Clare Valley tutored tasting

I fully expected to be bowled over by the highly accomplished Rieslings for which this region is famous, even the Shiraz, for Clare can count Jim Barry amongst its finest, however the stylish and characterful Cab Savs/Bordeaux blends were very pleasantly surprising.

Flight 1 – 2005 Riesling (a vintage of pristine fruit, reckoned to be the best since 2002)

Petaluma – floral nose with the exotic, spicy orange peel notes which I associate with this wine; relatively fleshy on the attack with stone fruits and orange peel undercut by lime and mineral notes which drive a long, focused finish.  Very good.

Grosset Polish Hill – this wine from “hard rock” shale consistently shows a slatey, mineral character on nose and palate; very tightly structured with a core of lime fruit, steely spine of acidity and touch of bath salts on a long, long finish.  A real keeper.  Terrific.

Grosset Watervale – limestone accounts for a more expressive floral, aromatic style on nose and palate.  Very good.

Crabtree Watervale – Watervale’s delicate floral nose with lime and an unusually spicy fennel/aniseed character.

Stringy Brae Wines – a deeper colour with fleshier, spicier orange peel – attractive, exotic style.  Very good.

Skillogalee Wines – great concentration of pear, lime and granny smith apple followed by a long, minerally finish.  Very good.

Annies Lane Coppertrail
– very clean, fruit-focused style showing pithy grapefruit and lime.

Flight 2 – Aged Riesling

Neagles Rock Reserve 2004 – salted limes on the nose and sherbetty palate, with its tingly acidity; honey and mineral hints on the finish.

Leasingham Classic Clare 2002 – vibrant grapefruit and lime peel dominate its quite austere, focused palate; opens up a little on the finish to show a pithy character with honey and mineral hints.  Good.

Kilikanoon Morts Block 2002 – toasty, smoky nose followed by a compellingly mineral, tight and focused palate with floral hints and bath salts.  Very good.

Mount Horrocks Watervale 2001 – a touch of kerosene over lime, grapefruit, toast and bath salts – plenty going on here. The fruit really resonates on the long, racy, slightly floral finish – excellent.

Wakefield St Andrews 2000 – developed nose and palate with acacia/beeswax/honey and toast notes; the palate has good weight of salted limes and tangy grapefruit and a pithy finish.

Mitchell’s Watervale 1992 – 1992 was a very good vintage and this is complex and long with kerosene, spicy orange peel, salted limes and perfumed bath salts.  Good.

Flight 3 – Shiraz

Clare Valley Shiraz typically combines a generosity of fruit with defined, sometimes angular acidity so it is distinctly different from its Barossa neighbour and closer in style to Eden Valley, another region which enjoys elevation and pronounced diurnal temperature variation.

Claymore Dark Side of The Moon 2003 – very flavoursome earthy style which put me in mind of the Hunter Valley with its saddle soap/linseed oils character.  Blackberry fruit with fresh liquorice and bright acidity.  Very good.

Jim Barry The Armagh 2002 – an inky depth of fruit exudes a sweet and seductive ripe cassis nose with vanilla sugar; gorgeous fruit purity on the palate with ripe, wild bilberry and cassis and a lick of vanilla.  French oak really buffs up the fruit; very attractive richly fruity yet poised, modern style.

Jim Barry The McRae Wood 2002 – more classic Aus with its eucalyptus and malt and grainier tannins (some US oak).  Generous mid-palate with spicy liquorice.

Tim Adams Aberfeldy 1996 – made from a vineyard planted in 1904 this is an earthy wine with a pronounced bloody, mineral, savoury character over raspberry, plum and chocolate fruit; grainy tannins and a touch of vanilla.  Very good.

Flight 4 – Cabernet Sauvignon

Sevenhills Cellars 2003 – restrained blackcurrant nose leads onto a dense, concentrated palate of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with textured but ripe tannins.  Very well knit, dry, quite austere style.  Very good.

Wakefield St Andrews 2000 – developed meat pan juice notes mingle with cedar and cassis on nose and a savoury, juicy palate.  Very digestible, food friendly wine.

Tim Adams 2002 – very polished, tight knit palate of cassis with menthol and herbaceous notes bodes well for cellaring given its ample fruit wed to well balanced acidity and tannins.

Grosset Gaia 2001 – long, rich and svelte with velvety tannins and a touch of eucalyptus to it cassis and blackberry fruit.

Grosset Gaia 2002 – the cooler vintage produces a firmly structured, finely fruited wine showing cassis, cedar and dried herbs.  Very good.

Leasingham Classic Clare 1999 – the nose and palate seamlessly meld developed earthy, porcini notes with violet and eucalyptus top notes and a rich seam of fruit.  A svelte structure make for a really attractive, rich yet finely constructed wine.  Very good.

Sarah Ahmed
The Wine Detective
January 2006

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