Tag: Eden Valley

Five new release Australian chardonnays from five different regions

I tasted today through five Australian new release chardonnays, all blind, with prices ranging from $22 to $68. The average quality level in Australian chardonnay is very good indeed if you are able to spend $20 or more per bottle. The cooler climate regions of the Mornington Peninsula and Orange shone more brightly than the warmer regions, and Ten Minutes by Tractor’s Mornington Peninsula McCutcheon chardonnay shone brightest.

Huntington Estate Mudgee Chardonnay 2017
This wine has restrained aromatics that remind of lemon, pear and talc. The palate is dry, with firm acidity, a medium to full body, some depth of flavour, a heated spice expression and a medium length, warm finish. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.1%. Price: $22. Source: Sample.

Rowlee Single Vineyard Orange Chardonnay 2016
This wine has pronounced aromatics of lemon, nectarine, cedar and, initially only, smoke and struck match. There is some evidence of oak. The palate is dry, with medium to firm acidity, medium to full body, long length on the finish, and a mineral and crystalline character. From a hitherto unseen label, this is good drinking. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $40. Source: Sample.

Ten Minutes by Tractor Chardonnay McCutcheon Single Vineyard 2015
This wine has restrained aromatics of almond meal and cedar and a golden colour in the glass. There is evidence of good quality new oak. The palate is dry, and the acidity quite linear and zingy. It has refined bones of lemon and minerals, a medium body, good length and quite a subtle bearing. This is an outstanding chardonnay release, and I was not surprised to see this very good producer’s name on the reveal. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding. Abv: 13.8%. Price: $68. Source: Sample.

Pig in the House Organic Chardonnay Cowra 2017
This wine presented with unusual and pronounced aromatics that reminded of dust and green capsicum. The palate is medium to full bodied. There is a roundness to the acidity, but it is not portly. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13%. Price: $25. Source: Sample.

Heggies Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Eden Valley 2015
This wine has restrained but primary fruited aromatics of stones, almond meal and lemon zest. There is some evidence of oak and the acidity is quite zingy, spritzy and almost a little hard. The body medium to full and the length quite subtle but persistent. This is a good chardonnay. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $31. Source: Sample.

6 new release Australian whites

At the table today I tasted through six new release Australian whites, all completely blind. No price exceeded $22, although that was not known either. The average quality was very good and as usual blind tasting leads to a few surprises. Interestingly, the two wines with gold medal stickers on them (the first and third) showed well in the bracket. Notes and observations follow.
d’Arenberg The Olive Grove Chardonnay McLaren Vale Adelaide Hills 2016
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.
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Chardonnay 2016
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.
Taylors Clare Valley Padthaway Chardonnay 2015
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.
d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne McLaren Vale 2017
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.
d’Arenberg The Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc Adelaide Hills 2017
This is most evidently sauvignon blanc. Pale in colour, there are pronounced aromatics of gooseberry and very grassy notes. No oak is used, there’s fresh acid on the palate, and 4g/l of residual sugar softens the impression. Mid range length. Rating: Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $20. Source: Sample.
Angullong Pinot Grigio Orange Region 2017
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.

Mesh Eden Valley Riesling 2014

The Mesh label has been with us for just a little over a decade, and is a collaboration between Robert Hill Smith (of Yalumba fame) and Jeffrey Grosset (of Grosset fame) intended to raise the status of riesling and the Eden Valley in South Australia.  The extraordinary quality of Australian riesling probably does need some raising, so it’s a great project.

The 2014 riesling tasted here is very typical for the region.  Vintage conditions in the Eden Valley were punctuated that year by wind at flowering and heavy rain in mid-February, fortunately well before harvest.  Harvest was 6/7 March, and the result was a low yielding crop.  Youthful in impression, the 2014 Mesh riesling has aromatics of lime, lemon and stones.  The palate continues this theme, is dry (1g/l of residual sugar is listed) and framed by refreshing acidity.  I couldn’t help but like this release.  Good

Abv: 12.5%, Price: $25, Vendors and website: http://www.meshwine.com, Tasted: 2015

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2012

Pewsey Vale’s 2012 riesling presents very well.  It opens to complex aromatics of lemon, lime, slate, stones and chalk.  The palate has high acid, a medium body and flavours reminding of lemon, lime, slate and lemon pith.  This is a good to very good Pewsey Vale release due to its length, complexity and true to type regional style.  Good to Very Good

Abv: 12.5%
Price: $22
Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.pewseyvale.com
Tasted: 2014

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2012

Source: Google Maps

I was still thinking about this 2012 vintage of Jacob’s Creek’s “Steingarten” riesling the next day.  It has fresh aromatics of lemon and stones.  The palate is dry, with high acid and flavours reminding of minerals, stones, lemon and lime.  The length on the finish is towards long.  There’s quite some complexity here in this release, which combined with the length on the finish and the minerally characters makes for a very attractive riesling.  Very Good

Abv: 12.1%
Price: $25
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://jacobscreek.com.au
Region: Eden Valley
Tasted: 2014
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Langtons Classification Tasting: September 2013

The Langtons auction house classification tasting has quickly become one of the “must attend” tastings on the Australian wine calendar.  The Langtons classification is a ranking of 123 of Australia’s best wines in the categories “exceptional”, “outstanding”, “excellent” and “distinguished”.  To make the grade, the wine must have at least 10 vintages, and a judgement is formed (by Langtons) as to track record and reputation measured through market presence, consistency, volume of demand and price.  There are few Australian wines of repute that are not on this list.

