TASTING NOTES: The New Australian 250

By Jancis Robinson
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Rows of vines in a South Australian vineyard

Rows of vines in a South Australian vineyard [©Winepros/VisitVineyards.com]

Below are the first 25 from about 250 tasting notes of mostly really interesting Australian wines. The majority of these notes were taken at the Australia Day tasting at the Emirates Arsenal stadium in London in 2008, but they are supplemented by notes on the more distinctive Australian wines I have tasted over the last few months.

I apologise if some of the wines are already difficult to find in commercial distribution; others may not yet have made it on to retail shelves and lists (Ed: in the UK) but our aim has been to present a decent snapshot of some of the more distinctive producers of Australian wine today. Omissions are generally either because companies are too big and already well known (to us at least) or because they don’t export to the UK. But there will inevitably be many who have slipped through the net.

7th Continent Riesling 2007 Clare Valley
15.5
Drink 2008-09
Sweetish, easy, juicy. None of the ambition nor austerity of classic Clare Riesling but a please-all, undemanding drink.Global giant Diageo’s label designed to showcase Australian regionality. Those showing this wine in London didn’t seem to know where it might have been made.
 
Annie’s Lane Riesling 2006 Clare Valley
16.5
Drink 2007-10
Much the best Riesling from the Foster’s group. Lively lime flavours and real potential for development. Dry and typically Clare. 12.5

Barnaddown Run Shiraz 2002 Heathcote
15.5
Drink 2007-10
Still pretty chewy on the finish even after all this time. Quite pronounced acidity and, still, tannins. 15%

Barratt's Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Adelaide Hills
16
Drink 2007-08
Fine, lean though not the most exciting Adelaide Hills Sauvignon. In its favour: it’s not heavy and not sweet.

Jim Barry, The Florita Riesling 2007 Clare Valley
16.5
Drink 2008-13
Fine, dry and herbal – more extract than most. Should have an interesting future. 

Jim Barry, Macrae Wood 2004 Clare Valley
17
Drink 2008-12
Very rich and luscious and palatable with real energy.

Jim Barry, The Armagh 2004 Clare Valley
17+
Drink 2010-15
Deep bright crimson. Very full and slightly gritty finish. Dry rather than sweet and rich. Thick and still pretty severe. Bone dry. Wait.

Benson Rise, Cygne Blanc 2007 Mount Benson
15.5
Drink 2008-09
Here’s another example of the white-berried mutation of Cabernet Sauvignon selected in Western Australia and transplanted here on the Limestone Coast in the hope of selling on its novelty value. It smells curranty and rather like a rustic Sauvignon Blanc to me. Nothing wrong with it but I don’t think it’s worth the price. 

Berton Vineyard, Old Vine Semillon/Viognier 2006 SE Australia
16.5
Drink 2009-10
7% Viognier. Nice lime/grapefruit nose and grapefruit pith on the palate. Good depth of flavour. (JH) The Berton Vineyard, established in 1996, is in Eden Valley. The company has expanded since then and acquired a new winery in Yenda, Riverina, in 2006.

Berton Vineyard, Old Vine Shiraz/Viognier 2006 SE Australia
16
Drink 2008-10
5% Viognier. Fresh and juicy though slightly bitter on the finish. 14.5% (JH)

Berton Vineyard, The White, Viognier 2007 SE Australia
16.5
Drink 2008-09
Fresh apricots, pure and distinct varietal character throughout. Aromatic and quite good value at around £7.50. 14% (JH)

Berton Vineyard, The Black, Shiraz 2006 SE Australia
16.5
Drink 2008-10
Peppery, savoury, dark and mineral inflected. Alcohol is pretty high at 15% but not particularly intrusive. (JH)

Berton Vineyard, Reserve Chardonnay 2006 Eden Valley
16.5+
Drink 2008-10
Tasted very cold and I think it might show better if it were tasted or drunk less chilled, hence the plus. Floral (honeysuckle?) and brisk, with some textural weight thanks to barrel fermentation for a small portion of the wine. Pure citrussy length. 14.5% (JH)

Berton Vineyard, Reserve Cabernet 2005 Coonawarra
16.5+
Drink 2008-12
Classic sweet minty cassis, firm, dry ripe tannins. Classic and restrained Coonawarra fruit and well priced at around £9.99 in the UK. 14.5% (JH)

Berton Vineyard, Bonsai Shiraz 2004 High Eden
17
Drink 2008-12
Toasty oak and dark savoury fruit. Rich, dark and chocolatey. A juicy rich mouthful with a savoury, mineral length. 14.5% (JH)

Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2006 Eden Valley
15.5
Drink 2007-08
Lime sherbert flavoured and rather confected in an old fashioned off dry style. 12%. I just happen to have tasted and noted only this Riesling rather than any of the Wolf Blass red heavyweights.

Castagna, Genesis Syrah 2002 Beechworth
18
Drink 2006-10
Pale rim. Ver alluring nose with some sweetness but liquorice and no excess of alcohol or wood. Very subtle and Rhône-ish. Must take quite a bit of guts to make this style in Australia. A much more moderate wine than initial vintages. 13.5%. The 2002 may be out of circulation by now but just shows the evolution of this very interesting biodynamic producer up the road from Giaconda.

Ceravolo Estate, Sangiovese 2006 Adelaide Plains
15.5
Drink 2008-09
Pale lightweight and tangy – certainly recognisably Sangiovese of lunchtime Chianti rather than dinner time Chianti Classico Riserva variety. Useful at this price. 14%. .Like Joe Grilli’s family, the Ceravolo family came to the red soils of the hot plains north of Adelaide from Italy.

Ceravolo Estate, Petit Verdot 2006 Adelaide Plains
16
Drink 2008-09
Scented – peppery and violets – and very ripe. This would be useful to wine students to demonstrate what Petit Verdot unblended with other Bordeaux varieties tastes like and has more guts than most Riverland versions. Correct, very simple and unadorned by oak but well done. 15%. Won the ‘Best Other Variety’ trophy at the Royal Adelaide Show last year.

Ceravolo Estate, Shiraz 2004 Adelaide Plains
16
Drink 2007-10
The least distinctive of these wines. Salty with lots of acidity. Attractively fresh and not overdone but not desperately distinctive. 14.5%

Ceravolo Estate, Red Earth Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Adelaide Plains
15
Drink 2008-09
The Ceravolos’ ‘bistro label’. A bit tart and lean.

Chalkers Crossing Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Tumbarumba
16+
Drink 2008
Tight, fine-grained fruit with a strong citrus streak. Light, lime-flavoured and very easy to drink. French winemaker Celine Rousseau fashions these distinctive wines from vines first planted in 1997 in the cool wine regions of Tumbarumba and Hilltops by geologists Ted and Wendy Ambler.

Chalkers Crossing Semillon 2006 Hilltops
16.5
Drink 2008-10
Complete, herbal-scented fruity mouthful with potential for development and lots of refreshment value. Good value for money too. 13.5%

Chalkers Crossing Chardonnay 2006 Tumbarumba
15.5

Drink 2007-09
Very round and fruity but not as distinctive as the Semillon and Sauvignon.

Chalkers Crossing Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Hilltops
15
Drink 2006-08
Full, sweet and simple.

Chalkers Crossing Shiraz 2004 Hilltops
16
Drink 2007-09
Herbal scents to this cool climate Shiraz which almost tastes gassy. Certainly racy with notable acidity.

Reproduced with permission.  © Copyright 2000-2010 Jancis Robinson

 

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February 15th, 2008
 
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