Christmas drinks #4: Flaxman, Petaluma, Mitchell Harris + Scarborough
Flaxman 'The Stranger' Shiraz Cabernet 2009 (Barossa, SA)
14%, Screwcap, $35
70% Barossa Valley (Roennfeldt Road) Shiraz, 30% Eden Valley Cabernet. Matured in French and American oak for 15 months. Open ferment, pigeage, minimal pumping and extended time on lees. No filtering or fining.
I love quoting the Flaxman wine 'recipes', as the wines always sound so promising (and they very rarely disappoint either). This 2009 version of The Stranger is looking a little too young at present, but the framework is 'all there'. A little patience should go a long way.
As a wine now though this is simply appealing, with a lovely, bright red fruit nose of pure warm year Barossan fruit, topped off with sweet choc vanilla oak, all set in an uplifted, ripe and immediately attractive way. The only downer is that the oak looks a little heavy and charry, sitting on top of the fruit somewhat. That's not really helped by a palate that is locked down tight, with black fruit pastilles the only character really peeking through on what is a medium bodied, unforced and finely tannic palate. It's not an unattractive tight, but you're ultimately left wanting more to marry up to that oak.
Viewed as a whole, this wine is nothing if not promising, carrying a balance and clarity that is entirely enjoyable. All it needs is a little more (time induced) integration. 17.5/91+
Petaluma Coonawarra Merlot 2006 (Coonawarra, SA)
14%, Screwcap, $78.95
Proper Merlot this, in the classic sense of the word. Proper Coonawarra Merlot that is, for that edge of red dirt is quite a Coonawarra giveaway.
So what exactly is a proper Coonawarra Merlot? Well, in this instance it's all about dusty, 'I can't believe there isn't some Cabernet in there' blackcurrant aromas, over a palate that is both fat through the middle and firmly tannic through the finish. In fact, it is said dry grainy tannins that had me coming back for more. That's Coonawarra for you.
Nice, savoury dry red with plenty still to give to give. Good. 17.8/92+
Mitchell Harris Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Pyrenees, Vic)
13.5%, Screwcap, $24.95
Out of barrel I really liked this wine. Liked the elegance, liked the line, liked the tannins. But now, in bottle, I just don't quite feel the love. A dumb phase perhaps? Or simply that I just don't like the final blend? I'm backing the former.
Eucalypt, roasted meat and red fruit. It's a typical Pyrenees nose, with a hint of mint in there too. But it also smells skinny and semi sweet, missing the expressiveness of the 07 reviewed earlier in the year. Ditto the palate which is elegant and savoury with a fair line through the palate, but also a hardness and a lack of concentration.
Scarborough Late Harvest Semillon 2010 (Hunter, NSW)
9.5%, Screwcap, $20 (375ml)
A light and juicy style, this is all about freshness, resulting in a style that is friendly but not all that serious.
Light, if directly sweet nose, carrying no noticeable botrytis and swapping marmalade for lemon and quince in the process. Palate too is crisp, light and playful with good acidity. All it needs is more concentration. 16.5/88
Quintarelli Bianco Secco 2010 (Veneto)
1 hour ago