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Australian Wine: Rebooting a Brand

2013 February 6

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF
1st major Australian wine tasting in San Francisco in over 5 years

Australia is the world’s seventh biggest wine producing country, ranking just below Argentina. It is also the fourth major wine exporting country, sending about two-thirds of its production outside the country. Production has decreased markedly, however, since the rapid decline in the demand for Australian wine, particularly its premium wines, in the U.S. and Britain, which started in 2008.

Australian wine developed a serious image problem due to heavy reliance on cheaply priced “brands” led by the ubiquitous Yellow Tail, which sports a stylized wallaby on its label. The huge success of that wine, which accounts for almost half of Australia’s sales in the U.S. market, led to many other low priced “critter” names and labels by competing Aussie producers.

Many of Australia’s wines were also overhyped with inflated scores in the early years of this century by then leading critic Robert Parker. The esteemed dean of Australian wine writing, James Halliday, famously responded in 2005 to Parker’s effusive Aussie reviews and high ratings by pointing out that they varied wildly from the results of tastings by Australia’s critics and wine show judges. He also referred to the “monstrous red wines so beloved of Robert Parker.”

When consumers rushed to buy these highly rated wines, they often found they were high alcohol fruit bombs that were virtually impossible to pair with meals and not likely to age very well. Wine connoisseurs in the U.S. and the U.K. precipitously stopped buying Aussie wines, causing the value of Oz imports here to drop by 23% in 2008 alone. As bottles of Australian wine proceeded to disappear from retailers shelves, cheap bulk wine sales took up the slack. By 2012, Australia was shipping 49% of its total wine exports in bulk, compared with only 13% ten years earlier.

Severe weather conditions in the last several years have also hampered production. Meanwhile, the high value of the Australian dollar especially against the falling Euro has led to decreasing prices and increasing sales for fine European wines Down Under, further weakening demand for Aussie wine even on its home turf.

Despite these setbacks, Australia has a lot going for it as a producer of fine wines. The country is home to what may be the world’s greatest wine scientific research organization—the Australian Wine Research Institute, or AWRI, which is funded by the Australian wine industry. The country has lots of talented winemakers, many of whom work not only in Australia but also travel to consult and assist with harvest in other wine producing regions in Australia’s off season. They have some great old vine plantings, especially of Syrah (known in Australia as Shiraz) and Grenache. They also have a culture of innovation, and are responsible for important recent developments in the wine world, such as the careful control of the amount of light and shade received by grapes due to the shielding effect of the grape leaves, a practice known as canopy management.

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF
Angela Slade, North American Regional Director of Wine Australia

The national government wine agency, Wine Australia, has formulated a strategy to rebrand and improve the global position of Australian wines by putting a renewed emphasis on quality, diversity and value. Toward this end, they have launched a series of education and engagement programs aimed at convincing opinion leaders and consumers in key markets there is “more to discover about Australian wine.” The hope is that once the European and U.S. currencies regain strength against the Australian dollar, Australian wines will have generated new interest to attract sales especially at the artisanal and premium wine levels.

A direct manifestation of this new campaign was the appearance in San Francisco last month of the first major tasting here of Australian wines for the media and trade since 2007. The program included seminars and appearances by a number of small production winemakers who have developed a strong reputation for quality within Australia.

The event, held at San Francisco’s Farallon Restaurant, was packed with curious attendees wondering just what is going on with wine in an important region that had essentially fallen off our radar here in the last five years.

I was fortunate to get counsel from one of the U.S.’s top experts on Australian wine, J.J. Buckley’s Chuck Hayward, on what to focus on amongst the 200 wines being poured during the limited three-hour period for tasting. In all, I managed to sample a total of 88 wines from 46 different producers.

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF
J.J. Buckley’s Chuck Hayward on the right

The event’s organizers really did put the country’s best foot forward, featuring a diverse and interesting collection of wines that have a relatively long tradition Down Under but that are rarely seen here, liked aged Semillons and dry Rieslings. Andrew Thomas and Brokenwood are two top producers of Semillion, and I was particularly impressed by an aromatic, lemon oil scented 2005 Brokenwood Reserve bottling. Petaluma was the producer of the best Riesling I tasted at the event, a delicious single vineyard bottling from South Australia’s Clare Valley.

