In this series I will be exploring the cellar doors and wines of the Great Southern from my recent trip to the very beautiful, absolute bottom left of the Australian mainland. For a change, we did this tour without arranging any appointments, which can be a good and a bad thing. Good in that you get a much more consumer centric opinion and can quietly critique the whole cellar door experience. Bad in that you can miss out on the best wines, though this occurred surprisingly little on this journey (lucky we didn’t go to the Yarra though).
Being the Christmas/New year period many cellar doors were heaving with visitors, coupled with some very hot Summer weather – which can test staff and deliver quite different tasting results…
First stop on the magical Great Southern adventure was Plantagenet. Unmissable in many respects as the Albany highway passes right through the middle of Mt Barker and Plantagenet is right smack bang on the highway at the start of the town.
In terms of a cellar door, its basically just a shed – a very industrial looking winery complex with a couple of vines trailed along one wall, as if to nod at the fact that it’s a winemaking facility. (The picture below is of me standing in front of said row. Note the sunshine: 32C+ at that point and its almost 5PM).
Mount Barker itself really is a very quite rural town. A couple of pubs and a fantastic, brand spanking new wood fired Pizza place (highly, highly recommended). Other than that it is quite unremarkable – unless you have a better understanding of the local Geography (and particular the local ‘Marri soils’), you would never even look twice at Mt Barker as a premium winegrowing region.
Plantagenet is unique in that it sources much of its fruit from contracted growers – which is fine for cheap & cheerful but quite surprising for serious premium wine – which could explain some of the quality variability over the years…
Onto the wines:
Plantagenet Riesling 2008
I was a big fan of the 2007 and whilst this is a good wine, it just didn’t do it for me. Big, powerful and driven by typical (for the label) acidity, the fruit itself feels a little broad – almost like some overripe fruit went into the blend. Would like to retry this one. 17
Hazard Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Simple, slightly sweet but pleasant style tropical style, with just enough acidity to carry it off. Really well made quaffer at an excellent price ($13 at cellar door, though I’ve seen this below $10 retail). 16.5
Omrah Shiraz 2006
A victim of the vintage no doubt. Leafy, just ripe and stretched it felt overextracted and stewed. No deal. 14.9
Plantagenet Shiraz 2005
Again this didn’t do it for me. A previous bottle seemed much more impressive than this example, which on this showing seemed big, meaty & beefy, with peppery, full bodied stewed red fruit. A little flabby to my tastes.17-
Plantagenet Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
As is often the case with Plantagenet, its often the case that the Cabernet is the better red (though not every year – the 04 Cab is much lesser than the 04 Shiraz). This is distinctly leafy cool climate Cabernet showing all the trademark cool climate Cab characters – Cassis, a bit of Eucalypt, dark chocolate & some leafy herbal stuff. The palate is long, tight and holds plenty in reserve. Happy cellaring life ahead. 17.5+
After this somewhat disappointing (relative to expectations) experience, we left Plantagenet and ventured across the road to the very welcoming pool..