I'm attempting a bit of spring cleaning this weekend, and I figure that the best place to begin is the small mountain of tasting notes that are piling up on my desk. The vacuuming can wait for another day....
The following wines then were sampled at a 'Top 18 tasting', featuring medal winning wines from the 2010 Boutique Wine Awards, a wine show (of sorts) focused on boutique (crushing less than 250/t per annum) Australian and NZ wineries. What this means is a wine show full of quirky, unusual and variable wines from lesser known wineries. It's like a vinous discovery mission, with the reward of unearthing some genuinely worthwhile wines as a result (Speaking of results, the full 2010 Boutique Wine Awards results are here).
But a quick caveat with these notes: The event itself was held in mid 2010, so vintages have rolled over and the wines probably look completely different now (or not). Judging by the proliferation of plus signs on my notes, this probably isn't such a bad thing though.
Oh and all the wines were tasted with the bottle in front of me and at tasting speed, so scores are occasionally rough and notes are a little staccato styled. I've included a little current commentary at the end, as I'm largely just copying things out of my trusty Marbig.
Aramis Sparkling Syrah 2005 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
Bronze medal and Top in (Sparkling Red) Class
Puzzling perhaps why this carries the 'Syrah' tag when it is obviously Australian Shiraz styled. Regardless, it's loaded with chocolate sweet oak in a rather sweet oak generous style. There is some varietal pepper in there too which is pleasing, and the palate is nothing if not full bodied. The result is entirely pleasant, if massively oaky. 16.8/89
Wandin Valley Reserve Semillon 2009 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Silver medalSoft and quite forward nose with plenty of green fruit, palate carries no shortage of fruit intensity, with a softly acidic, grassy palate. The acidity is classic, natural stuff though and I've got a suspicion that the fleshy palate will look better with age. (Probably right in the groove now). 16.5/88+
Pokolbin Estate Ken Bray Semillon 2009 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Bronze medalBlue bottles are so hot right now. Or something. This though is all citrussy acidity, with a palate that carries a strong citrussy tang. Palate is quite tight and acid driven at the moment and looks to be in a transitional stage. A little hardgoing and overly simple as a result. Sure to improve. 16.2/87+
First Creek Winemakers Reserve Semillon 2009 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Carries that slightly sweaty, green pea Semillon development character that is a polariser. Some passionfruit too. Palate is chalky and dry with prominent acidity. Very prominent. Rather serious style that is all about potential 17.3/90++ (Would like to see this now!)
Shaw Vineyard Premium Riesling 2009 (Canberra)
Gold MedalFull, floral, melon and lemon nose is rather classic warm year Canberra (in the best possible way). Fleshy and slightly sweet palate looks generous and appealing, if a smidgen simple. Nice drink though. 17/90
Bream Creek Riesling 2008 (Tasmania)
Quite a sweet nose of fruit tingle generosity. Palate has a quite good balance between acidity and sugar. Nice balance here. Hint of late picked fruit? Nice wine. 17.3/90
Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2009 (Clare Valley, SA)
Gold medalHugely limey and powerful nose, over a firmly structured, rather classical palate. Lovely acidity. Serious wine, if in a slight hole right now. Nice grip indeed. 18/93
Ross Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Orange, NSW)
Silver medalSharp nose, jagged palate. Vaguely metallic and a fraction hard. Firm if nicely defined. Raw and a little awkward. 15.8/86
Coward & Black Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Margaret River, WA)
Gold medal & Top in Class
Lovely cut grass nose. Big, firm and grassy palate. Shedloads of acidity. Acid overdose. In amongst all that acid it looks pretty good. 17/90 (would probably look even better now)
Tallis Dookie Hills Viognier 2008 (Upper Goulburn Valley, Vic)
Silver medalA broad, fatty wine with a surprisingly thin finish. Tastes cheap. 15/83 (Dookie can do much better than this).
Kerner Estate Pinot Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ)
Silver medal & Top in ClassLovely honey mush perfume. Love that nose. Palate doesn't quite match it, with a general lack in intensity. Really like that nose however. 17/90 (Watch this space. Would like to try a more recent vintage).
Centennial Reserve Chardonnay 2008 (Southern Highlands, NSW)
Gold medal & Top in ClassOak, very fine white fruit and acid. Gritty acidity at that, with bubblegum lees character. Nice acidity, this only needs a fraction more age for the richness to catch up with the winemaking. Nice long finish. Potential. 17.5/91+ (This probably looks fabulous now).
Tassell Park Private Bin Chardonnay 2008 (Margaret River, WA)
Classic Margaret River nose of Melon and flint. Quite a bit of gummy oak but solid acid throughout. I like the form below that acid. 17.7/92
Charles Sturt Winery Chardonnay 2008 (NSW)
Gold medalCheap, broad straw nose. Chubby and clumsy palate. Simple quaffer with a puzzling medal. 14.8/82
Lenton Brae Wilyabrup Chardonnay 2009 (Margaret River, WA)
Gold medalOak, funk, peach. Lots of Chardonnay goodness on that nose. Rich but firm and weighty palate. Flint meets melon balance of richness vs acidity. Clear and precise. Really nice. 18.3/94 (typically worthy stuff this).
Ironwood Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (Porongorups, Great Southern, WA)
Gold medalSome raw and overt creamy oak on the nose shade what is obviously some very fine fruit. With time this should be top shelf indeed. 17.1/90+ (I wonder if Rob Diletti made this? Certainly has the hallmarks. Would love a retaste).