Chardonnay is the most widely grown white grape in Australia, and there were many appealing examples being poured, from producers such as Bindi, BK, Giant Steps, Henschke, Petaluma and Vasse Felix.

Another revelation of the tasting were a few very characterful Aussie Pinot Noirs. I had previously tried several vintages of Pinot Noir from Bindi, a longtime specialist in the varietal, and their 2008 Block 5 was a strong offering, with scents of roses and tart red fruit. I had never heard of BK Wines, however, which made two fascinating, delicious, cool climate Pinots poured at Farallon: a 2011 from Gower Vineyard and a 2012 from Adelaide Hills called Skin n Bones.

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF
Brandon Keys of BK Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon is Australia’s second most widely planted red grape, after Shiraz, and there were strong examples from First Drop and Vasse Felix, along with a very good Bordeaux blend from Moss Wood called Amy’s.

The aforementioned old vine Grenache was put to flavorful effect in a couple of bottlings that really got my attention—a 2012 Ochota Barrels The Fugazi, which was produced using no new oak, and the top wine for me of the entire tasting, the 2011 Noon Eclipse. The Noon had been one of those intense, richly fruited wines highly rated by Parker in the last decade, but this sample was much more complex and intriguing than I remembered from those earlier vintages. It’s a blend of 81% old vine Grenache, 13% old vine Shiraz and 6% Graciano. The Kaesler 2008 GSM Stonehorse, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, was also very appealing.

Of course there were also some excellent Shirazes, Australia’s most widely planted grape. The best for me at this tasting were the 2010 BK Wines CULT, the 2009 Henschke Euphonium Keyneton (a Shiraz blend), 2009 Holme Estate, 2009 Rusden Black Guts and a very unusual, intentionally oxidative 2010 “Syrah” from Sami-Odi called Hoffmann Dallwitz 0.534.

All in all, this was an exciting sampling that included many characterful and intensely flavored but balanced wines. Wines like those from BK Wines, First Drop, Ochota Barrels and Sami-Odi had singular and distinct “voices” that made me want to hear a lot more from those producers. Judging not only from my reaction but the general buzz in the room and discussions with colleagues afterwards, I think this event went a long way toward initiating the process of rebranding Aussie wines in this country.

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

Although the strength of the Australian dollar is likely to keep the more artisanal offerings from being particularly good values here in the near term, I think the uniqueness and high quality of some of these wines is going to get them some strong attention here. It may take several years to turn around Australia’s reputation as being a source mainly of cheap and simple “critter” wines, but greater exposure for the kinds of wines highlighted at this event should definitely help the country regain its reputation for producing high quality wines.

For my tasting notes and scores on all 88 wines I sampled at this event, see below.

NEXT CHAPTER WINE AUSTRALIA TRADE TASTING – Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco, California (1/14/2013)

All Saints

  • 2010 All Saints Estate Marsanne – Australia, Victoria, North East, Rutherglen
    Bright light medium canary yellow color; poached pear, tart apple nose; tasty, tart pear, tart apple, mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 All Saints Estate Durif – Australia, Victoria, North East, Rutherglen
    Very dark ruby color; aromatic, savory, roasted plum, baked cherry nose; tasty, tight, tart black fruit, charcoal, dried herbs palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Andrew Thomas

Angove’s

  • 2012 Angove’s Moscato Nine Vines – Australia, South Australia
    Light yellow color; aromatic, ripe pear, ripe peach nose; sweet, ripe pear, ripe peach palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • NV Angove’s Pink Zibibbo Moscato – Australia, South Australia
    Light medium cherry red color; lifted, ripe cherry, tart apricot nose; ripe cherry, tart apricot palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Angove’s Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard Select – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
    Very dark red violet color; tart black currant, menthol nose; tart black currant, menthol, light pepper palate; medium finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Between Five Bells

  • 2011 Between Five Bells – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Geelong
    Light yellow color; tart pear, pear skin, nutty nose; tart apple, tart lemon, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Between Five Bells Red – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Geelong
    Light medium cherry red color; odd, VA, pepper nose; green pepper, bell pepper, pyrazines palate; medium-plus finish (92% Shiraz, with Mourvedre, Grenache and white grapes) (87 pts.)

