Wendouree in the Clare Valley is legendary in local wine circles for their quixotic mailing list practices and very high quality wines. I sometimes wonder in which order. I opened a bottle of their shiraz malbec here from the 2015 vintage. It immediately identifies as a high quality wine. Its aromas remind of warm spices, red fruits, pepper and earth. “Crushed ants” came to mind, but I think spicey and peppery is better understood. The palate is medium bodied with a pleasing and layered complexity, medium to firm but finely textured tannins and sublimely handled oak. Chocolate characters occupy the background and the finish is towards long. This is an excellent Wendouree that seeks to express itself in multiple dimensions. It is not yet in its drinking window, and will reward medium to long term cellaring for a decade or more. Rating: Very Good. Website: None. Tasted: July 2020.
The Mr. Mick rosé is made by Tim Adams in the Clare Valley and from the unlikely combination of sangiovese, tempranillo and mourvèdre. In the glass, it has a pink/purple hue, fresh acidity and is very fruity and finishes dry. Overall, this is a pleasant rosé that is low in alcohol and keenly priced. Rating: Good. Abv: 10.5%. Price: <$15. Website: mrmick.com.au.
I have been cellaring Wendouree’s wines for a few years now, and tasting too few of them. The 2011 is a poor vintage in most of south eastern Australia and therefore seemed a good candidate to start a correction with. More Wendouree reviews will follow. In the glass, the 2011 cabernet malbec proves quite approachable with aromatics of cedar and gentle cassis. The palate is medium bodied and presents as approachable and balanced. To the extent Wendouree has a reputation for a more rustic style that comes good with age, this wine is not an example of that. This wine has entered its drinking window and should drink well for another five to eight years. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: not recorded. Price: $60+.
Despite some slightly ungainly labelling on this BWS private label, this wine presents as a good quality varietally typical Clare Valley riesling. In the glass, there are aromas of stones and lime. The palate is dry, the acidity fresh and the length a little short, but this is nonetheless sound drinking at $15. Books and covers. Rating: Good. Abv: 12%. Price: $15. Source: Sample.
From the Watervale subregion of the Clare Valley, this wine from Mitchell Wines (no relation!) is quite aromatic, with aromas of lime, jasmine and a herbaceous note. The palate is dry, with mouth watering acidity, a youthful touch of CO2 and a medium body. It provides delicious drinking now and will also suit long ageing. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.0%. Price: $25. Source: Sample.
This is an aged cabernet sauvignon release from Mitchell Wines in the Clare Valley. The vineyard does not see irrigation and the wine is estate bottled. From the 2010 vintage, it’s a deeply coloured wine in the glass. It opens to aromas of dark, baked plums. The palate is very typical of Clare Valley cabernet. The tannins are fine and very firm and its fullish body is complemented by leaf, clove, cedar and an “old world” style savoury character. This is a fine, serious and savoury release that is nonetheless quite intense in its expression of Clare Valley fruit. There’s a lot of interest here for the modest price of $28. Rating: Very Good. Price: $28. Source: Sample.
Here are reviews of a couple of new releases from Gartelmann wines.
Gartelmann Petit Verdot 2014, Mudgee
You don’t see too many petit verdots as a single varietal wine, although this wine also has some cabernet sauvignon in it. This is a fruity style, with aromas of strawberry jam and cedar. The palate is medium bodied with some fruit sweetness (the wine is of course dry), together with strawberry and earth overtones and some gentle tannic grip. For current drinking. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.2%. Price: $30.
Gartelmann Diedrich Shiraz 2014, Hunter Valley and Clare Valley
A blend of Hunter Valley and Clare Valley shiraz, making it a multi-regional blend from regions that are certainly not close. The blending decisions made however were good ones. More intensely coloured than the petit verdot, it has intense aromas of spearmint, menthol, baking spices and plums, together with cedar. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, with sweet shiraz fruit, fresh acidity and firm tannins and an affinity to oak. Good length on the finish. This wine should improve with age and is a good warm climate expression of shiraz. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.7%. Price: $45.
Neither vintage nor region are clearly declared on this bottle, although my guesses are 2016 and Mudgee. Savoury, oak and smoke aromas. Smoke and spice on the palate, supplemented by sweet fruited cherries. The tannins are powdery and there is evident spritz in the glass. A bit clumsy in all (in my opinion), with an acidic finish. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13.5%. Price: N/A. Source: Sample.
Deep colour with restrained and savoury impression. Muted in aroma – blackcurrants mostly. Full body, spice and plums on the palate. Some evidence of oak, but not overly so. Length good, but acid impression affects the balance on the finish. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 15%. Price: $20. Source: Sample.
Deeply coloured, this wine has restrained aromatics of plum, anise and varnish. The palate is full bodied and the tannins drying. Astringent acidity on the finish detracted from this wine. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $16. Source: Sample.
This was the second best wine of the group. Pronounced aromas of mint and eucalyptus. Could only be Australian. Balanced palate with sweet, minty fruit and mid range length. A sound expression of Coonawarra shiraz, and a region/grape variety combination that is underrated. Rating: Good. Abv: 15%. Price: $20. Source: Sample.
Deeply coloured with a sweet expression of blackcurrant, vanilla and cedar. Pronounced in expression and plummy. The tannins are drying but in all a sound wine. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 14.4%. Price: $29. Source: Sample.
This wine was the best of the set. Lighter in colour, with an orange rim. It opens to restrained aromatics of cherry, earth and tobacco. The palate is towards full bodied, with fine tannins and a touch of bitterness on the finish. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.8%. Price: $25. Source: Sample.
This wine has restrained aromas of lemon and stones. Dry on the palate, there’s some well handled oak, green apple characters, balance, medium length and some acid zing. A bargain at $15. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.4%. Price: $15. Source: Sample.
This wine presents with very restrained aromas of stone and meal, and cedar characters suggesting mostly older oak has been used. The palate is dry and restrained in its expressions of lemon and stone, and medium length and also has some acid zing. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.0%. Price: $22. Source: Sample.
Restrained in impression, this wine opens to aromas of green apple and subtle oak use. Between medium and full bodied on the palate, with good length and a very balanced expression of a cooler climate style chardonnay. Another bargain, this time at $19. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $19. Source: Sample.
This is a more aromatic wine than the previous three, with its expression of apricot and dried fruits. No oak on the palate, it is full bodied with a mealy, textured expression and is well made if singular. Rating: Good. Abv: 12.9%. Price: $20. Source: Sample.
Pale in colour with a slight pink hue. Typical pinot gris. A medium intensity aromas of pears on the nose. The palate is between medium and full bodied with no oak influence and a stoney, minerally expression of citrus fruits and pear and an acid zing on the tail. A good example of cool climate pinot grigio. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.0%. Price: $20. Source: Sample.
This is an excellent riesling from Mitchell Wines in the Clare Valley. Lemon and lime aromatics give way to a dry, medium bodied palate with refreshing, linear and deliciously minerally acidity. Substantial length on the finish completes the picture. Yes. The vines were planted in 1960, are not irrigated and tended organically. (Alc: 13%, Region: Clare Valley, South Australia, Rating: Very Good, Would I buy it based on this tasting? Yes, Drink: now to 2029+, Tasted: July, 2017, Source: Sample)
Other vintages reviewed: