I quite like southern Rhône white styles. Viognier is a particular grape variety, typically full bodied and early drinking. This viognier from Arundel Farm Estate in the Sunbury region west of Melbourne has aromas of pear and ginger and presents correctly. The palate is full bodied, soft and ready to drink. A good value and well made viognier. Rating: Good. Price: $20. Abv: 14.5%. Website: http://arundelfarmestate.com.au/. Source: Sample.
Arundel Farm Estate is not a winery I have previously come across. Located in Keilor in the west of Melbourne, it is within the Sunbury geographic indication which is larger than the town of Sunbury. Craiglee, the region’s most well known producer, is 22km away.
In the glass, the 2017 shiraz is a pleasant wine and a medium bodied, cooler climate syrah style. Its aroma reminds of struck match, cracked pepper and bacon. The palate has notes of green pepper and herbs and good length. Ready to drink now. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $25. Website: http://arundelfarmestate.com.au/. Source: Sample.
I’ve had some very good Craiglee shiraz over the years. The 2013 however appears to be a lesser vintage. Its aroma reminds of red fruits and plums, but there is little of the typical pepper of this estate. The palate is pleasant enough, although the finish is a little short and, at times, warming. Ready to drink now, this Craiglee may need more time to develop. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $60. Website: www.craigleevineyard.com.
Craiglee’s shiraz is a wine that I wish I had more of in the cellar. It is a Victorian cool climate classic and can age very well. This is the 2012 vintage; the grapes are estate grown in outer suburban Sunbury and the back label refers to “natural processes” being in use. Unfortunately, their website offers little in terms of detail from there. In the glass, the wine has pepper, plum and bramble fruit aromatics. The palate is an exercise in plums and plum skins. Restrained, but not overly so, this is a typical cool climate shiraz and a good release from Craiglee.
Vendors and website: http://www.craigleevineyard.com
You don’t see a lot of varietal cabernet franc wines in Australia, and I can’t help thinking there’s an opportunity there for a cooler climate region. There’s also practically no competition on Australian retail shelves from the Loire Valley red cabernet franc appellations, regions which I favour. All the same, you perhaps risk me being your only customer.
Longview Creek, a small estate in Sunbury to the west of Melbourne, have produced a good cabernet franc here in 2010.
Ruby in colour, the wine is clean, with aromatics of wood spice, cherry, clove, and some eucalyptus and herby notes with time in the glass. Minutes, not hours, that is. Pinot noir also came to mind. On the palate, it is a dry medium bodied red with expressions of blueberry, cherry, wood and plum. Though I would have liked to see the wood dialled back a little, this is a good wine due to its balance, with some complexity of character with spices, red fruits and an earthiness with time that is true to the cabernet franc grape. Drink now. Good
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
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2009 was a pretty ordinary year for the regions around Melbourne being the last year of a long drought. Heatwaves, water stress and bushfires and just a general lack of humidity presented significant viticultural challenges. Craiglee however seem to have fashioned a good wine anyway. I tasted this wine at a trade tasting, and it stood out as an unambiguous beacon of quality.
The 2009 shiraz is a medium intensity ruby in colour, with typical “Craiglee aromatics” of pepper and plums, with a medium intensity of expression. The savoury palate emphasised its depth with nuances of peppers, plums, spices, while maintaining balanced length and tannins. This is a good and balanced Craiglee that will reward drinking now or over the next few years. Very Good
Abv: not recorded
Vendors: check http://www.wine-searcher.com
Tasted: August 2012
If you wondered whether I deliberately or coincidentally fossick around various Victorian wine regions looking for undiscovered cabernet based wines, the answer is the former. Absurdly enough, aside from finding good wines, it is also the thought of some amazing early twentieth century Victorian cabernet wines that I have only read about that makes this interesting. Specifically, I am thinking of the esteemed 1929 Dawson Glenlinton vineyard claret from Whittlesea (only to have the vines uprooted in 1930) and the 1915 Yeringberg cabernet from the Yarra Valley (before the vines, said to be cuttings from Chateau Lafite, were uprooted in the 1920s).
Craiglee of course has a long vinous history that dates back to 1863, before vines went out of production in 1926. Fifty years later in 1976, vines were replanted on the site of the original vineyard and Pat Carmody runs the show. Anyway, what then of this wine?
Unfortunately, if this cabernet based wine is indicative, I think that Craiglee’s best hand is their shiraz. A medium intensity ruby in colour, the wine has a challenging aroma of socks and herbs. But mostly herbs. The palate has close to medium length and acidity, quite pronounced tannins (albeit fine grained) and has a certain elegance to it. I think, at this point in its life, the wine doesn’t really come together – the tannins seem a bit overpowering, the length a bit short, and the aromatics a bit herbal. I don’t have the impression that this wine will find its balance. Acceptable to Good
Abv: not recorded
Vendors: Check in with http://www.craiglee.com.au
Tasted: August 2012