Phillip Shaw No.11 Chardonnay 2008 (Orange, NSW)
Gold medalMealy and very serious nose showing absolute top shelf oak. Bags of wonderfully firm natural acidity. Unforced and rather fine. Very good indeed. 18.4/94 (Really liked this)
Greedy Sheep Rosé 2010 (Margaret River, WA)
Silver medal & Top in Class
Musk and redcurrant on the nose in a pretty and estery style. Light and fun red musk palate. Not serious but entirely pleasant. 16.4/88
Limbic Pinot Noir 2009 (Port Phillip, Vic)
Jammy red fruit nose in the slightly stewed modern warm ferment style. Sappy palate is something of a surprise after the luscious nose, but it seems to work quite nicely. Like the dry, stemmy tannins on the finish too. Good. 17.2/90
Rockburn Pinot Noir 2008 (Central Otago, NZ)
Gold medal & Top in ClassPlush, overt and juicy Otago style. Really fleshy and upfront, though ultimately a little simple for mine. Should build a little more complexity with bottle age. 17.3/90+
Portsea Pinot Noir 2008 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)
Gold medalReally simple red fruit style, with a stewed and slightly hot finish. Not enough delicacy really. 16.5/88
Maude Pinot Noir 2007 (Central Otago, NZ)
Gold medalConcentrated, spicy, red musk nose, over a palate that is slightly cooked and quite flat. Way too warm on the finish. 16/87 (I first tried this 2 years ago and loved it. Had it again on Thursday and was again disappointed. Going into it's shell perhaps?)
Saracen Shiraz 2008 (Margaret River, WA
Gold medal & Top in Class
Rather candied and quite simple nose that shows some mixed ripeness characters. Palate too is raw, leafy and short, showing little to get excited about. 15.8/86 (Admittedly I rarely enjoy Margaret River Shiraz so it's perhaps of little surprise I'm no fan of this).
Paracombe Shiraz 2006 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Gold medalMenthol and eucalypt all through the nose. Herbal and drawn palate tastes of classic uneven ripeness. Raw finish. Not quite. 16.3/87
Mount Burrumboot Shiraz 2005 (Heathcote, Vic)
Gold medalRather classic red dirt nose over a rather nice chocolatey palate. Only downer is the hot and hard finish. Everything else is hardy and rich. 16.7/89
Brindabella Hills Shiraz 2008 (Canberra)
Gold medalWild and rather pretty, gumleaf and jelly beans nose over a delicious, generous red fruit palate. I really rather like the delicacy of this wine, though it's not quite as perfect as the standard 07. 17.7/92
Brindabella Hills Reserve Shiraz 2008 (Canberra)
Silver medalVery pretty nose, but with an extra dimension of intensity behind it. I really like the silken red fruit on the palate here. So mid weight and lovely. 18.3/93
Mantra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Margaret River, WA)
Gold medalLovely goldilocks nose with both herbal varietal characters as well as some rather luscious purple fruits. A genuinely approachable and pure fruit style. Lovely easygoing flow through the whole package. If I had to pick up anything I'd say this is maybe a fraction warm? Minor quibble though really. Superb booze. 18.3/93
Flints 'Gammon's Crossing' Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Coonawarra, SA)
Silver medalFlabby and quite broad nose. Palate too is just a little cooked and dried out. It's certainly still drinkable mind you, but I just wanted more freshness. 16.5/88
Heaslip Shiraz Cabernet 2008 (Clare Valley, SA)
Bronze medalLove the nose on this. Choc eucalypt Clare goodness in a minty and regional form. Super intense choc mint palate. Real depth. Out of nowhere this one! Wow! 18/93 (I was clearly taken with this. Very keen for a retaste, especially as it is only $140 a dozen...)
Tassell Park Cabernet Merlot 2005 (Margaret River, WA)
Gold medal & Top in ClassNose smells like proper Margs, complete with a hint of herbs for good measure. Palate is a fraction warm, round & shapeless though. Looking for more definition I think. 16.7/89
Hahndorf Hill Blaufrankisch 2008 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Gold medal & Top in ClassRedcurrant & peach nose looks particularly skinny. Fleshy, young vine palate lacks depth. Very light and simple palate. Not quite there really. 15/83 (I'm comparing this to Austrian Blaufrankisch, which probably isn't entirely fair. Still, I'm not convinced)
Coolangatta Estate Tannat 2009 (Shoalhaven, NSW)
Gold medalMassively dense, blocky fruit nose. Dry, earthen and tannic palate, with loads of oaky dry extract. Just a bit hard for big love I think. 16.8/89
Regate Cabernet Franc 2008 (Margaret River, WA)
Herbal, grassy, redcurrant nose is pure Cabernet Franc varietal stuff, followed by a lightly tannic, slightly vegetal palate. It's angular perhaps but also fun, with the definition appreciable. Liked this. 17.4/91
Paracombe Malbec 2008 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Gold medalGreen bean, more redcurrant and even some green tomatoes on the spicy, herbaceous nose. Borderline green tannins on the palate but the definition is admirable. Nothing if not interesting. 16.5/88
Protero Merlot 2007 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Silver medal & Top in ClassVolatile nose shows mixed ripeness characters flicking between greenness and fleshy richness. Full and quite bold palate is more solid, but it just falls away a smidgen on the finish. 16.5/88 (Hard vintage showing through here)