The New Australian 250 - new winemakers to old vines

By Jancis Robinson
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Cellar door in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Cellar door in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales [©Tourism New South Wales]

Clonakilla Cellar Door, Canberra District, NSW

The next 25 in Jancis Robinson's New Australian 250 tasting notes series starts in the Hunter Valley, with Jim Chatto's own label.

Jim is one of the Hunter Valley’s group of younger talent, and makes substantial volumes of wine for other growers as well as his own label. 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.

Circus Series, Flying Trapeze Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Hunter
16
Drink 2008-09
Rather strange woody/grassy/nutty aromas. Then fresh and hints of lime on the palate. Pretty crisp. 13%

Circus Series, Cloud Swing Chardonnay 2006 Hunter
16
Drink 2008-09
Not sure if this just needs more time but the oak influence and the very fresh acidity do not seem to be totally married yet. 13.5%

Circus Series, High Wire Verdelho 2006 Hunter
16.5
Drink 2008-09
Notes of lime and honeysuckle. Tropical, lightly spiced and full bodied. Very rich and quite powerful.

Chatto Shiraz 2005 Pokolbin, Hunter
15.5
Drink 2008-10
Starts rather leafy then dominated by oak.

Chatto, Strong Man Shiraz 2004 New South Wales
15.5
Drink 2008-09
Fresh but rather tough, though it does have a nice meaty edge. 13%

Canberra Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2006 Canberra
18
Drink 2009-14
Very strong and inviting aromas of roast chicken and sage, with a touch of eucalyptus. Cool freshness and bags of character. Fine-grained tannins and fresh finish. Delicious.

Macedon Ranges Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay 2003 Macedon Ranges
16
Drink up
Nutty nose – nice bottle maturation and interest though I don’t think it would be wise to hang on to this. Obviously cool climate – just very slight oiliness starting to creep in to the finish. 14%

Cobaw Ridge Shiraz/Viognier 2003 Macedon Ranges
16
Drink 2010-13?
Bright crimson. Really fresh nose though not much complexity – a bit raw and callow. Will this go anywhere? 13.5%

Crawford River Riesling 2004 Henty
17
Drink 2007-10
Extremely pale. Wonderfully pure, classic nose and pure, fresh, well delineated fruit on the palate. Still fresh and youthful.

Crawford River Riesling 2005 Henty
17.5
Drink 2008-12
Racy, delicate. Spot-on and very focused. Great finesse. Lovely texture and balance.

Crawford River Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Henty
15.5
Drink ??
I can see why this hasn’t sold yet. It manages to be both sweet and austere – and overall to lack the great life and purity of the Rieslings. And yet where else in the world makes great Riesling and great Cabernet?

Cullen, Mangan Vineyard Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Margaret River
17
Drink 2008-10
Fresh and slightly grassy on the nose and then much riper fruit on the palate. Notable finesse and length. Margaret River's Vanya Cullen is a biodynamic leading light, not just of Margaret River but of Australia. 13.5%

Cullen, Diana Madeline Cabernet/Merlot 2005 Margaret River
17.5
Drink 2009-13
The blend includes 14% Cabernet Franc. Fresh and restrained on the nose, cedary elegance and a dry fine-grained texture. 14%

Cullen, Mangan 2006 Margaret River
18
Drink 2009-15
A blend of Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Dark, perfumed and chocolatey fruit overlaid with toasty oak, and a note of tar. Dark, very fine and long.

De Bortoli, Windy Peak Chardonnay 2006 Victoria
16+
Drink 2007-08
Excellent Chablis style – really racy. Not quite as minerally as a classic Chablis but wonderfully refreshing. Great value. 13% Of course Steve Webber makes a wonderful array of grander wines, but as Campbell Mattinson observes in Why The French Hate Us, the great thing is that he has progressed to such a point that he is perfectly happy to drink wines as modestly priced as this.

Digger’s Bluff, Seppeltsfield Digger’s Bluff, Top Dog Shiraz 2003 Barossa
17.5
Drink 2008-11
Brothers Tim and Travis O’Callaghan, Seppeltsfield. Named after Tim’s Rottweiler Digger. Sweet vanilla and lovely bramble fruit. Complex and deep, with some floral notes. Dark chocolate on a clean, long finish. 14.5%

Dutschke, St Jakobi Single Vineyard Shiraz 2005 Barossa Valley
15.5
Drink 2007-10
Dark crimson. Very sweet and salty and porty. Not distinguished though not desperately expensive. Tarry. Drying finish. 15%

Mac Forbes Arneis 2007 Yarra Valley
16.5
Drink 2008
Ripe and juicy. Much more flavour than many a Piemontese example, This wine has guts even if not a very long life. Good aperitif. Mac Forbes is from the Yarra Valley and has made wine at Mount Mary. He consults in Austria and has an affinity for these cooler corners of Victoria.

Mac Forbes Medium Riesling 2006 Strathbogie Ranges
15.5
Drink 2008-10
Sweet and round – not fine – a bit astringent, which is presumably why that sugar is there.

Mac Forbes, Woori Yallock Chardonnay 2006 Yarra Valley
15.5
Drink 2008-10
Slightly reduced nose. Bone dry. Could do with just a little more fruit in the middle but it certainly reverberates on the palate with all that fresh acidity.

Mac Forbes Barbera 2005 King Valley
16.5
Drink 2008-09
Powerful, interesting with a satsifyingly dry finish. More friendly than many Italian Barberas.

Mac Forbes, Woori Yallock Pinot Noir 2005 Yarra Valley
16
Drink 2007-09
Very pale red indeed. Soft easy with coffee overtones and even a bit of toffee. Very slightly losing fruit already? Don’t hang on to this too long.

Mac Forbes, Coldstream Pinot Noir 2005 Yarra Valley
16
Drink 2007-09
Very pale red. Spicy nose. Attractive flavours but could do with just a bit more zest and life.

Forest Hill Vineyard Riesling 2006 Great Southern
16+
Drink 2008-10
This is made from younger Riesling vines, but still has a pretty intense herbal nose and very fresh lime juice and undergrowth on the palate. Bone dry and made to be drunk with food. Good effort. 11.5%  This is the famous Western Australian vineyard originally planted in 1965 that has in its time provided fruit for some of the most awarded red wines in Australia. With Vasse felix it belonged to the late Robert Holmes a Court from 1989 to 1996 and now belongs to the Lyons family who are making wines themselves under the Forest Hill name. The Block series is designed to show off the finest, oldest blocks.

Forest Hill Vineyard, Block 1 Riesling 2006 Great Southern
16.5
Drink 2009-13
From vines planted in 1965 and only 800 cases made. Very intense nose positively reverberates with a very dry finish but I could do with a little more fruit in the middle and wonder whether the wine above isn’t better value. The 1975 vintage of this wine was famous on the national show circuit.11.5%

Forest Hill Vineyard, Indis Chardonnay/Viognier 2007 Great Southern
15
Drink 2008-09
Very young vines produce a competent but rather ordinary wine with some lolly character.

Forest Hill Vineyard, Indis Shiraz/Viognier 2005 Great Southern
15
Drink 20080-10
Rather fizzy, fine but not very exciting.

Forest Hill Vineyard, Block 9 Shiraz 2004 Great Southern
17.5
Drink 2008-12
Scented, dense and compact. Relatively soft fruit. Not at all like a Barossa Shiraz – a more marine, gentler, lighter version – quite delicate even with some mineral character. Utterly clean and fresh. Lots of interest here from vines planted in 1965. 13.5%

 

 

Reproduced with permission.  © Copyright 2000-2010 Jancis Robinson

 

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