Bindi

  • 2006 Bindi Chardonnay Composition – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Macedon Ranges
    Light medium yellow color; leesy, lemon oil nose; appealing, lemon cream, tart pear, pear cream palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Bindi Pinot Noir Block 5 – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Macedon Ranges
    Light medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; floral, roses, rosehips nose; tasty, rosehips, tart red fruit, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

BK Wines

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2010 BK Wines Chardonnay Ma Fleur Single Barrel – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Piccadilly Valley
    Light yellow color; lemon curd, nutty nose; tasty, rich, tart lemon curd, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2010 BK Wines Chardonnay Swaby – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Piccadilly Valley
    Light straw yellow color; aromatic, leesy, hazelnut nose; tasty, lemon oil, hazelnut palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2012 BK Wines Chardonnay Kenton Valley One Ball Single Vineyard – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills
    Light medium yellow color; tart apple, tart poached pear nose; tart apple, tart pear palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2011 BK Wines Pinot Noir Gower – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Lenswood
    Light medium cherry red color with 1.5 millimeter clear meniscus; aromatic, dried strawberry, floral, saline nose; tasty, delicate, tart dried strawberry, dried cherry, floral, rosehips palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2010 BK Wines Syrah CULT – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Dark cherry red color; redolent, pepper, tar, roasted black fruit nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, pepper, tar, roasted black fruit palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 93+ points (93 pts.)
  • 2012 BK Wines Pinot Noir Skin n Bones – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; floral, roses, rosehips nose; tart cranberry, roses, rosehips, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Brokenwood

  • 2011 Brokenwood Sémillon – Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
    Light yellow color; aromatic, lemon oil nose; tasty, tart lemon oil, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Brokenwood Sémillon ILR Reserve – Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
    Light lemon yellow color; aromatic, savory, lemon oil nose; rich, poised, lemon oil, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 92+ points (10.5% alcohol) (92 pts.)

Charles Cimicky

  • 2010 Charles Cimicky Shiraz Trumps – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark ruby color; ripe currant, brett nose; ripe currant, brett palate; medium-plus finish (87 pts.)

Dandelion

De Iuliis

  • 2011 De Iuliis Sémillon – Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
    Light medium lemon yellow color; savory, light caraway seed nose; tasty, delicate, light lemon, mineral, light fennel palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 De Iuliis Shiraz – Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley
    Dark red violet color; baked berry, lightly smoky, red berry nose; savory, smoky, tart plum, smoked gouda palate; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Eldridge

  • 2010 Eldridge Estate Chardonnay North Patch – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Mornington Peninsula
    Light lemon yellow color; appealing, tart lemon, tart apple nose; rich but balanced, ripe lemon, tart pear, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Eldridge Estate Pinot Noir – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Mornington Peninsula
    Light medium cherry red color with 1 millimeter clear meniscus; appealing, floral, hibiscus, rosehips nose; tart dried cherry, rosehips, roses, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (30% new French oak, 6 clones) (91 pts.)

First Drop

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2010 First Drop Cabernet Sauvignon Mother’s Ruin – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Opaque red violet color; savory, tobacco, bacon fat nose; tasty, unusual, dried berry, tar, very tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Giant Steps

  • 2011 Giant Steps Chardonnay Sexton Vineyard – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley
    Light medium yellow color; leesy, hazelnut, almond nose; leesy, hazelnut, almond, tart lemon palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Glaetzer

  • 2010 Glaetzer Shiraz Grenache Wallace – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Opaque red violet color; baked black fruit, berry nose; tart baked black fruit, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Glaetzer Shiraz The Bishop – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Opaque red violet color; ethereal, baked black fruit, roasted plum nose; plush, roasted plum, tart black fruit, tar palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Harkham Windarra

Heggies

  • 2011 Heggies Vineyard Chardonnay – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light lemon yellow color; appealing, tart apple, tart peach nose; tasty, fresh, poised, tart lemon, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Henry’s Drive

  • 2008 Henry’s Drive Shiraz Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway
    Opaque red violet color; lifted, eucalyptus, tart red plum nose; eucalyptus, tart red plum palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Henry’s Drive Shiraz Dead Letter Office – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway
    Very dark ruby color; tart currant, bell pepper nose; tart currant, bell pepper palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Henschke

