Wine Notes from Oz – October 2005

Don’t know if many of these will hit the shelves in Ireland, but if they do there are some goodies worth seeking out.
The first batch come from the Riverland, the engine room of Australia’s wine industry therefore not Jack White territory. Nevertheless, amid the big boys there are some boutique producers getting to grips with unusual (for Oz) varieties such as Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Barbera. The interest in Petit Verdot in this region is massive. of course ‘the little green thing’ has its heart and home in Bordeaux where, in good years it adds complexity, elegance and a slightly spicy lift to the produce of many chateaux. In poor years the damn thing doesn’t ripen at all. So unlike ‘the weed’ (as one Aussie winemaker described it to me) Merlot it highly heat-tolerant, important in this low lying sun-baked region.

18-20: Unmissable.
15-17: Stylish wine, some excitement.
13-14: Decent drinking.
10-12: Reliable & value for money.
8-9: You may like it, I didn’t.
Under 8: Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Long Row Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Angove’s)
Angove’s used to be represented in Ireland by O’Brien’s. They make some fabulous brandies and pretty passable wines. This one, from old vines grown on narrow T-trellises had good depth and a nice weight of clean citric fruit. Personally I thought it didn’t have quite enough acidity to keep things interesting but I should say I was in a minority of one.
Rating 13/20

Kingston Estate Verdelho 2005
Liked this one! Lovely perfumed, waxy nose with a little lime lift coming in on the back end. Quite a substantial wine with, on the palate, apples giving way to an apricot tinge and a long, mellow finish. Easy drinking and at 12.5 ABV, not falling over stuff.
Rating 15/20

Hardy’s Stamps Rose 2005
In the UK this sells for 4.99 so I suppose it’s a 9 euro-odd wine. If so, it’s a bargain. A 60/40 blend of Grenache and Shiraz, cold fermented with an aromatic yeast it was smartly put together with a wealth of strawberry fruit lingering on the palate to quite a refined dry finish.
Rating 14.5/20

Pennyfield Petit Verdot 2003
Low yield – 7-8 tonnes per hectare, basket pressed. Some goes into new oak, some into older barrels, a split of French and American. Critics were split too, some felt the American oak was a tad overwhelming. personally I thought it was lovely with a voiolently herbal nose, touch of beeswax in there and a good weight of plummy fruit and a whiff of black pepper. Acid balance was spot on so the 14.7 ABV wasn’t at all apparent. Loved the lingering finish too.
Rating 16.5/20

Southern Secret Petit Verdot 2004
Of the two, this was the critics’ choice, ‘cept mine. It announced its presence with an impressive herbal nose, then, on the palate, red berry fruit giving way to blackberries and currants. I thought there were some dark caramel tones in there that spoiled the finish but no one else ran with this. Therefore, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and lifted it into the ‘interesting’ category.
Rating 15/20

Omerstown Shiraz 2004
Fragrant nose, good weight of sweet fruit, maybe slightly cloying on the palate, long finish. Definitely better with food. The overall impression was this wine is something of a Penfold’s Koonunga Hill clone.
Rating 13.5/20

McGuigan Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Minty, herbal nose, entirely in charcater with the variety. 85% riveraldn fruit with a dollop of Barossa to beef it up. A very smart well-made commercial wine that punched above it’s weight, selling as it does in Oz for $6.50.
rating 14/20

Nissen Hut Fortified Mataro 2004
All the character of a great port, for bobbins prices! If this wine ever appears in Ireland I will snap some up. I look at my tasting notes and I’d only written one word “Yes!!!”


Sauv B is the signature variety of Adelaide Hills, probably Australia’s Marlborough. Tim Knappstein, perhaps the doyen of the region, summed it up nicely when he introduced the tasting “Sauvignon Blanc makes simple wine. It’s really made in the vineyard. All the winemaker can do it not mess up too badly what was made in the vineyard.”
All the wines were screwcapped.

Hahndorf Hill
Mineral bite on the nose, slightly herbaceous. on the palate, chiefly green apples with a little hint of raisin fruit. Good length, interesting wine.
Rating 14.5/20

citric notes, some balsam and a little tobacco on the nose. Gooseberry and stone fruit on the palate, plus a whack of citrus.
Good long clean finish.
Rating 13.5/20

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