This is my 3rd report on the annual Australia Trade Tasting. Having already covered Pinot Noir & Chardys and Cult & Boutique’s range (see here), this is a mixed bag in terms of wine style, region, variety and distributor – great quality is the common thread. (Stockist details given where the distributor also sells wines retail).
Chateau Tanunda, Barossa Valley
Chateau Tanunda lays claim to being Australia’s largest and oldest Chateau (established 1890), but tradition isn’t holding it back – a couple of cutting edge whites here, as well as a wonderful old vine Shiraz.
Chateau Tanunda Barossa Tower Single Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2009, the Barossa – this hails from high Barossa a.k.a. Eden Valley. Handpicked, it shows good freshness and chalky texture – well done. RRP £8.99
Chateau Tanunda Single Vineyard Riesing 2009, Barossa – 20-25 year old vines, Eden Valley again, produce a nice weight of lemon and lime fruit washed with minerals. Handpicked fruit is de-stemmed, not crushed, basket pressed and, unusually, left on the gross lees for a short period – an interesting wine. RRP £9.99
Chateau Tanunda The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2008, the Barossa – a barrel sample but retailing at £19.99 this looks to deliver lots of bang for buck. Very tightly structured right now, but showing good lift and balance the Shiraz is sourced from Angaston, the gateway to Eden Valley.
Clairault, Margaret River
Stocked by M&S, Clairault has been steadily bagging awards for its Estate Cabernet – the 05 tasted below won a Trophy & Gold Medal at the IWC, 2009 while the 04 (also very good) won 5 stars in a Decanter WA Cabernet tasting last year.
Clairault Estate Chardonnay 2007 – a persistent wine, with a tight, long finish shows white peach, with cashew. RRP £16
Clairault Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – very good, lifted balsamic-edged nose and palate with lively red and riper, perfumed blueberry fruit. Well done, with good balancing freshness. RRP £19.50
Fraser Gallop, Margaret River
Fraser Gallop Estate Chardonnay 2008 – a tight palate with zesty lemon, long and persistent, very good. RRP £19
Fraser Gallop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – lots of balsamic and dark chocolate –edged berry fruit with subtle, spicy bay leaf. Well made, lifted and leafy. Maybe lacks a little oomph, but it’s certainly elegant. RRP £24
Fraser Gallop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – darker and spicier than the 2008, the bay leaf more pronounced, the fruit more curranty, but still nice balsamic lift. RRP £24
Crawford River Wines, Henty, Victoria
Crawford River Riesling 2004 – this Peter Pan shows little sign of ageing since 2008. Fabulous freshness, purity and persistence, auguring a long life ahead – spoiled from the off!
Crawford River Riesling 2005 – in contrast, this has put on weight and developed petrol and spice notes. Nonetheless, it’s rich and involving with a long, rolling finish.
Crawford River Riesling 2009 – a powdery, talc nose and palate, for me often a sign of a warmer year and this is riper and rounder (also 13.5%), though there’s and undercurrent of persistent acidity. A little gangly at the moment – needs time to come together.
Punt Road Airlie Bank Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008 – this is a well balanced combination of ripe fruit (peach, fig) with fresh acidity lending restraint. Good value at RRP £8.99. Punt Road also produce the Yarra Hills label for Majestic including a Chardy – also fresh, but more lemony/chalky than the Airlie. It’s priced at £7.49 but buy 2 bottles and save £5 = £4.99. I preferred the Airlie, but the Yarra Hills would make a good summer party quaffer at £4.99.
I visited The Lane, nestled high up in the Adelaide Hills in 2004. Then the wines were made at Hardys but since 2005, it all happens at the state-of-the-art winery overlooking the vineyards. Wines sold by Corney & Barrow
The Lane Pinot Gris 2008 – a pink tinge to this and its flavoursome, indeed very Pinot Gris, with juicy pear and a spice notes. RRP £11.99
The Lane Gathering Sauvignon Semillon 2007 – though this sees 100% new oak, its an amazingly vibrant wine with a core and current of racy lime coarsing through its veins. Very good.
At 550m, this is High Eden indeed. Ex Petaluma man Con Moshos makes the wines at Mountadam. I’d really enjoyed the Riesling when I tasted it in 2008 on my Rizza gig (see my notes here), but today it was a little lacklustre…Good chance though to catch up with the rest of the range, available from Justerini & Brooks
Mountadam High Eden Estate Chardonnay 2008 – a savoury, nutty, smoked hazelnut style with a rich citrus and white peach palate, balanced by persistent acidity.
Mountadam Cabernet/Merlot 2007 – mostly Eden Valley fruit so though it has a core of plump, plummy fruit, its also fresh and mineral.
Mountadam High Eden The Red 2007 – a very fresh, well-defined palate with some earthy undertones (positive) supported by fine grained tannins. Nice persistence.