  • 2012 Henschke Riesling Julius – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light medium yellow color; tart apple nose; very tart apple, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Henschke Chardonnay Croft – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Lenswood
    Light yellow color; appealing, lemon oil, tart pear nose; oily textured, tart pear, lemon oil palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Henschke Euphonium Keyneton Estate – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Very dark ruby color; appealing, ripe black currant, blackberry nose; rich but poised, ripe black currant, blackberry palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Holme

  • 2009 Holme Estate Cellars Shiraz – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Mt. Benson
    Opaque red violet color; redolent, pepper, roasted figs nose; tar, roasted black fruit, dried fig palate; medium-plus finish (there’s something primordial and archaic about this wine, quite unusual) (93 pts.)

Imprimata

  • 2010 Imprimata Proprietary Red – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Opaque red violet color; baked black fruit, ripe black fruit nose; baked black fruit, tart berry, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish (blend of Shiraz and Petite Syrah) (90 pts.)

Innocent Bystander

  • 2011 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir – Australia, Victoria
    Medium cherry red color with pale meniscus; rosehips, sous bois nose; rosehips, sous bois, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Innocent Bystander Shiraz Mea Culpa – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley
    Dark ruby color; roasted plum, pepper nose; tasty, roasted plum, tart black fruit, pepper palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (only 13% alcohol) (91 pts.)

Jansz Wine Company

  • NV Jansz Wine Company Premium Rosé Brut – Australia, Tasmania
    Light lemon yellow color with sparkle; appealing, baked lemon, yeasty nose; oily textured, lemon, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points 9blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier) (88 pts.)

Jim Barry

  • 2012 Jim Barry Riesling The Lodge Hill – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
    Light yellow color; very tart pear, tart apple nose; very tart pear, tart apple palate; medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2006 Jim Barry Shiraz McCrae Wood – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
    Dark ruby color; black currant syrup, tart berry nose; black currant syrup, tart berry palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)

John Duval

  • 2010 John Duval Wines Plexus – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark ruby color; ripe berry, tart cherry nose; oak, baked cherry, baked black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2010 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Opaque red violet color; baked plum, black fruit, baked berry nose; baked black fruit, baked berry palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Kaesler

  • 2008 Kaesler GSM Stonehorse – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark ruby color; redolent, roasted plum, licorice, charcoal nose; complex, charcoal, baked berry, licorice palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Kilikanoon

  • 2011 Kilikanoon Riesling Mort’s Block – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Watervale
    Light medium yellow color; aromatic, tart pear, lemon nose; oily textured, tart pear, lemon, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)

Langmeil

  • 2011 Langmeil Three Gardens – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark ruby color; pepper, roasted fruit nose; pepper, roasted black fruit, mineral palate; medium finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Langmeil Cabernet Sauvignon The Blacksmith – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark ruby color; lifted, tart black currant, green pepper nose; tart black current, green pepper palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Langmeil Hangin’ Snakes – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Dark ruby color; tart plum, light pepper nose; pepper, tart black fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Leeuwin

  • 2010 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Prelude – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Light medium yellow color; tart lemon, tart pear nose; juicy, tart pear, lemon, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Moorooduc

Moss Wood

  • 2011 Moss Wood Semilion Sauvignon Blanc Ribbon Vale – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Light yellow color aromatic, tart lemon, oily nose; tasty, oily textured, savory, lemon oil, lime, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Moss Wood Amy’s – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Dark ruby color; intense red fruit, light pepper, tart red currant nose; red fruit, light pepper, tart red currant palate; medium-plus finish (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot) (92 pts.)

