Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sydney International Wine Competition 2009 - The Reds

Best to start here

This is the rose, red & fortified continuation of the notes from the Sydney International Wine Competition 2009 Tasting, separated by category.

As usual, these notes are done at relative speed, so the notes are more qualitative & less quantitative....

Category 7 Rose Wines
One clear winner here!

Dal Zotto Rosato 2008
Trophy winner. Lovely pink colour, the nose has typical red fruit but also a little creaminess which adds interest. The palate is perfectly dry but with quite generous fruit on the palate, making for a rather balanced wine indeed. Very good! 17.8

Logan Hannah Rose 2008
Strawberries & cream on the nose, this is a lovely richer & pinoty style that is mouthfilling, if a little fat. Quite drinkable (excellent labelling too). 17.1

Symphonia Wines Tempranillo Rosata 2008
Meaty, leathery, Tempranillo nose. Sweet, slightly feral, lunch meat & cherries on the palate. OK, if just a little meaty for real attraction. 16.1

Category 8 Pinot Noir Wines
Watch out Australia! Not one Aussie Pinot in amongst the points here....

Bald Hills Single Vineyard Pinot 2007
Truffle, mushroom & beef on the nose, the palate is quite grippy & savoury with excellent proportions. Superb pinosity. Delicious. The first of many excellent 07 South Island Pinots. 18.3

Bald Hills Single Vineyard Pinot 2006
Drier, more dull & backward nose than the 07, the palate has a spicy acid tang but it all falls away by the finish. Massive step down. 16.7

Blind River Pinot Noir 2007
Beautiful, obvious, choc berry nose. Noticeable oak & rich plumpness of Raspberry fruit. Very drinkable & pure. 18

Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir 2007
Apparently just pipped at the post for best Pinot here. Excellent pinosity. Distinctive regional characters. Slightly stewed, red fruit nose, the palate has high acid & a tangy, spicy palate, with a sinewy finish. Bitter tannins, but no astringency. Superb structure & line. Very convincing. 18.6

Drumsara Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007
Worthy trophy winner. Lovely opulent nose that has the perfect expression of density & power, plus the femininity that Pinot does so well. High acid doesn't intrude onto very pretty red palate. Simply lovely. Great value too, all things considered. Now to find some. (Which is actually quite hard unless I want to ship it from NZ). 18.7

Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir 2007
What has happened to Gibbston Valley? The prices have gone up, yet the quality has gone down..Upfront, sweet fruit, very simple. No complexity. Still a good wine, but missing something.. 16.5

Peregrine Pinot Noir 2007
Rather simple nose is a direct contrast to the palate which is quite long, meaty and surprisingly chewy. Nice tannins. The whole package grows on you with more time in the glass. Hold. 17.5+

Van Asch Pinot Noir 2006
Again showcasing the vast gap between the 06 & 07 wines. Slightly sweaty nose, the palate is rich & very dense but also muddy & soupy. Ok only. 16.2

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2007
Stick aside your Villa Maria prejudices and just enjoy this. Polished, bright & open nose, similarly open, sweet fruited & juicy palate of big fruit, plenty of oak, and lots of ripe Marlborough fruit. Hard not to appreciate really. Winning price and freely available. 18.3

Category 9 Lighter Bodied Dry Red Wines

Blackjack Shiraz 2005
Hardly light bodied but a winner all the same. Rich, choc-formic, choc bullets oak Bendigo nose. Very ripe, very sweet & tarry palate. Lots of sweet cocoa berry fruit, so lush & charming and never feels heavy or too ripe. Very youthful. Delicious. 18.2

Kangarilla Road Primitivo 2006
Light red colour. Stewed, bitter & alcoholic palate. Strained, hot & lacking in fruit. 14.9

Kangarilla Road Shiraz 2006
Whats going on Kangarilla? Another disappointment. Big, sweet oak nose, nice & rich dark fruit, finish though is bitter and overly alcoholic. 16.0

Kilikanoon Medley GSM 2006
Nice, candied Grenache dominant nose, sweet cinnamon & star anise complexity. Nicely layered & well put together. The ideal GSM blueprint, if not overly intense. 18

Kirrihill SVS Baile An Gharrai Shiraz 2006
Furniture polish, rum & raisin icecream & blackcurrant & mint patties on the rather delicious nose. Very clean & polished palate that tastes mid weight and interesting. Very good. 18.1

Mission Estate Jewelstone Syrah 2007
Oaked blackberry juicy nose with a liberal dash of pepper. After this it falls down a bit, becoming hollow through the middle, before picking it back up again on the tail. Halfway there. 16.8

Old Mill Estate Touriga Nacional 2007
Sweet & quite fresh berry nose, juicy, spicy, savoury, hemp & leather palate that is unusual and unsurprisingly gamey. Interesting, with real potential for future vintages. 16.9.

