pronounced tannins that caused tasters to release a slight howl as it crossed the palate. We later planted other naturally tannic varietals Tannat and Saperavi and with lessons learnt, the only howl we hear now is one of enjoyment! The best of these varieties are selected each year, either on their own or as a blend.

Winemaking: Destemmed into open fermenters, left to spontaneously ferment, then pumped over sporadically for 10 days before some parcels saw extended post fermentation maceration for up to 6 weeks. Extended skin contact integrates the tannins and produces a wine that is a lot softer and more approachable when young. Gentle basket pressing followed, with each vineyard parcel being kept separate in 2nd and 3rd use French oak hogsheads until just prior to blending and bottling in August 2016.

The Wine: Black as night and laden with an abundance of natural structure and personality, the palate surprises with immense flavour but with all elements in balance. Aromas of beetroot, tilled earth and juniper, the palate has an inky, iodine like deepness with elements of roasted coriander and cumin and a structure that is evident, but intrguingly supple. Built more along the lines of a marathon runner than a sprinter, it is already approachable but will greatly reward those who choose to keep a few bottles well into the future.

Cellaring: Ten years or more.

`The Howling Dog label is about “celebrating varieties that have density and power”.
This is so fresh it almost seems raw. It has that tank sample freshness to it; that purple crack of bare fruit flavour. Berries, foresty and spiced. A little chocolate. A lot of floral elements. And mouthwatering acidity. There’s tannin here, slightly twiggy but carried by fruit. It has drinkability writ large.
— Campbell Mattinson, winefront.com.au
95 points - A deeply coloured, ultra-exotic 72/16/12% blend of saperavi, petite sirah (durif) and tannat; has all the qualities its varietal parentage promise; it is infinitely powerful and compact, a vinous black hole in space, yet retains sufficient balance to guide it through decades of change.
— James Halliday, Wine Companion
94 points - Traditionally Massena has made The Howling Dog with durif/petite sirah; this release is a blend of 72% saperavi, 16% petite sirah and 12% tannat. The Howling Dog aspect may well have been lost a bit, but the blend itself sounds full of promise.Dark, brooding colour. Thick flavour. Asphalt, cloves, blackberry, sweet woodsmoke. Mouth-filling and mouth-puckering. Chunky chains of tannin drag through the wine. It’s not overdone, despite the way it sounds. Fresher, red-berried flavours peek through the finish, though it remains a Very Big Wine. A mouthful, but an intriguing one.
— Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront