A two day mega tasting, this top event is always a winner – the masterclasses are well worth the trouble if you get the time. It gets a bit crowded in there after 4pm in though as the drunken city suits fill the place out.
I have had only limited experience with Savaterre, but it has a very illustrious reputation and rather serious prices. Mixed results here though
Savaterre Beechworth Chardonnay 2006 – Tight, boldy Chardonnay with a slightly unyielding palate that hints at serious potential. Impressive acidity, but at this stage this is a little awkward and desperately needs time. 17.5
Savaterre Beechworth Pinot Noir 2006 – Stalky, with a restrained nose. The palate is astringent, with harsh, bitter, stalky tannins. Yes its a mere baby, but the tannins on this were ugly and hard. Time will probably sort it out, but at the moment its a very unenjoyable drink. 15.5+
Hunter winery that produces some excellent Semillons
Mistletoe Home Vineyard Semillon 2008 – I love the nose on these Mistletoe Semillons, the extra lees contact gives it a little wild fragrance. The aromatics carry through onto the palate, which has excellent intense fruit, superb definition and lovely freshness. Yum. Love the acidity. 18.4+
Mistletoe Reserve Semillon 2007 – Its even more dense than the Home vineyard, with a hint of development on the nose. The palate is hugely intense with serious style and a solid core of acid driven fruit. Brilliant.18.5
Mistletoe Reserve Semillon 2005 – Its closing down now, the acidity is excellent, but its in the hole. Leave it. Hard to score this, as the potential is all there, but its not much of a drink at present.
Blackets Lenswood Vineyard
Now here is a story. I believe this is Tim Knappstein’s old Lenswood vineyard (the ownership seems a murky issue) and the wines are made by Tim under contract. The vines are now 25 yrs old (real maturity for the Adelaide Hills) and the prices are more than reasonable.
Blackets Gewurtztraminer 2007 – Lovely aromatic Gewurtz, big varietal nose, with an intense palate that matches sweetness with acidity. Nice. 17.6
Blackets Pinot Gris 2008 – This is boosted by a little Chardonnay and I think its all the better for it This is very young and pale, but the nice palate weight is very nicely judged. Great balance, nice drinkability, will look even nicer in a couple of months time. 17.4
Blackets Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – If you like Adelaide Hills Sauv, get onto this. Its a very pure, varietally correct Australian take on Sauvignon Blanc. The aromatics are grassy, with just a little passionfruit & citrus, the acidity and the grunt on the palate is quite remarkable. Very fresh and intense. 18.6
Blackets Chardonnay 2007 – It starts leanly and builds as the palate does. The oak is very smart and well handled, again great acidity. Needs some time. 17.3+
Blackets Pinot Noir 2007 – I’m not much of a fan of Adelaide Hills Pinot, but this is friendly enough. Its a sappy, syrupy style thats soft and a little oak dominated. My least favourite wine in this range. 17
Arlewood Margaret River
I was a little disappointed here – I expected and wanted much more. This was the first of the 08 WA whites I tried and the more I taste, the more I believe that the 08 WA whites need more time in the bottle than most other 08 examples from around the nation.
Arlewood Sem/Sauv 08 – Aromatic Sauv nose, palate is closed shut. time needed. 17.5
Arlewood Mars/Rousanne 08 – Closed, light peach and red apple nose, it has a tight red apple palate & a palate texture that is almost rubbery. I have ‘gum texture’ written on my notepad. This has been released too early for sure, as I think it will be a smart wine with some more time. 17+
Arlewood Reserve Sauv/Sem 06 – From 06, the expectations here were high, the wine however is dominated by boring oak & barrel ferment characters. The palate is simple and oaky. Boring. 16
The range is mixed, but the high notes are very high.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2007 – Major disappointment. Baby sick on the nose (its almost like a porridge smell), the palate is round and innocuous. No. 15.6
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauv 08 – Very youthful, needs some time in the bottle, the nose is faintly grassy, the palate similarly light and tight. Its hard work at present actually. 17
Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay 2007 – For once, I think this is a baby Art Series Chardonnay. The nose is classic Leeuwin Chardy, the palate has excellent chewy length, with nice smart oak, it just needs some time in the bottle. 18+
Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay 2005 – It is a beast of a Chardonnay, with a intense, full nose and a palate that you can almost eat its that thick. Intensity plus and very long. Some heat on the finish is the only thing that prevents this getting top points. 18.9
Leeuwin Art Series Cabernet 2003 – I likey! No greenness, its lovely. Leather, old wood and spice on the nose, it kinda smells like old books, but not in a stale way – more like an aged Bordeaux way. the palate is spicy, curranty, gentle and savoury. Quite refreshing. 17.8
I have recently raved about this range, here I tasted the Chardonnay to complete the lineup. Well deserving of its big wrap from Halliday.
