I think it's fair to say there's a touch of excitement in wine circles each year as the Thomas Wines reds are released, usually in the first week of May.
Those of us lucky enough to get samples get an early peek.
With Andrew Thomas being such an acclaimed craftsman, and the 2014 vintage being so outstanding - seriously, the Hunter is awash with dazzling 2014 shiraz right now - the anticipation was obvious.
Thomas is no shrinking violet but he's the sort of bloke who has always let his wine do the talking - a packed trophy cabinet brings confidence no doubt - so when he says over the phone "they're pretty awesome" you can't help but be interested.
So, the six-pack of 2014 shiraz arrived: Sweetwater, Kiss, Elenay, Synergy, Deja Vu and, finally, Two of a Kind.
Here's how I found them - in drinking order, rather than preference.
Sweetwater: A favourite of mine in years past. I love this wine in strong vintages as it takes on a mid-palate depth that takes it to another level. Remember the 2009 that swept all before it in wine shows? Again, another strong vintage. This is a beauty too. Aromatic - invariably its trademark - and silky, it rolls over the tongue. No searching for flavour here, it's obvious, but with such a lightness of touch. Earthy mixed berries, perfumed, loads of florals, a caress of spice and acid that is very fine and lingers. Soft and easy but so rewarding. Lovely now, a delight in five years no doubt. A brilliant start. $35
Two of a Kind Shiraz: A blend of Hunter fruit and McLaren Vale. At this time of single vineyard wines being all the go, it's nice to drink an inter-regional blend. It's tasty and super value too. Far more grunt than Sweetwater, it has dark fruits, earth, a smidgin of dark chocolate and pepper and clove. Powerful, but everything is in check. Bold but not brutish. In fact a wonderful counterpoint to Sweetwater. You could ask $40 for this and not be out of place. Just downright good drinking. $24
Elenay: This has oomph. Power, depth and length. But it's all terrifically well behaved. For me though, this is the one that needs some time to fully integrate. Black cherries, dark fruit, peppery herbs, a savoury character to it ... there's real energy to this wine. As I'm drinking it and enjoying its quality, I can't help but think in seven or so years what a delight this will be. A winner for those who are patient. $45
Kiss: Ah, the flagship. Price has gone up too - no complaints there though, it has been the same price for five years and in that time a lot of wines around it have soared. Some justifiably so. Others ... well, each to their own. But the 14 Kiss ... in my view his best yet. And that's saying something because he's produced some beauties. Vibrant purple, dark cherries, plums, spice, Hunter earth, depth, intensity ... in fact, a layered wine already in a brooding sort of way. This will be dazzling drinking in a few years. Medium to bold, already enjoyable but what a future it has for those with patience. Thomas has a way of 'saying 'boom'when he has a good one on his hands. Well Thommo .... BOOOM!!! If you're cashed up, buy some and be quick about it. When the word gets out, this will go faster than Pop's Monaro. $75
Synergy: This is made up of selected parcels of old vine Hunter fruit. It's a really good fit in this range. A touch lighter than the Two of a Kind, but not the same oomph as the Elenay or KIss. I think in general terms this year the wines are a product of their vintage - generally bigger and more generous in style, but still with great refinement and poise. A really good wine in its own right, I hope it doesn't get a touch lost surrounded by these stars. It shouldn't, it's pretty classy in its own right. It's the drink-now option while you show patience with Kiss and Elenay and outrageous value. $24
DJV: Stands for deja vu and is co-fermented with a splash of semillon verjuice. It's the lightest of the wines - a nod to the old Hunter River Burgundies which were quite light framed - we're going back to the Maurice O'Shea days here - but with an amazing capacity for graceful aging. I tried a Lindeman's 1961 not so long ago - tired yes, but still holding together 50-odd years later. Anyway, this won't go 50 years, but it's a very smart wine all the same. Again, good value at this price. Light in frame but not light on the tongue, if that makes sense. $30
Okay, that's it. The best Kiss I've had, lurvved the Sweewater too,the others jockeying for position after that - with the Synergy ridiculous value at $24. All in all, Thommo is right on song again. From a cracking vintage, he's nailed it.
Thommo recently opened a dedicated Thomas Wines cellar door at Tuscany Wine Estate, cnr Hermitage Road & Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin. You can visit him there or at thomaswines.com.au