Overripe and overdone or just a particular style?
That’s the question that rolling around my brain when I opened these new Bremerton super premiums.
Here’s a winery that has made its reputation on wines with expansive flavour, consistently delivering generosity and sometimes outrageous value (the Selkirk Shiraz and Coulthard Cab are QPR standouts).
The Bremerton Old Adam Shiraz 2014 & Walter’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 super premium releases then take everything up another notch. As ever, they’re voluminous, 14.5%+ alcohol, hearty, proudly old-school, cork-sealed, ‘blokey’ wines. Reds that deliberately turn the volume up on everything and wow with impact.
But the nagging thought I had while tasting both wines was that the volume might be up too high, leaving balance in the wake. I’m all for hedonistic wines – the magical, unending concentration and depth of the 2000 Three Rivers Shiraz (at 15.3% alcohol) can’t be doubted. Still, achieving balance when you have lots of everything is a challenge.
Conversely, once I stepped back from the tasting bench (aka my kitchen), I realised that maybe excess is as much of the recipe here as anything else, and I’m not the target market. That fans of Old Adam Shiraz want that bite of oak tannins, and the sweet hit of alcohol on the finish. They want impact, and worrying about twangy acidity is an afterthought.
Objectively, I view these things as negatives (and judge it accordingly). But when you have an established audience and an established style, maybe what I call ‘balance’ mightn’t be important at all.
Whatever, I struggled with these reds a smidgen. There is so much to admire here, but then I find myself wanting a little bit less…
Bremerton Old Adam Shiraz 2014
Harvested using on of this swish Pellenc Selectiv harvesters with the auto sorting table, which give great results. This red was open fermented with manual pump overs and some plunging. Spends 22 months in old and new American oak. Immediately you’re hit by that intensity. Toasted cocoa bourbon oak is the main feature, backed by very ripe fruit. The powerful palate too is driven by oak weight, the fruit already developing and although the alcohol is sweet, the acid is a fuzzy drying edge and with grippy wood tannins to finish. I can’t quite find the balance here – it’s overwrought and overripe, and for mine the fruit is secondary behind all that oak. It’s not a bad wine at all (hence the score), but just too much. Best drinking: I’m not sure. It will soften, though whether it will get better is a personal preference. The shell will still be kicking on in a decade though. 16/20, 87/100. 15%, $56. Would I buy it? No.
Bremerton Walter’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Winemaking follows a similar format to the Old Adam, except with French oak instead of American. I thought this tasted older than 2013, the style drying and already quite mature, the palate largely driven by milk chocolate oak tannins, with some regional Langhorne choc mint. Of the pair this is better balanced, with the alcohol much less intrusive. Indeed it’s quite long, and for a hearty oaky red it packs a lot in. But would it be even more interesting with less oak and fruit that might still be fresh? Best drinking: This will look better in five years time and will live for a while. 16.5/20, 88/100. 15%, $56. Would I buy it? No.