The following notes come from Wine Focus Australia – a boutique skewed wine exhibition held annually at Sydney’s MCA that regularly throws up interesting tastes & experiences.
The main drawcard for this event then was a Savignin (née Albarino) masterclass which I will report on later, with the wines below just some of the other wines on offer.
Plantagenet Riesling 2008
Back in January this was a tight, confused, work in progress. 9 months later and its still tight, but now blessedly so. It’s a big, bone dry Rizza that smells of granite and lemon, backed by a powerfully grippy palate of maximum acid driven power. Awesome potential, this really deserves a spot in my cellar. Drink: 2012-2018+. 17.8/93+
Yarrabank Cuvee 2004
Struggling with the vagaries of the vintage, I thought this smelt tinny, stemmy and dull on the nose with lovely yeasty overtones the only saving grace. The palate hardly improves the situation with a slightly fat and lemony expression of ageing fruit. Ugly, awkward acidity. Drink: Now. 15.5/83
Yering Station Chardonnay 2006
Another Yering disappointment, this similarly dull, oak heavy Chardonnay smells fat and cheap on the nose, with a palate that is clumsy and woolly. A very poor showing for this former top value drop. Drink: Now. 15.2/81
Xanadu Estate SSB 2009
Like the new Xanadu packaging – quite classy. This though felt like it had been bottled the night before, with grassy aromatics mingling with banana ferment esters leading to a tight, ill defined palate. Retaste required.
Xanadu Estate Chardonnay 2008
Okay, now a pattern is forming. This tasted less freshly bottled and more simply dull. Nutty, oaky nose and palate, crisp acidity the only highpoint. Drink: 2010-2012. 16.5/87
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2008
Obviously a step up from the standard bottling and, like the SSB, desperately in need of some time in the bottle. Volatile nose, this smells like expensive French oak and little else. The palate is similarly all acids and oak. Good wine in there somewhere (hopefully). Drink: 2010-2013. 16.5/87+
Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2003
Showing the perils of a less than ideal Semillon year (though a good one for Hunter Shiraz), this is a quite forward and grassy Lovedale, showing a typical straw and hessian over green apple profile that I don’t enjoy in developing Hunter Sem (Brokenwood gets the same character in its bottle aged Sem). Should get better with age, but still an average Lovedale. Drink 2012-2018. 16.6/88+
Mcwillliams Mt Pleasant Phil Ryan Signature Semillon 2007
Drawn from younger Lovedale vines, this had a creaminess to the citrussy nose that was quite surprising. The palate is very green, with that aforementioned straw character just beginning to creep in. At an awkward stage, but even less drinkable than the Lovedale above. Drink: 2012-2017. 16/86+
Taylors Jaraman Riesling 2008
Another vintage affected wine, this had a simple, developing and volatile nose over a mid weight palate. Tasting as if it was already falling into the Riesling hole, yet also with a touch of well ripe fatness to the mid palate this disappointed quite a bit. Falls away somewhat at the finish, but underneath everything, I think this may well emerge butterfly like eventually, as the intensity of the fruit on offer is actually pretty good. Important plus signs then . . . Drink: 2013-2018. 15.5/84++
Protero Viognier 2007
Clean & apricotty nose has light and well judged varietal characters, with the only thing missing is some fruit intensity. Nice flavours though. Drink: Now. 16.5/88
Chrismont La Zona Prosecco NV
Varietally correct sour green apple sparkler that shows how much potential this style has in Australia. Appealing and simple. 16.8/88
Chrismont La Zona Sangiovese 2006
Dry & savoury, this shares plenty of DNA with Arnie Pizzinis’s brother Alf’s Pizzini Sangiovese. It’s a dry, slightly rustic and savoury Sangiovese that tastes authentically savoury & meaty with dried berry flavours and excellent dry tannins. Really quite enjoyed this. 17.2/91
Mt Langhi Ghiran ‘Langhi’ Shiraz 2006
I may be one of the few Shiraz drinkers in Australia to say so, but I don’t particularly like this wine. Over the years the Langhi has been lauded from ever corner, from shows to journos, and I have never like it.
