Abercrombie & The Florita on overdrive: finesseful Aussies

My June Wines of the Month reflect an inspiring month of tasting really great Australian wines.  Both these wines come from members of Australia’s First Families of Wines about whom I’ve already blogged here and here, with detailed tasting notes of several vertical tastings yet to come.  These are, however, recent releases, indeed, yet to hit these shores:

Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Margaret River, Western Australia) – this I tasted alongside the 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2001, having tasted the 1998 earlier in the week.  The 2008 quite simply blew me away with its fragrance, fine tannins, freshness, fabulous fruit purity (cassis and black olive) and subtle cedary oak – Abercrombie on overdrive!  Fortunately Howard Park’s owner Jeff Burch was on hand so I could quiz him about this vintage’s tangible hike in quality from an already impressive base and one, I might add, that just bagged Cabernet of The Year in Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh’s just-released The Big Red Wine Book 2010/11.  Burch told me that he’s using the kit he bought for Marchand and Burch Pinot Noir (a wine he makes in collaboration with Burgundy’s Pascal Marchand).  This meant that, in 2008, Abercrombie fruit underwent even more rigorous selection across the vibrating sorting table, resulting in less petioles (leaf stalks), so finer tannins.  And the tannins are also finer because the wine was fermented in small, open topped stainless steel tanks with twice daily aerative pump overs.  There’s a little less new oak too (40% compared with 50% in 2007).  A gorgeous, elegant Cabernet – contact Howard Park’s importer Bibendum to find out when it will be available in the UK.

Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2009 (Clare Valley, South Australia) – I tasted this wine as part of a vertical reported here.  This was my stand out wine for the Clare Valley, amongst stiff competition.  Based on my earlier report about Grosset’s particularly shimmering Springvale Watervale Riesling 2009 here, 2009 is a cracking vintage for the Watervale subregion!  The Florita shows a very floral nose with exuberant tropical pink grapefruit. Similarly vibrant, the palate shows rose petal, lychee and very pure, sorbet-like grapefruit, pink and white.  Though the mid-palate is open and expressive, it finishes pithy and austere, suggesting a long life ahead.  Delicious.  The Wine Society currently stock the 2008 vintage, which costs £23.  Contact importer Negociants UK to find out when the 2009 arrives in the UK.