Paxton AAA Shiraz Grenache 2007
A rather big step down from the 06, this is simply too sweet - like sucking on a cherry ripe. 07 SA vintage strikes again! 16+

Sanguine Estate 'Estate' Shiraz 006
Typically Heathcote big, ripe and plush palate. Alcohol derails the finish. Nice enough, if unremarkable. 16.9

Category 10 Medium Bodied Dr Red Wines

Anvers Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Simple nose, one dimensional palate. Its obviously very tight & youthful, yet it seems to lack the stuffing or interest to really convince. 16.8+

d'Arenberg The Galvo Garage 2006
Tight, densely packed nose, very ripe and full palate, with firm blackcurrant of impressive length. All it needs is time. Amazing to place the above wine next to this - so similar in style, yet the d'Arenberg seems to be so much more dense, interesting & promising. 18+

Elephant Hill Hawkes Bay Reserve Syrah 2007
No elephant, just ham. Ignore the hammy nose & slightly sour edge to the palate, for underneath its a stalky, meaty red of good fruit purity. Good, but I'm a bit wary of the piggy smells on the nose. 16.8

Grove Estate Nebbiolo 2007
Cherry & musk on the very open nose, sweet & utterly upfront. But thats the problem. Its just simple fruit. Only very light tannins & distracting sweetness, barley recognisable as a Neb. No. 15.3

Langmeil 'The Freedom' 1843 Shiraz 2006
Sweetly oak & fruit crammed nose of limitless depth - old vine Barossa to the core. Really dense & chocolatey & long. Yum. Long, alcoholic, beautifully generous & textured palate. Lovely Barossan Shiraz, lacking only a smidgen of intensity on the finish. 18.4

Mission Estate Reserve Syrah 2007
Big step up on the standard Syrah. The nose is much more Northern Rhonish, leading to a slightly bitter, stalky palate that is tight, layered & stylish. Proudly mid weight. Very attractive indeed! 18.2

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2007
very youthful, freshly bottled like nose. Some horsey Tempranillo on the nose, but its all lost in the ripeness & the oak. Could be very good in time. 17++

Villa Maria Estate Reserve Syrah 2006
Lots of sweet oak on the nose, licoricey, dense, sappy & slightly palate. Good, but doesn't quite flow like it should. 16.8

Voyager Estate Shiraz 2006
Reticent nose, really closed. Savoury & deep palate. Firm, well structured & brooding. Lock it away in the cellar. 17++

Wirra Wirra The Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Black, warm McLaren Vale fruit yet with some obviously earlier picked, minty, more varietally correct fruit underneath. Thats the message here and its both sour and rich and rather satisfying (If you don't mind the minty edge). 17.7

Westend 3 Bridges Reserve Shiraz 2006
Sweet & sour black fruit on a big & juicy, very ripe palate. Its all quite one dimensional and somewhat alcoholic grape cordial, but thats detracting from the juiciness, which is still quite appealing. Should improve with age & a reasonable quaff at the moment. 16++

Blackjack Shiraz 2006
Sweet coconut & raspberry nose, loads of sweet fruit & oak. Same on the palate. Very youthful, but overly sweet. Such a different wine to the 05 tasted earlier. 16.8++

Category 11 Fuller Bodied Dry Red Wines

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
McLaren Vale cab to the core! You know the drill - its blackberry juice, hardly 'varietal', but so delicious and rich and moreish, all mid palate generosity & proper tannins. Its wine like this that win friends and influence people, with even the most jaded OZ critic happy to drink a glass on the side. Chunky, full bodied, even some leafiness in there too. Winner. 18+

Fox Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
An excellent wine to follow the Chapel Hill as they share so much, not the least of which is the 2006 vintage, which I think is a great one in McLaren Vale. This has more funk than the Chapel Hill on the nose and a stupidly tannic, beasty palate of monolithic proportions. After all that though, its actually again a very drinkable wine, if cast in a bigger mould than the Chapel Hill. Both wines are well worth a punt. 18+

Jacobs Creek 35th Anniversary Padthaway Shiraz 2005
Trophy Winner (& a Stodart winner from 06), I'm guessing this is Lawsons under a new label and given some special treatment. Whatever it is, its a winning wine. Intense, hugely sweet & oaky in that bright, musk sticks and iced coffee style, with some of the unusual florals and complexity that this famously unusual vineyard can produce. Very smooth. Huge. Almost too big & sweet fruited. 18.5

Kalgan River Ciprian Shiraz 2007
Trophy winner. Rubbery, young vine nose, a little Viognier? Sweet redcurrant in a very simple style. Average. 15.8

Mcwilliams 1877 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2004
Coonawarra Cabernet dominated by the smell of things. Quite conventional, dry, tobacco, leafy nose. Rather lacking in freshness & feeling dried out indeed. 16.9

Mitchelton Print Shiraz 2004
Stupidly heavy bottle. Some welcome bottle age has helped this become integrated & soft, with nice polished black fruit & sweet oak. The oak however feels a little green & harsh on the back palate. Might work itself out with time. 17.0+