I feel different.
However, this release I can at least appreciate why people like it.
The nose is raisined and super ripe (no wonder I don’t normally like it), with a musky, stewed licoricey character to it that I associate with overripe grapes (my normal bugbear with the Langhi). The palate is similarly heavy, prunish and blocky with dense fruit driven flavours and unquestionable power, if served without charm. What saves it though is a chalky depth to said fruit flavours – a sign that underneath it all lies some pretty special grapes. So if I thus ignore the dead fruit overtones, underneath it I can see some beautiful richness and real quality.
Pity the rest of the wine gets in the way. Drink: Now – 2012+. 17/89
Nicholson River Chardonnay 2007
Like a comfortable pair of jeans this fat, smoky, oaky Chardonnay is hardly spotlessly clean, but it does feel familiar and generous and drinkable. I can imagine many a bottle of this being consumed by long time favourites & couldn’t help but draw some similarities with the Scarborough Yellow label Chardonnay too. I would drink this. Drink: Now. 17.5/91
Nicholson River Syrah 2006
Smoky, hammy and stinky this Northern Rhone styled red is built in a whole bunch, stalks and all, would-you-like-ham-with-that fashion that is bound to polarise. But underneath all that schtink lies some beautifully warm and savoury musky red fruit, in a medium bodied package that I could again imagine drinking (with smoked sausage pizza). Drink: Now-2012+. 17.4/91
Protero Nebbiolo 206
Again proving that the Adelaide Hills is a good place for Neb, this slightly stewed and caramelised fig scented wine has enough varietal correctness for drinking enjoyment, with only the muskiness of the very young vine fruit stopping a higher score. Lovely, authentic dry tannins too. One to watch. Drink: Now-2012+.17/90
Protero Gumeracha 2005
Surprise packet. Really impressive Merlot Cabernet blend in a powerful & almost Tuscan mould. Powerful, sappy red currant & eucalypt nose with a leafy and punchy palate of real structure. Liked this alot. Drink: Now-2014+. 18/92
Protero Gumeracha Merlot 2006
A purists Merlot, but also a step behind the blend (though the vintage hardly helps). Cherry, cloves and sappy just ripe fruit with another high acid palate. Just lacks that lit bit of intensity and thrust for higher points. Drink: Now-2014+. 17.3/91
Protero Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This could be the star wine from Protero. Savoury, black licorice and eucalypt leaf nose with a beef stock, leather and bramble palate of real gruff appeal. Really love the old world power here. Very good. Drink: Now-2015+.17.5/91
Longview Cabernet 2007
Sticky, simple, rich and forward this smelt quite confected, youthful and rather new worldish, adorned with a fair slathering of vanilla bean oak too. Palate shows all the polish and super smooth oaky flavours expected, coupled with some nice tannins. Just a bit one dimensional for me. Drink: 2010-2013+. 16.7/88
Longview Yakka Shiraz 2007
Very obvious, upfront and powerful, this is bound to win friends. Big hit of grape Hubba Bubba characters on the nose announce the Viognier presence, as does the purple colour. Very pretty, lush and smooth palate is sweet and crowd pleasingly ripe, with an amarone-ish, concentrated ripeness to the edges. It’s hardly a subtle or sophisticated wine, but it does pack lots of flavour for the very meagre ($26) pricetag. Definitely a recommended buy for fans of smooth and rich reds, the score is a nod to its hedonism. Drink: Now-2015. 18/93
Château Tanunda Lyndoch Shiraz 2007
Reeling from the dud vintage, this still shows excellent Barossa fruit characters, even if the structure is rubbish. Classically big, oak & formic black fruit nose, backed by a sweet and sour palate that is kirsch-ish and confected, the flavours a jumble of under and overripeness. It’s hot & cold, sweet & sour and ultimately missing some important pieces. Drink: 2010-2015. 15.5/86