The tasting involves taking a glass and wending your way through the melee of Australian wineries pouring their classified wines (generously, I might add) into said glass.  To have the benchmark wines of Australia (think Penfolds Grange, Hensche Hill of Grace, Bass Phillip Pinot Noir, among others) all  freely available within metres of each other makes for an extraordinary event.

To follow are my impressions of the wines tasted.  I have not offered gradings on the basis that in a huge tasting such as this, out of a single glass, it seemed more accurate to note down impressions and glimpses, rather than a serious study of each wine.

My wine of the night:

Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2010, Gippsland
I don’t often say this, but wow.  And wow again.  Aromatics of game, smoked meats, cherry and dried herbs.  On the palate, opulent cherry, long length and game and bacon characters at the edges.  The obsessive Phillip Jones at Bass Phillip has nailed this wine.  Simply outstanding, and the wine of the night.

Three wines of great interest:

Penfolds Grange 2007, South Australia
I preferred this to the 2008 Grange.  Similar aromatics to the 2008, except with dried herbs more evident.  On the palate, the length was long and the balance and depth of plum fruit outstanding.  A complete and outstanding wine.

Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1 2008, Yarra Valley

Very left bank Bordeaux like, with medium intensity aromatics of blackcurrant and cedar.  Very likeable.  On the palate, blackcurrant, a touch of leather and medium to long length.  Impressive.

Penfolds Grange 2008, South Australia
This is the fabled “100 point” Wine Advocate wine.  It attracted much public interest – whether it was because it received 100 points, or was simply because it was “a Grange”, is probably moot.  A medium to pronounced intensity saturated purple in colour.  Aromatics of vanilla, plum, cedar, black brooding mulberry.  The palate has medium to long length, with plums and a touch of stalk, and yet is full flavoured with the dash of cabernet sauvignon used to good effect.  A little more austere than expected.  Needs time.

And many more wines of interest:

Jim Barry Armagh Shiraz 2008, Clare Valley
Aromatics of dried tea leaves, ripe plums and a medium intensity expression.  The palate is soft and plush, with between medium and long length, and plum flavours dominant.  I found this wine quite attractive already, with the expression almost merlot like.

Henschke Hill of Grace 2005, Eden Valley
Bottled under screwcap.  Unusually for someone writing about wine in Australia, I am a screwcap agnostic.  This particular Hill of Grace has some odd aromatics that might be attributable to its screwcap closure, as its expression is quite reductive, with strong notes of herbs and asparagus.  The palate though is outstanding, with long length and lovely plum and Christmas cake flavours that run deep.

Yalumba Signature Cabernet Shiraz 2009, Barossa Valley
Aromatics with a touch of menthol, bay leaf and blackberry.  The palate sees licorice, aniseed, black olives and unresolved chalky tannins.

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2010, Macedon Ranges
Bramble, stalk and cherry aromas in an alluring expression.  Restrained cedar.  On the palate, medium length, maybe a little more, and flavours reminding of stones and cherry.  The palate seems intermingled with a mineral edge with acidity at the sides.  A good wine, maybe even impressive.

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2000, Macedon Ranges
From jeroboam.  Now, I don’t say that too often.  Its aromatics are of game, smoked bacon, receding cherry, spice, dried thyme and herbs.  Quite complex really.  The palate has supple resolved tannins, and a quite ripe expression of cherry.

Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, Margaret River
Quite austere aromatics of capsicum, bay leaf and blackberry.  The palate tastes youthful, with some plushness, medium to long length, bay leaf, and quite savoury.  A good wine.

Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz Cabernet Franc 2006, Heathcote
Aromatics of pepper and peppermint.  The palate is brooding, with notes of mulberry, plum, dried herbs, “Heathcote” peppermint and medium to long length.  Of interest.

Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2006, Heathcote
Quite muted in expression, with plum notes.  A structured palate with perhaps bitter tannins and plums to the fore.

Cullen Diana Madeline 2011, Margaret River
Dried herb, blackberry and some unexpectedly bright fruit by way of aromatics.  On the palate, bay leaf, blackberry and fine tannins.  Good without being outstanding.

Domaine A Cabernet 2006, Tasmania
Aromatics of mushroom, earth, leather and game.  Some brett?  A Bordeaux like expression of blackcurrant and dried herbs on the palate.

Dalwhinnie Eagle Series Shiraz 2010, Pyrenees
Aromatics of plums and dried herbs.   High acid on the palate, and seemed to thin out a little.  But otherwise pleasant.