Mount Cole Wineworks Fenix Rising Shiraz 2005
Big black ball of fruit power on the nose, extremely long, polished, sweet fruit palate. Lovely Grampians Shiraz. $40 and worth every cent. 18.7

Murray Street Vineyards The Barossa 2006

Strange nose. Licorice, red berry, cabbage, the lot. Palate is hot & confected. Both ripe & underripe. No. 14.5

Murray Street Vineyards Shiraz 2006
Dense, tight, chocolatey nose. Smooth blackberry fruit is noticeable ripe but enjoyably plush. Good, if a little overripe. 16.5+

Neagles Rock One Black Dog Cabernet Shiraz 2005
Seriously dense, its one black wine. Cast in that massively concentrated style that Leasingham was (previously) known for. You spit oak chips out when moving onto the palate, but I think it has the concentration to outlast the oak. Hold. 17++

Plunkett Fowles Upton Reserve Shiraz 2005
Huge bottle & theatrical wax seal. Huge, mega sweet oak nose, palate is suitable chunky & black fruited, with just an edge of bitterness to remind of its cool climate origins. Very polished. Good stuff. 18

Plunkett Reserve Shiraz 2005
How can the two come from the same maker? Stalky, green fruit & lots of pepper on the nose, palate is bitter yet also overripe. All over the shop. 14.5

Reschke Empyrean 2004
Very tight, quite herbaceous nose. Palate is really medium bodied and obviously built for age, but its also lacking in absolute stuffing & just a little too leafy. Should get better with time, however at the stupid $120 price few will take the punt to find out. 16.8++

Cat Amongst the Pigeons Nine Lives Barossa Valley Shiraz 2007
Picked up a big gong here, but it does little for me. Still, if you can pick it up for $14 its quite fair value. Jubey & youthful nose, the palate is slightly sour & rough. Not bad, but hardly great either. Another 07 Barossan dud. 15.0

The Old Faithful Wine Company 'Top of the Hill' Shiraz 2006
I picked this as McLaren Vale from the get-go. Its that distinctive & great. Just list the usual McLaren Vale Shiraz descriptors, they all apply - it's a dense, intense, cossetingly ripe Shiraz of unquestionable appeal. Great. 18.2

Category 13 Fortified Wines

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat NV
Richly honeyed & thick. Its a quite dry style - not as sweet as many other similar Muscats, which works quite well here. Very good & well priced too. 17.5

Mcwilliams Hanwood Classic Muscat NV
Much lighter & more youthful. Nutty oak nose & obviously younger material. Nice & fresh all the same though. 16.8

Morris Old Premium Liqueur Muscat NV
How do you score this? Simply put, this is one of the finest fortified wines in the world. Amazingly rich, super intense, with a finish that lingers for half an hour. Decadent. Magnificent. Aside from the very rare older Morris super special releases, this is hard to beat. The score reflects that. 19.5

Morris Old Premium Liqueur Tokay NV
The only challenge is spitting it out. Every taste reveals something new. Beguiling, Coffeed Tokay flavours. Unctuous. Unforgettably delicious. You get the drift. 19.5

Yaldara Reserve Muscat NV
Good effort. Nowhere near as astoundingly fresh as the Morris, nor as unctuous, yet its still lovely and rich. Good. Yum. 17.7


  1. Thanks for the very interesting run down. Two I've spent time with stand out-

    Chapel Hill Cab/Sav 06- loved the 05 and the 06. Agree it's not very varietal but it's damn delicous.

    Kangarilla Primitivo 2006- arghh! You are dead right in asking "What is going on...?". Have to add, they say the reason for changing Zinfandel to Primitivo (other than to confuse consumers, or pretend to be an exciting new variety?) is based on the stylistic differences. Well, I haven't drunk much real Primitivo but if this is it, I'll stick to the odd Zinf.



  2. Andrew, how did u taste these wines? Blind with food?

  3. Andy,

    I really should include that info at the beginning of the notes.

    This was tasted in a traditional standup scenario (at speed moving around the table going from wine to wine). Very little in the way of food, so more like a wine show style (except with the labels in front of you).

  4. "07 SA vintage strikes again!..."

    Is there a particular trait with the 07's or is just that they are 'generally not as good' as 06?

  5. Decca,

    I would say that on the whole, the 07 vintage SA reds remind me (as wine snobby as it sounds) of the 97's and seasonally they share some similarities. Both come from drought years with minuscule crops and a very mixed growing season.

    Both 97 and 07, to my palate, have a soft fleshiness to them, a ripe, somewhat structureless reliance on simple sweet fruit that sometimes tips over into overly sweet. The resulting wines will be short termers (IMHO) and don't have the structure, complexity or interest of the 06 before them and definitely not of the far better 04s & 05s.

    My 2 cents, but you just know when wineries like Wendouree don't make any wine from a certain vintage, that it was bound to be a challenging one..

    I am of course generalising, and there will be exceptions to the rule (Haven't tried any 07 Coonawarras yet) but early results have tended towards it being an 'average' year.


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