Riesling – well just a little soft-focused at times – off piste with some other varieties

I stuck fairly religiously to Riesling on my April 2008 trip (and never tired of it – a real testament to Aussie Riesling), however inevitably, some other wines snuck in there – here’s a selection of some of my favourites.

Kilikanoon Blocks Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
– perhaps unsurprising given the region’s facility with Riesling, Clare Valley produces well defined reds thanks to good balancing acidityand this is no exception – lovely freshness, fruit purity (blackcurrant and berry) and precision.  An elegant wine.

Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz 2005 –
a creamy, yet fresh Shiraz whose supple plum palate is enlivened by a kick of sechuan pepper – very good.

Mitchell Semillon 2002 – 50% barrel fermented and aged for 12 months in new French oak this is a structured, sophisticated Semillon with an enticing lemon curd nose, though the palate is much tighter  than expected with hints of toast – a keeper.

Mitchell Shiraz 1998
– savoury, evolved wine with dark berry and plum fruit and a bloody, mineral, iron undertow – lovely.

Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 – beautiful purity of blackcurrant fruit, still fresh on the nose with delicate cedary notes on the palate; ripe, fine tannins.  Very smart.

Mount Horrocks Shiraz 2006 – lovley smoky bacon notes on nose and palate accompany plum and blackberry fruit; very attractive supple tannins.

Mount Horrocks Shiraz 1996
– mid-weight Shiraz with fleshy blackberry, freshly ground black pepper, textured tannins and a savoury, bloody note to the finish – Stephanie Toole’s accomplished first Shiraz shows her love of Cornas.

Jeffrey Grosset Gaia 2005
– intensity without density, with ripe blackcurrant/cassis, black olive and subtle herbaceous notes.  Fine grained tannins complete the picture.  Very well made.

Jeffrey Grosset Gaia 1996 – finely yet firmly framed Bordeaux blend from one of Clare’s highest vineyards on a rocky, remote, steep slope – delicate with intense, well-defined blackcurrant fruit and cedar.  Lots of finesse.

Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
– a spicy, dark Cabernet with dense cassis and liquorice; well balanced with firm, ripe supporting tannins.

Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
– a powerfully concentrated, muscular Cabernet with liquorice and spice –  plenty of go yet!

Tim Adams Semillon 2006
– rich and toothsome lemon meringue pie with a balancing herbal undertow and veneer of fine, smoky French oak.

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 1994 – savoury, developed nose and palate with blackcurrant and leather framed by chalky tannins; long intense finish shows damson and liquorice.

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 2004 – very concentrated, pure blackcurrant well supported by a lively thread of acidity and a firm backbone of tannin – a keeper.

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 1994 – tight nose with a firm but ripe palate of earthy blackcurrant, plum and damson with liquorice and spice.   Good balancing freshness.

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 1996
– terrific purity and depth of red and black fruits supported by sweet oak and grainy tannins; savoury, long finish.

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 1998 – tight knit but you sense there’s a real heft to the fruit here – despite a decade under its belt, it’s still has a raw energy with eucalypt hints.  Stash this one away.

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 2004 – a sweet, malty oak dominated nose belies a high octane mass of sweet, ripe, dark fruit on the palate – like being hit over the head with a shovel (in a good way!?!) such is its presence.  Strong supporting tannins – do not broach for a decade!

Yalumba Pinot Gris 2007
– rich, spicy poached pear nose and palate with a hint of pear skin; balanced, lemony acidity.

Yalumba Gewurtraminer 2007
– delicate rose petal nose and palate with succulent lychee and spice; very good length and balance.

Goundrey G Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2007 – well focused WA classic blend with gunflint, green tea and thistle to Sauvignon’s fresh and vibrant sugar snap peas.

Frankland Estate Olmos’s Reward 2004 – described by winemaker Judi Cullam as “Bordeaux from the bush” this is a beautifully fresh, cool climate Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominated wine with succulent, perfumed blueberry to the fore and a spicy, curranty backdrop with hints of tobacco. Proper dry with bony tannins, it’s a great food wine.

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz 2004 – cool climate Shiraz with lifted violet and white pepper, juicy red and black fruits and a savoury twist of black pepper framed by ripe but textured tannins.

Castle Rock Estate Pinot Noir (Porongurups) 2006 –
crunchy cranberry, fleshy red cherry and  a hint of chocolate truffle make for a nuanced, finely framed Pinot – very good.

Forest Hill Block 8 Chardonnay 2005
– well balanced, textured Chardonnay with good depth of lively rock melon, golden delicious and grapefruit flavours, a hint of nougat and a kiss of smoky oak.

Burchett & Marchand Pinot Noir 2007
– a collaboration between Howard Park’s Jeff and Amy Burchett and Burgundy’s Pascal Marchand.  Though quite closed now it shows great promise with a real depth of cherry and bilberry fruit, lifted violet top notes and a structure informed as much by acid as its ripe, velvety tannin.

Larry Cherubino Shiraz 2006
–  very pronounced, meaty black pepper to nose and palate makes its cool climate credentials clear from the off and is wed to a great depth of succulent black fruits.  Well balanced with ripe tannins and a creamy texture.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
April 2008

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