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet 2010, Coonawarra
Licorice, iron and blackcurrant aromatics.  On the palate, medium length – maybe a bit more, with notes of blackberry and licorice.  This is an intense but closed wine at this point in time.

Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz 2009, Barossa Valley
I’ve said this before, but what’s with South Australian wine labels?  Aromatics of bright red juby fruit.  The palate also speaks of red juby fruit and medium to long length.  The wine felt quite taut and pulled against the edges, reminding of a southern Rhone blend.

Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2008, Gippsland
Aromatics of dried herbs, cherry and thyme, presenting in a restrained fashion.  Smoke, cedar, cherry and spice.  This is a good pinot noir, but the 2010 is stunning.

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet 2010, Margaret River
Austere aromatics of bay leaf, cedar and blackcurrant.  The palate reminds of French oak, cloves, blackcurrant, and is structured and closed with medium to long length.  Early days.

Clarendon Hills Australis Shiraz 2008, Barossa Valley
Fruity aromatics of ripe plum.  The palate is all about primary fruit purity showing plums with long length and full flavour.  It’s a bit obvious in what it does but it nails the brief.

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2010, Barossa Valley
Thyme, dried herbs by way of aromatics.  The palate has medium to long length and a dense plummy expression.  A bit broody at this point, but certainly fruit driven.


Yarra Yarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Yarra Valley
Aromatics of leather and blackcurrant.  A leathery palate, with soft pleasant blackcurrants.  Brett?

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra
Ripe blackberries by way of aroma.  On the palate, medium to long length, structure and firm tannins.  Of interest, but too young to drink.

Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2011, Heathcote
My question as to why Heathcote’s star didn’t to me appear to be shining quite as brightly as it should be was parried away with denial.  Aromatics of peppermint, plums. The palate shows eucalyptus, peppermint, plum, high acid and some structure.

Giaconda Shiraz 2010, Beechworth
Aromatics of clipped herbs and cloves.  Quite pungent green/herbal aromatics.  On the palate, this is a mean, lean and green shiraz.

Disclosure: I attended this tasting as a guest of Langtons.

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Rockford Hand Picked Riesling 2010

I admit I haven’t been entirely convinced by some of Rockford’s non “Basket Press” offerings in the past (I am a card carrying fan of that wine), but more recently I seem to be tasting some very good wines from the broader Rockford stable.  This riesling from the Eden Valley for example presented very well indeed.  Yellow gold in colour, it has aromatics of steel, minerals and gunflint.  The palate has a restrained lemon and lime expression, with an almost smokey minerally character.  This is a good, refined and balanced riesling that I suspect will last rather a long time.  Good

Abv: 12.5%
Price: $25
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.rockfordwines.com.au
Tasted: 2013
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Tim Smith Wines Riesling 2012

Tim Smith Wines is the venture of winemaker Tim Smith.  This is the second vintage of his Eden Valley riesling, with the grapes sourced from a vineyard planted in 1922 at an elevation of 450 metres above sea level.  That a riesling vineyard might be a lazy 90 years old, and no doubt with the vines planted on their own roots, is really something, I think.  Let’s hope they don’t stuff it all up with the mooted relaxation on South Australian phylloxera controls.

Having written a paper recently on wine labelling, my unwritten conclusion was that it doesn’t interest me much despite their remarkable powers.  Sometimes you read one though, like this one, and the description matches your own thoughts rather than being full of guff.

Tim Smith’s riesling is almost clear in colour, the aromatics of sour lemon, lemon pith and salt.  On the palate, the 2012 riesling is bone dry, has very racy acidity and a bit of tang, with lemons, salt and some residual stoniness there and perhaps short of medium but subtle length.  It’s a combination of angles and a certain lightness in body, set to soaring lemon flavours and bracing acidity.  This wine will probably last for a very long time, and is a good example of Eden Valley riesling.  Good

Abv: 11.5%
Price: $25
Source: sample
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.timsmithwines.com.au
Tasted: 2012

St Hallet Old Block Shiraz 2006

St Hallet’s Old Block Shiraz is one of those wines that is happily easy to find.  It would be an error however, I think, to dismiss it lightly as a consequence.  The wine is fashioned from fruit sourced from 60-100 year old vines situated in the Barossa and Eden Valleys, and this particular vintage is frankly very good indeed.  While for many this wine will recall recollections of the region, for me, this label reminds me of hearty warmth during cold London winters.

Still purple in colour, the wine opens to an expression of buttery popcorn oak and jube like fruit, before settling down to more classic and brooding plum aromatics.  The palate evidences really quite long length and is a typical Barossan expression of warm spiced plums, seasoned with a touch of pepper.  Its long length makes this wine stand out, and merit your interest.  90 points (extremely good)

Abv: 14.5%
Price: $70
Vendors: try Nicks
Website: http://www.sthallett.com.au/
Tasted: June 2012