Brookland Valley Chardonnay 2005 – Aromatic, leesy nose w/ some struck match, leading to an elegant and complex palate. Very tasty. 18.3
I very much enjoy this range of wines, but that is mainly because of the lovely varietal purity. If you don’t like herbs in your wine, avoid these. The 06 reds are all leafy but surprisingly refreshing.
Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – Hugely pungent nose – its like Savvy on steroids, massively herbaceous with a powerful, dry palate. A little OTT, but still brilliant in its mould. 17.9
Stella Bella Sem/Sauv 08 – Surprisingly lacks the varietal intensity of the Savvy, its a little boring. 17
Stella Bella Chardonnay 06 – Creamy nose, the wine is oak derived and quite lean. Ok. 16.8
Suckfizzle Sem/Sauv 05 – Complex Sauv and oak aromatics, the long, rich palate has excellent length and flavour, but I really think this is a drink now proposition – it ends a little too rounded. Impressive enough drink right now. 18.3
Stella Bella Tempranillo 2006 – Not a bad interpretation of this variety, this has leather, spice and leafy character on the nose with a slightly rich palate. Dry, early drinker. 17.2
Stella Bella Shiraz 2006 – Lots of spice and white pepper, the palate has some green tannins, but its spicy and tasty enough. 17
Stella Bella Sangio Cab – Leafy nose again, the palate is very dry and savoury, but with refreshing acidity and purity. 16.8
Stella Bella Cab Merlot 06 – herbaceous, cedary nose, the palate is crammed with grippy tannins. Its a very cool climate style, but with nice depth. 17.1
Suckfizzle Red 2005 – Leathery nose, but the tannins are the story here – Massive tannins dominate, shading the fruit. If the tannins resolve there might be a nice wine underneath. 17
No surprises here – the Riesling and Malbec are the highlights
Ferngrove Cossack Riesling 08 – Closed, limey nose, the palate is soft and citrussy with hints of peach, but with lovely delicacy. Very drinkable, if a little light. 18
Ferngrove Sauvignon Blanc 08 – Light, crisp, lemon drop style. Very soft & lacks intensity. 16.8
Ferngrove King Malbec 2006 – Suffering a little in 06, this is leafy, with licorice spice and a nice, meaty, small berry laden palate. Interesting wine 17.3
Madfish Riesling 2007 – Very gentle, soft style with some toasty development. The palate is surprisingly round and forward. 16.9
Howard Park Riesling 2007 – Clearly follows the Madfish Riesling, but the nose is more backward. the palate is the key here, with an intense, grunty and slightly phenolic palate. 18
Howard Park Chardonnay 2006 – Toasty, leesy, oaky nose, the palate is long and vanilla drenched, with real intensity. Seems a little overoaked. 17.4
Madfish ‘Gold Turtle’ Shiraz 2005 – Oaky, chocolatey nose. Oaky rounded palate with just a hint of leafy spice. Soft, leathery and a little one dimensional. 17.1
Howard Park Leston Cabernet 2006 – Apparently no Scotsdale in 06, so this carries the flag. Leafy, typical 06 nose, similarly it is framed in a forward, early drinking style. Refreshing, but ultimately light. 17
Howard Park Cab Merlot 2004 – Brilliant. The nose is so deep and alluring, with limitless brambly fruit, the palate is long, sour and deep. Long, chewy palate and real length. Top class. Will only get better. 18.8+
Anyone notice the reds don’t seem to get as much press as they used to?
Plantagenet Riesling 07 – Most backward of the 07 WA Rieslings, this has citrus on the nose, but its tight and the palate is intense and phenolic, with grippy power. A stayer. 18.3
Plantagenet Shiraz 2005 – The nose is meaty, the palate follows suit, its meaty, powerful and savoury. Its a little oak dominated at the moment, but its still luscious and very tasty. 18
Plantagenet Cabernet 04 – From a lesser vintage and it shows in this company. Nice leafy varietal nose, the palate is quite lean with firm tannins. Pleasant, well defined and good varietal intensity. Needs time. 17.6
None of their top wines on tasting. Poor form in this company
Langhi Cliff Edge Shiraz 06 – Light, cherry & choc milkshake nose, the palate is quite moreish and drinkable, but the back end feels light and stripped. 16.9
Five Oaks Cab Merlot 05 – Meaty, slightly pooey nose. The palate is chewy, savoury yet rather ungenerous and unbalanced. 15.9
Five Oaks SGS Cabernet 05 – A light Yarra Cab nose, the palate is thin, withdrawn and lean. 15
I like Sergio Carlei’s wines – character aplenty, even if it doesn’t always work
Green Vineyards Chardonnay 2005 – Funky, yeasty nose thats big and brassy. The palate is also developing and getting a little chubby around the waist. 16.2
Carlei Chardonnay 05 – Another wild yeast funk nose, this is deeper & richer, long & complex, but again the palate has some slightly unattractive development. 17.2
Carlei Pinot Noir 2005 – Lovely funky, fragrant nose, the palate has lovely length & style in a skinsy frameset, Its very nice and will make for a very good duck wine. 18.3
Poverty Hill Riesling 2008 – God I love young Clare and Eden Riesling. So pure and simply delicious. this has lovely lemon and melon on the nose, with a clean, crisp palate, if a little on the light side. Nice. 18.1
Poverty Hill Riesling 2004 – It is unquestionably in the hole right now, with a clean, toasty nose, the palate is soft and light. Pleasant enough. 17.1
David Cross’s wines are really very enjoyable and great value. Lovely bright, vibrant fruit.
Winter Creek ‘Second Eleven’ Grenache Shiraz 2007 – A lovely, bright young wine, with this beautiful purity of ruby fruit. Delicious & amazing value. 18
Winter Creek ‘Old Barossa Blend’ Grenache Shiraz 2005 – With more grunt than the Second Eleven but with the same refreshing fruit. The Grenache here seems to give the fragrance, with the Shiraz giving the palate weight. Delicious. 18.5
Winter Creek Shiraz 2004 – This was actually my least favourite wine of the range, with a meaty pong that seemed to detract from the nice Shiraz fruit. 17
Winter Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006 – A pre-release sample, this has huge oak and huge fruit. Very chocolatey at the moment, it will settle down to something rather tasty. 18+
The Yard Frankland River Shiraz 2006 – I have previously raved about Larry Cherubino’s wines, but this was worth a revisit. Licoricey fragrance, the palate is lovely, brambly and dense, with long, perfectly formed black fruit. Stylish and frankly delicious. 18.5
B3 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005 From the Basedow family, this was peppery, simple and finished with heat. Strangely unbalanced, with obvious alcohol and disjointed fruit. 16.9
B3 Cabernet Shiraz 2005 – Major disappointment. Dark fruit and surprisingly bitter, similarly unbalanced. 16.5
EDITORS NOTE: Blackets range retasted 29/09/08
Blackets Sauvignon Blanc 2008: The colour is more on the straw side of the fence, hinting at this more complex style. The nose is slightly sweaty but not reductive, with grassiness the focus (no tropical fruit, just a little passionfruit & lemon). The palate is layered and intense, with powerful grassy fruit the key, washing through the palate in waves of fruit flavour. Phenolic grip to finish. Powerful, impressive Aussie Sauvignon Blanc. 18.7
Blackets Gewurtztraminer 2008: Musky floral nose tending to lemon juice. The palate is spicy palate that has a real musky grip to it. Firm finish. There was some holes in the palate of this one though, it really needs some more time in the bottle to flesh out. No questioning the intensity though. 17.3+
Blackets Pinot Gris 2008: Green green colour, the nose is closed with just some pear fruit escaping. The palate has light to medium bodied green apple flavours, tending to that Pinot Gris pear like softness on the palate. Good texture if a little light, this is also in need of some time in the bottle. 17.1+
Blackets Pinot Noir 2007: Nowhere near as sappy as the previous sample, this seemed more oak softened, with a vanilla edge to the eucalypt and cherry nose. The palate also seemed a little oak shadowed but backed by searing acidity. The palate fnishes dry, stalky (integrated deep stalkiness though and faintly hot. Its a bit of a struggle at the moment, but this will be one very long lived wine. 16.9+
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