Moorooroo Park ‘Lotties’ Shiraz 2016

Clear, deep, ruby with thick tears.

Clean, developing, medium+ intensity nose of red fruits, eucalypt and vanilla. Some heat evident that persists through to the palate.

Dry, high acid, medium chalky tannins, high alcohol (15%), full body, medium+ flavour intensity of blackberry, plum, cloves. Long finish, juicy, mouth-watering acid lingers. A generous and luscious palate.

This wine has little tertiary development and would benefit from aging – perhaps open the next bottle around 2030- and be sure to decant. This is a very good wine (94 points) with good (but not excellent) balance – a “blockbuster from Barossa” if you will!

Steak, roasted and barbecued red meats would be a perfect way to enjoy this wine.

Dandelion Lionheart of the Barossa 2018

Clear, deep, ruby with a purple rim.

Clean, youthful, medium intensity nose of baked plum, cranberry, sweet spice (cinnamon, clove), hint of vanilla (suggestive of used oak).

Dry, med+ acid, med tannin, high alcohol (14.5%), med+ body, medium flavour intensity of blackberry, plum – some jamminess. Med+ finish, juicy, acid lingers a little.

This is good to very good wine (93 points), mid-priced (excellent QPR in the low to mid $20’s), can drink now but has potential for ageing up to 10 years (2030). If you drink now be sure to decant!

This is a steak and three veg kind of wine, perfect for winter quaffing.

Singlefile Single Vineyard Denmark Family Reserve Chardonnay 2018

From the packaging alone you know you’re onto something special! A clear, medium, lemon (almost gold) wine with fine tears appearing.

Clean with medium+ intensity of stone fruit (peach, nectarine), blossom, a touch of oak induced toast and a hint of marzipan – developing nicely.

On the palate the stone fruit comes through with some added citrus and the restrained buttery mouthfeel provided by the partial malo.

High alcohol (14.1%), med+ acid, body and flavours with a med+ finish.

A very good wine which is drinking well now but could be cellared for over decade. A restrained, balanced and almost Burgundian example of this varietal. 95 points.

We served this with a seafood chowder – the acid balancing the fats and the restrained malo complementing the dish’s creaminess. The overall assessment – delicious!

d’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings 2014

Pleasant if not too restrained – primary fruit (cherry, plum) struggling to make an impact on the nose or palate.

Further savoury characteristics on the palate, toasted oak and fine tannins, medium acidity and a medium- finish. High alcohol but once again wasn’t evident in the body. Was expecting more for the price, just scrapes a 90, based on my love of this label.

Not sure that there is much to be gained from by leaving the rest in the cellar but I might wait another year.

Windance Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

A clear, deep, garnet wine with pale tears developing. Clean, medium (+) intensity nose, developing with black currant, cassis and dried herbs – vanilla evident from oak treatment.

Dry with medium+, firm tannins, medium acid and high alcohol (14.5%). A medium+ bodied wine with medium+ finish and medium flavour intensity of black fruit, black olive, cedar and bramble.

This is a very good wine (92 points), high-priced ($42) drinking well now, but will show improvement through to 2025.

This is a good example of a Margaret River cabernet, perhaps a little more balance between tannin and fruit would have made this a great wine. Will benefit from decanting.

Oenophiles June 2016 – 1990: Australia versus France

1990 Australia versus France
1990 Australia versus France

I was lucky enough to attend a very special tasting thanks (once again) to John Jens and to the hospitality of Bob Winterbottom. The theme – 1990: Australia versus France – and amazingly all 12 wines were from Bob’s personal collection!

The tasting was divided into five flights – two groups of three and then three groups of two to finish. All flights had been designed to test the tasters and wines had been double decanted before the event. And whilst the wines were predominantly Cabernet there were a few curve balls to test the wisest of palates.

Finally, all bottles had cork enclosures – we had two faulty bottles (cork taint and oxidation) out of the twelve. Some Brettanomyces was evident in the French wines but did not detract from the overall quality of the wine.

Flight 1 included the Moss Wood (Margaret River), Mount Mary (Yarra Valley) and Chateau La Lagune (Haut Medoc). All great wines but the Moss Wood was the pick of the bunch for me – well integrated, fruit still present and displaying tertiary characteristics.

And so it continued… Flight 2 included the John Riddoch (Coonawarra), still fruit driven (blackcurrant) and more than a hint of eucalypt, as well as the Penfolds 707 – all vanilla and butterscotch thanks to the lashings of American Oak. Flight 3, the first of the two glass flights, was the curveball pitting an Australian Shiraz (Wynns Michael) against a French Grenache (Pignan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape). Both excellent with the Pignan showing lovely primary red fruit (cherry, raspberry) still but with all the benefits of ageing.

The last two flights included the Comtesse de Lalande (Paulliac), Penfolds Bin 920 (a Cabernet/Shiraz) and the Grand Vin Chateau Leoville Las Cases (Saint Julien). The more refined palates picked the shiraz in the Bin 920 but the pick of the flights (and perhaps the night) was the Chateau Leoville – subtle and restrained, beautifully integrated fruit, hint of pepper and mushroom. Just a fantastic wine!

Such an excellent night and great privilege to taste these vintage wines. And the winning country? 1990 of course!

Houghton Tasting 2016

As one gets older it becomes more and more apparent how little you know! It’s not supposed to work this way – you’re supposed to get wiser. And of course you do, but with wisdom comes the inevitable revealing of more and more unknowns…

And so it was with my recent visit to Houghton winery in the Swan Valley, for a special tasting courtesy of Kasia from Distinction Wines and John from Lamont’s.

Whilst other wineries in the region such as Sandalford, Mandoon, Upper Reach and Sittella had all been visited by me in the recent past, Houghton seemed to end up on the cutting room floor. Perhaps it was the over emphasis on the “strip label” entry level wine (in my mind at least) but the visit in April 2016 certainly opened my eyes.

But I digress… Kasia organised 20+ wines from the Houghton collection (including some unreleased and small batch wines) and access to the private tasting room where we commenced battle. Working through the range with John Jens and Fine Wine Club’s Barry Weinman, I realised just how much I still had to learn – and how quickly the pros can taste, spit and note!

The wines were on the whole, very good, with examples at every price point. In the mid-priced category, I thought that the Small Batch Rojo Grande 2015 was the pick of the bunch. A fine example of a GSM, medium intensity sweet spice and cherry on the nose with high tannins (drying), medium acid, plum and cloves on the palate. 13.5% alcohol and very good wine (91 points) at $25.

In the slightly more premium category ($35) the 2011 Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon was a standout. Medium+ intensity of cassis, eucalypt and honey on the nose with fine high tannins, medium acid, medium+ alcohol (13.5%) and body of black fruits, plum and black currant leaf. This is a very good wine (93 points) which will reward another 5 to 7 years cellaring.

At the top end of town we tasted the 2012 and 2013 Gladstone’s, and the 2011 and 2012 Jack Mann, all very good to excellent wines sitting at 95 points or greater. The best of this grouping was the 2011 Jack Mann although I wrote a note for the softer 2012 – a clear, dark garnet wine with legs developing and medium+ intensity black berry fruits, cigar box and a touch of eucalypt on the nose. Medium+ soft tannins, medium acid and medium+ alcohol (14%) with medium+ body, finish and flavours of black berry fruits and vanilla. An excellent, premium priced ($110) wine (96 points) which can be drunk now but will benefit from an extended period in the cellar (15+ years).

A thoroughly enjoyable and educational afternoon.