Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

A few Aussie wines…

January 2017. The other day I dropped in on the Australia Day tasting in London. A thousand wines were being sniffed at, sipped, guzzled, gargled, and (mostly) spat out by a thousand avid tasters of all ages, shapes, sizes, and dispositions. The wines were likewise varied: light and ingratiating, vigorous and enticing, dark and complex, elegant and nuanced. It was as cheerfully noisy an event as a football stadium with the home side winning. And the most crowded tasting I’ve ever attended.

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Just a few samplings:

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HARDY’S 2013 “HRB” MARGARET RIVER COONEWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON ***

A blackish purple, this has a leathery scent of black cherry jam, prune, and liquorice. The flavour is soft, elegant with ample berryish fruit braced by the sort of acidity you get in ripe damsons. An excellent wine that will benefit from a few years’ cellaring.

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2012 HARDYS “EILEEN HARDY” MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ ***

This opaque wine has a full, vinous aroma, a bit oakier than necessary, but clearly with masses of substance. A meld of black cherry, blackberry, and smoke scents and savours, with a hint of shoe polish to boot (!). This will doubtless be polished off early on but would benefit greatly from being laid down 5-8 years.

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2012 HARDYS “THOMAS HARDY” COONEWARRA MARGARET RIVER CABERNET SAUVIGNON***

From the same year, this has a lighter cherry colour, with a soft, oaky nose that’s a bit acidic. I find a similar leathery note to the first wine’s, and it’s extremely solid on the palate, with a lot of substance. A wine with real grip, destined to live a good decade if spared by the impatient. (these are wines of character – I’d love to visit this property and taste the full range, inclusive of older vintages).

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2009 GRANT BARGE “MESACH” BAROSSA VALLEY SHIRAZ***

The deep black purple colour promises concentration and depth, a promise that’s redeemed on the palate. Weighty and voluminous, yet also round and balanced, it needs at least 3-5 years’ cellaring to show its true character. Pronounced Shiraz traits – freshness and vitality combined.

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2012 PETALUMA “B&V” VINEYARD ADELAIDE HILLS SHIRAZ ***

This dynamic, blackish wine exhales gusts of copybook Shiraz scents suggestive of black fig and jam made from Victoria plums. On the palate, invitingly round and savoury with luscious fruit hinting again at plum, both jam and fresh modes, as well as pomegranate. The middle flavour is most delicious but I found the finish just a bit ascerbic. Nonetheless, a very good wine that should show still better around 2020-26.

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2014 LEEUWIN ESTATE “PRELUDE VINEYARDS” MARGARET RIVER CHARDONNAY **

A brilliant, pale green-gold (from looks, it could be a Puligny), this possesses a crisp aroma, faintly sweet, that leads into a pleasingly fruity flavour given vitality by just the right sort of acidity. The varietal character is a bit muted – it could be taken for a very good Pinot Blanc – but will no doubt strengthen as it matures.

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2012 LEEUWIN ESTATE “ART SERIES” MARGARET RIVER CHARDONNAY *** (*)

A slightly richer, more golden colour (probably oaked), this has a fine compact aroma, strikingly fresh and pure, of lime, greengage, honey, and chlorophyll. The fullish flavour expands to include lychee and yellow plum. A very good wine, at best around 2019-23.

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2011 LEEUWIN ESTATE “ART SERIES” MARGARET RIVER CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT ****

Dark but limpid, this has a subtle aroma that could be taken for that of a fine Pinot Noir. (I think specifically of Pommard). This scent, all of a piece, leads into an elegant, complex flavour of striking freshness, an aromatic fusion of cherry and Victoria plum. At its core, a touch of nectarine sweetness. I greatly enjoy this wine, with its lovely harmonious flavour and appetising and focused finish. You could certainly enjoy it now, because of its essential harmony, but it will improve over a number of years.

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2011 LEEUWIN ESTATE “ART SERIES” MARGARET RIVER CABERNET SAUVIGNON ****

Promisingly dark, this pure C.-S. has a velvety, refined nose of black cherry, damson, and graphite, with a touch of violet. The flavour, if a shade too woody, is soft, refined, and expressive, with good texture and a pleasing and persistent aftertaste. A very good wine that cries out to be allowed a few years’ cellaring.

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2012 LEEUWIN ESTATE “ART SERIES” MARGARET RIVER CABERNET SAUVIGNON **** (*)

Darker and fuller, this has a seamless aroma that suggests a whole range of black fruits and berries. The flavour is concentrated, juicy, and all of a piece; I find myself thinking of a really good Pomerol. In the mouth, a lovely velvety texture and considerable depth of flavour. The tannins, in tandem with generous fruit, endow the wine with grace and vitality. It would be a crime to consume this too soon (though the temptation’s there!). A two years’ wait should be mandatory; then 6-8 more at least of ever-growing enjoyment.

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2013 TYRRELL’s HUNTER VALLEY SHIRAZ

The pale purple colour suggests young vines, likewise the lightish flavour. It’s not very long or concentrated and ends on a bitter note.

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2013 TYRRELL’S “RUFUS STONE” HEATHCOTE SHIRAZ VIOGNIER ***

Made from a typical Côte-Rôtie blend, this has an elegant, very Shiraz scent reminiscent of a good Saint Joseph. It smells and tastes of blackcurrant and elderberry with a haunting suggestion of damson. Good length. An elegant wine to enjoy now and over the next few years.

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2012 THE LANE VINEYARD “19TH MEETING” ADELAIDE HILLS CABERNET SAUVIGNON ****

This black but lustrous wine gives off a superb, expressive aroma of blackberry, damson, and cherry. How can so soft a scent, I ask myself, be so dynamic and arresting? There’s hint of dark chocolate too. Wines such as this command your full attention. You sniff and sniff again. The excellence promised on the nose is delivered on the palate. All of a piece, weighty and of velvety texture, the flavour conjures up blackberry, chocolate, damson, and cinnamon. The aftertaste is long and complex, and you simply know it will develop all manner of nuances as it ages. A superbly crafted wine.

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SEE ALSO :

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<< MAJOR TASTING OF 37 TOP AUSTRALIAN CHARDONNAYS

 

 

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© Frank Ward 2017

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