Chateau Tanunda – rare verticals of some well priced Barossans
‘I needed a chateau’
Who doesn’t need a chateau really? I do love that John Geber bought Chateau Tanunda on something of a whim (though it was probably more than that), just one day after first ‘discovering it’ by bicycle.
But it almost never happened.
Indeed this famous Barossa landmark – which was home to some of the first vines planted in the Barossa and one of the first wineries – was only weeks away from becoming a hotel.
There’s plenty more history that I didn’t know about this historical property. For instance, the ‘main’ Chateau was built in the midst of the depression in record time, once claiming the mantle as the biggest building in South Australia and the largest winery in the southern hemisphere.
Beyond the backstory, there’s definitely an air of rescue and revival about Chateau Tanunda. When I first landed in the wine industry, fifteen odd years ago, it was a bit of a forgotten relic, known more for the building and the brandy than anything to do with table wine. But since then the reputation of ‘The Chateau’ has definitely hit an upswing, even though it’s probably not at ‘top tier’ level quite yet.
This lineup then looked at four wines from the Chateau, covering off some of their most important styles (except for Grenache. Which I would’ve loved to see).
What was interesting to see was how the three modestly priced Grand Barossa wines fared. For a $25 RRP range, these age rather nicely indeed, if a fraction variable.Good value to be had for sure…
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling
Stuart Bourne, Chateau Tanunda winemaker and larrikin, was on hand for this tasting and happily dropped in some of his customary choice phrases.
Notably, he thinks that ‘Riesling has the lowest self esteem of any grape variety’, that ‘Like Jesus, I keep hearing about the Riesling revival. I expect Jesus to turn up with Riesling‘ or ‘What do you eat with Riesling? Nothing you just drink it. But oyster shooters are the way. Try them at home kids’.
He’s great value. The sort of winemaker who you’d love to go out for a few quiet (or not) drinks with.
His Riesling is better than his jokes, kicking off with this a blend of Barossa and Eden Valley fruit. As you can guess it’s perhaps a bit more full and round than some more classical pure Eden Riesling styles, but that doesn’t mean it lacks appeal. Personally, I’d drink these at three plus though – that seems to be the start of the sweet spot.
Reviews below are as written on the day. Extra thoughts from Stu are in Italics (and they’re typically good).
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling 2014
Translucent green. Open lime juice nose, very easy and juicy style. Perhaps a little broad but mouth filling. Generous style. 17.5/20, 91/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling 2013
Translucent green. A little (welcome) toast creeping in. Great natural acidity – very firm and briny. A big step up – nowhere near as broad as the ’14. It’s just a bit chubby on the finish, but excellent persistence. 17.7/20, 92/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling 2012
‘If you couldn’t make good wine this vintage consider the mining industry’
Light green straw. Lightly toasty, giving a little richness to the palate. Lovely balance here between the first lemon toast of age and that firm acidity. Balance looks better than the 13 too. Lovely wine! 18/20, 93/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling 2009
Green straw – still very green. Full toast here – a full and quite broad expression with just a whisper of honeycomb. There’s more slightly candied flesh here too, generous and even a little too forward. Soft acidity. Pleasant but not getting any better. 17/20, 90/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz
Typically a blend of Barossa Valley Shiraz with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A little disappointed by this bracket to be honest.
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2012
The lightest wine of the line in colour. Mid red. It’s almost Grenache like in its red fruit nose, with a carbonic like redcurrant. Dark red fruit palate has a hint of mint and stalks. Almost whole bunchy. Indeed it’s quite spicy and butter licoricey. Warm finish. Nice wine, if atypically spicy and light. 17/20, 90/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2010
Dark red, very dark ruby. Coffee ground oak jumps up out of the glass. Coffeed and slightly heavy palate, sour finish. Hard edge here and freshness a little lacking. 16/20, 87/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2009
Dark maroon. Slightly sweet and sour style, lifted up by sweet oak. Mixed ripeness rings true, but I think this will get better in time. Acid a little brutish on the back end. Hearty finish. Not bad and good depth, if raw. 16.8/20, 89/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2007
Maroon with bricking edges. Stewed plum and caramel style, forward and just a little cooked. Raw acidity too. Not much life left, drying tannins. Dessicated. Hard going. 15/20 85/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon
Barossa Cabernet can be most underrated.
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
‘A very small crop. But good’
Dark red and purple edges. Juicy berries, a plump style that is generous without losing grippy, hearty Cabernet character. This is good drinking now. Not complex, but packs in lots of drive and rich coffeed blackberry fruit. Good. 17.5/20, 91/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Another light coloured 2012. Mid Ruby. Slightly herbal, a curious menthol and leafy style that is so different (but varietal) compared to the wines around it. Interesting, atypical in its spiciness again. Might be greater in time. 16.8/20, 89/100+
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Mid red. Very juicy style – jubey back and red berries. Palate is generous and varietal, the tannins firm but not aggressive, the whole package quite complete. Lovely Barossa Cab. 17.7/20, 92/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Dark maroon colour. Milky chocolate oak here, along with quite concentrated fruit. Unquestionably a different wine, some of the caramel ripe fruit of the vintage but doesn’t look overly forward or hot. Acid sticks out a bit, but tannin dry end balances out. A good effort all things concerned. 16.5/20, 88/100
Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Dark maroon with a little bricking. Cedary bottle age and a little sweet and sour, some 06 mintiness here. Dark fruit; a little sour but fair wine. Certainly still varietal. Impressive for a $25 wine. 16.8/20, 89/100
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz
As the name suggests, this is made from vines at least 100 years old. As Stuart says, ‘these are soft and elegant wines deliberately. Soft, elegant and (with) intensity’. A big step up compared to the Grand Barossa Shiraz.
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2013
Mid red. Light edges. Sexy oak over a caramel and red berry palate, sweet and rich, it’s Barossan to the core, finishing just a little hot. Nice open fleshy form, the flow of fruit quite attractive and inviting. Very Barossan. Maybe a little warm, it’s still a wine of components – slow burn. Great concentration though. Quality undoubted. 18/20, 93/100
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2012
Mid red, the nose reflects the lightness of the Grand Barossa. Fudge oak and just a little bitter, carrying over the spiciness of the 2012 Grand Barossa but with more concentration and more oak. Still atypical, this may always be an outlier. 17.7/20, 92/100
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2010
Red purple and considerably darker than the 12: coffeed oak all through this wine; it looks a little desiccated and drying. Just a bit too forward given the vintage. 17/20, 90/100
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2009
Deep red; just starting to lighten on the edges. Coffeed oak sunk right into this wine. Classic plummy Barossan character, love the plush choc berry palate. Quintessential Barossa, complete with red fruit high notes and a little leather. Best wine of this lineup. Utterly classic. 18.5/20, 94/100
The Chateau 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2008
Dark blood red, darkest wine of this lineup. Sweet berries; no deswication of the vintage at all. Plums, a little soft and mature; would have been an oaky wine in its youth. Not quite the charmer of the 09, it just feels more like maturing Barossa Shiraz, if quality depth. Good 17.7/20, 92/100