St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2009, Barossa – very fresh, fruity and lemony on the nose with zesty lemon and lime in the mouth; a relatively round palate so perfect for those who find Aussie Rizza a bit austere. Bibendum
St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 200, Barossa – this is better suited to acid freaks like me – more of an emphasis on the lime than lemon, this is finer framed with persistent acidity pushing that long finish. Bibendum
St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2006, Barossa – an intense nose with some floral lift. Concentrated, sweet, ripe black fruits dominate the youthful palate but there’s warm earth and mineral undercurrents too on a long finish. Very good. Bibendum
St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2006, Barossa – winemaker Toby Barlow says the old vines that provide the goods for this wine are super fragile because the trunks are riddled with termites. Old Block is always a blend of Barossa Valley and Eden valley fruit, this year from vines born in 1906, 1913, 1927 and 1950. Great vines and a great vintage combine to make a cracking wine, which apparently has pipped Grange to the post in a Shiraz-off Down Under. It’s a beautiful wine, very intense, tight-knit with gorgeous fruity purity and spice lift; not soft but strong and very long. Bibendum
Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2009, Clare Valley – a lovely perfume, with unusual ripeness on the almost peachy palate, though there’s more typical lychee and citrus too. A powerful, succulent Riesling. Bibendum
Petaluma Viognier 2009, Adelaide Hills – a spicy edge to the nose, with good purity of white peach in the mouth; well balanced, it sees 2/3 new oak and part malo for texture and cedary complexity. Good. Bibendum
Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2007, Adelaide Hills – a big year but this has a core of fresh cut apples, making for a fresh, persistent finish. Good. Bibendum
Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007, Coonawarra - rich and ripe, black and blue (fruit), with chocolatey tannins and bay leaf; persistent, long finish. Very good. Bibendum
Knappstein Ackland Vineyard Riesling 2008, Clare Valley – I really liked the Riesling when I first came across it in 2008 – right up there with the top Clare Valley crew, This has an enticing floral and talc nose, notes which lace a lime shots palate; good length, tight structure. Bibendum
Plantagenet Hellfire Bay Chardonnay 2008, Western Australia – well made at this price with quite soft, applely fruit and well integrated acidity – no elbows…£6.99 Liberty
Plantagenet Omrah Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Western Australia – good tight, zippy Sauvignon, a little funky/leesy too, with nice persistence and length. £9.99 Liberty
Plantagenet Great Southern Riesling 2008 – very pretty, forward Riesling with lime and lime blossom; gently talcy, this is softer/more forward than usual. £9.99 Liberty
Plantagenet Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Mount Barker, Great Southern – very tight, concentrated Cabernet with bright, balsamic-edged black berry and currant fruit and lifted bay leaf notes; very good definition and length – ex-Cape Mentelle man, John Durham’s first vintage and a step up. £16.99 Liberty
Plantagenet Great Southern Shiraz 2007, Mount Barker, Great Southern – a core of sweet ripe fruit with an underlying savoury quality; good depth of flavour but I reckon the Cabernet is much better value. £24.99 Liberty
Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007, Margaret River – lovely mouthfeel, with textured tannins bay leaf and chocolate; the fruit is a little on the backfoot at the moment, but it has no little intensity and length. A fire in its belly! £44.99 Liberty
Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2007, Margaret River – my September 2009 Wine of the Month (see here), today just as limey and persistent but showing some riper rock melon character too; delicious tang and texture, cleaving to the palate yet not…gorgeous. £35.95 Liberty
Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2009, Clare Valley – very floral, focused, tight and mineral. This is a beaut, long, persistent and very fine, an elegant Riesling. £14.95 Liberty
Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon, Clare Valley 2008 – a gorgeous nose shows lemon and lime, juice, pith and oil, with some smoky oak. Though these follow through on the palate, it’s youthful, quite tight, even austere, right now. Lots to give yet. £14.95 Liberty
Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2009, Clare Valley – very pretty, it’s Riesling traits – bright, well-defined citrus fruits and an underlying rapier-like acidity, balancing its toothsome sweetness. £19.99 (half bottle) Liberty
Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling 2009 – on the back of this tasting, a February Wine of the Month – pretty but precise, this is lifted and floral. It shimmers with bright, jewel-like citrus fruit; clear as a bell, with lovely lemony line and length. A beauty. £17.99 Liberty
Grosset Riesling Polish Hill 2009, Clare Valley – pure, bright nose with lime juice shots, pithier notes, not as tight as the 2008, it seems relatively forward. Very good but I’d like to revisit it. £19.95
Shaw & Smith
Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – a very mouthfilling tropical mid palate is well met with a drive of balancing citrus acidity, making for good length. £11.99 Liberty
Shaw & Smith Pinot Noir 2008 – opened up since I last tasted it (see here), showing silky tannins, nice length with floral, red fruits some blackcurrant too. £21.99 Liberty
Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2007 – youthful, rich, dark and chocolatey, in fact quite brooding at the moment, though very well balanced. Needs time (see an earlier review here where the wine was tasted a greater leisure) £18.99 Liberty
Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris 2008 – pretty pear skin nose and palate with some texture and weight, but not at the expense of fruit brightness and definition. Well done. £9.99 Liberty
Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2009 – a floral nose with a touch of beetroot and violets; good freshness, a savoury core though sweet fruited. Well done commercial style. £9.99 Liberty
Check out my notes of an excellent vertical of the flagship Shiraz here.
Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2008 – a nice meaty grunt to this with the sweetness of fruit to balance, even some floral tops notes. Nice persistence and good value at £14.95 Liberty
Clonakilla O’Riada Canberra District Shiraz 2007 – quite funky with a wild edge to its sizeable big mid-palate; lots to savour here, though query if it’s at the expense of structure…£26.99 Liberty
Ex-Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker Duval’s SGM really stood out of the Barossa/McLaren Vale for its relatively dry style on a blind SGM tasting at McHenry Hohnen when I was in Western Australia last October (see here)
John Duval Plexus Barossa Valley Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre 2006 – good grunt to this dry, grown up SGM, with dark chocolate and spice-edged red and black fruits but what impresses most is its balance and length. £18.99 Liberty
John Duval Entity Barossa Valley Shiraz 2007 – phwoar, great structure, plump but juicy fruit wed to savoury, chocolatey tannins. Terrific length; very impressive and a very fair price for such a confident, seamless and sexy delivery of power. £21.49 Liberty
SC Pannell Shiraz/Grenache 2006, McLaren Vale – ex-Hardys’ Chief Winemaker Steve Pannell also goes for a drier style and this is particularly savoury, with plenty of power, a good bit still in reserve – still quite tight. £22.99
The Wine Detective
(Wines tasted 3 February 2010)