This wine is a very good Bordeaux Supérieur, with the vineyard sitting just outside of Margaux. From the excellent 2015 vintage, it’s a merlot dominant blend of 75% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 5% cabernet franc. Generous in style, the wine opens to aromas of plums and red fruits. The palate is medium bodied, fleshy and has approachable tannins and good length. This is a very tasty fruit forward wine that will please. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $42. Source: Sample. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $42. Source: Sample.
Fronsac is near Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux. This wine is a blend of 65/35 merlot and cabernet franc. The vines are 35 years old on average, and the wine sees 50% new oak. From the outstanding 2010 vintage, it has savoury aromas of currant, blackberry and cedar. The palate is full bodied and the length long. This is a powerful and serious merlot with considerable intensity of fruit and expression. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 15%. Price: $68. Source: Sample. Read more: bordeauxandbeyond.com.
Wineries in Gippsland? I asked with incredulity. Yes indeed, came the response, although no one appeared to have more than a vague notion about their precise number and identity. As ever, Victoria has a capacity for surprise. As with the Mornington Peninsula (which will no doubt justify a chapter of its own in the next edition of this book), Gippsland has its own 100-year viticultural history.
While many today would be familiar with James Halliday’s wine rating guides, perhaps less well known is that he has authored a series of outstanding books on Australian wine over several decades. While recently, and briefly, in east Gippsland, the above passage from his 1982 book, “Wine & Wineries of Victoria” (University of Queensland Press) was in mind.
Decades later while the Mornington Peninsula is covered in vines in a manner previously unseen, little seems to have changed in Gippsland in passing through. The impression is of a winery here and there, despite having all the ingredients necessary to produce fine wine. Indeed, while Gippsland is an enormous area, it probably produces Australia’s premier pinot noir (Bass Phillip in Leongatha), a largely unknown but brilliant cabernet blend from the McAlister Vineyard in Longford (vintages 2005, 2006 and 2010 previously reviewed) and is home to one of Australia’s highly regarded winemakers, William Downie.
With limited time in the far east of the region, I dropped into the Nicholson River Winery. This winery commands a stunning view of the river which would have made a beautiful photo, had I in fact have taken it. The above photo instead must suffice. All the wines are estate grown and vinified and bottled on site. I tasted their merlot/cabernet blend, the pinot noir and rosé and was impressed. The 2013 Nicholson River Winery Merlot Cabernets was the pick of the group – a current drinking right bank Bordeaux style blend with a mid weight impression of plums and savoury tannins. The 2016 Nicholson River Winery Rosé made from pinot noir is also well made with floral notes and a dry, savoury finish. The 2013 Nicholson River Winery Montview Pinot Noir is also a pleasant pinot noir with cherry driven fruit notes.
Tastings were rounded out with a thirstily consumed Sarsfield Estate Rosé from further up the road. No vintage was obvious on the label, but this is a fresh, clean and crisp wine with lovely white peach notes. And finally, a 2016 Cannibal Creek Merlot was spotted on a restaurant list, and although from hundreds of kilometres away north of Tynong, it is nonethless also a “Gippsland wine”. It is medium bodied with pretty acid, florals and a plum impression.
I’ve written previously about this producer from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia in Canada, and 2013 vintage is another good release. Although a merlot dominant blend, it’s very much a cru bourgeois in style, or closer to home, it reminds of a Yarra Valley cabernet blend from a very good producer. The 2013 blend is 82% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 2.5% malbec, 1% petit verdot and 0.5% cabernet franc. In the glass, the wine has aromas and flavours of blackcurrants and presents with fresh acidity and a lovely medium bodied balance. Lovely drinking. (Region: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Rating: Good to Very Good, Drink: now to 2025, Tasted: Jan, 2017)
Other vintages reviewed:
Good to Very Good
This is a sound wine from Domaine du Salut, a hitherto untasted producer. From the 2010 vintage, it’s a blend of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon. It provides more or less satisfactory drinking, with some earth and barnyard characters. Its merlot influence lends it a red berry character that reminds of basic AOP red Bordeaux. (Region: Graves, Bordeaux, France, Rating: Acceptable, Drink: now)
Bordeaux and Beyond continue to fish out excellent wines from the Bordeaux region. This is another. From the outstanding 2009 vintage, it’s a blend of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc from Chateau de la Dauphine. Specifically, the wine is from the red wine appellation of Fronsac to the west of Libourne. The vines have an average age of 33 years old and are densely planted at 6,300 vines per hectare. In the glass, the wine has aromatics of cigar box, sweet dark cherry and blackcurrants. The palate has a lovely balance to it, and good length on the finish.
Rating: Good to Very Good
Vendors and website: http://bordeauxandbeyond.com