Noon

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2011 Noon Eclipse – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; redolent, intriguing, roasted black fruit, charcoal, cracked pepper, tar nose; rich, deep, intense, roasted black fruit, tar, cracked pepper, tar palate; good now and should age well; medium-plus finish (15.5% alcohol; 81% Grenache, 13% Shiraz, 6% Graciano)

Ochota Barrels

  • 2012 Ochota Barrels the green room – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; redolent, bark, roasted fruit nose; tart red fruit, tart cherry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2012 Ochota Barrels Grenache The Fugazi – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Medium dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; appealing, focused, cherry, raspberry nose; tasty, Pinot-like, juicy, tart cherry, tart raspberry, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (70-day skin maceration, no new oak) (93 pts.)
  • 2012 Ochota Barrels Shiraz Shellac Vineyard – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Medium dark ruby color; fresh, tart black fruit, charcoal nose; fresh, tart black fruit, charcoal, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)

Petaluma

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2012 Petaluma Riesling Hanlin Hill – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Clare Valley
    Light yellow color; tart pear, tart apple nose; rich, creamy textured, juicy, tart apple, tart pear palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Petaluma Chardonnay – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Piccadilly Valley
    Light golden yellow color; light hazelnut, almond nose; rich, poised, hazelnut, ripe lemon palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Pewsey Vale

  • 2012 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling Eden Valley – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light lemon yellow color; ripe Bosch pear, floral nose; tasty, creamy textured, lemon, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (90 pts.)
  • 2007 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling The Contours Museum Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light medium canary yellow color; very aromatic, petrol, mineral nose; petrol, tart apple, tart pear, mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Pfeiffer

Pyren

  • 2010 Pyren Cabernet Sauvignon Broken Quartz – Australia, Victoria, Western Victoria, Pyrenees
    Dark ruby color; unusual, lightly smoky, roasted red fruit nose; fresh, juicy, tart raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (12.8% alcohol) (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Pyren Shiraz Broken Quartz – Australia, Victoria, Western Victoria, Pyrenees
    Dark red violet color; aromatic, pepper, roasted plum, tart red fruit nose; juicy, pepper, roasted plum, tart red fruit palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (13.5% alcohol) (91 pts.)

Rusden

  • 2009 Rusden Shiraz Black Guts – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark red violet color; aromatic, smoky, roasted black fruit, espresso nose; tobacco, espresso, roasted plum, tobacco palate; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)

Sami-Odi

Samuel’s Gorge

  • 2009 Samuel’s Gorge Grenache – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Medium dark ruby color; appealing, fresh, baked cherry, clove nose; fresh, baked cherry, clove, tart black fruit palate with character; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Samuel’s Gorge Shiraz – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Very dark red violet color; chocolate, ripe black fruit nose; rich, chocolate, ripe black fruit palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Shirvington

  • 2008 Shirvington Shiraz – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Very dark red violet color; roasted plum, tart black fruit nose; roasted plum, tart black fruit, oak palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

St Hallett

  • 2011 St Hallett Riesling – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light yellow color; tart peach, savory nose; tart peach, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Stonier

  • 2007 Stonier Chardonnay – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Mornington Peninsula
    Light medium yellow color; tart pear, mature nose; mature, ripe pear, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Tahbilk

  • 2011 Tahbilk Marsanne – Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Nagambie Lakes
    Light medium yellow color; appealing, poached pear, almond, ripe peach nose; rich, flavorful, oily textured, ripe peach, mineral palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Tahbilk Marsanne Museum Release – Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Nagambie Lakes
    Light medium yellow color; aromatic, lifted, petrol, witch hazel nose; oily textured, lemon oil, citrus, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Tahbilk Viognier Nagambie Lakes – Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Nagambie Lakes
    Light lemon yellow color; aromatic, floral nose; tart pear, tart peach palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Tahbilk Shiraz – Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Nagambie Lakes
    Dark ruby color; baked black fruit, roasted plum nose; baked black fruit, roasted plum grilled black currant palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Torbreck

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2011 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Roussane Viognier Marsanne – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    Light yellow color; tart peach, tart pear nose; tight, tart peach, tart pear palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Torbreck Shiraz Woodcutter’s – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark red violet color; appealing, roasted plum, pepper nose; tasty, roasted plum, pepper palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Torbreck (Cuvée) Juveniles – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Cloudy, very dark red violet color; roasted plum, hickory, pepper nose; roasted plum, hickory, pepper palate; medium finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Torbreck The Steading – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Very dark red violet color; roasted plum, tart black fruit nose; tasty, roasted plum, tart black fruit palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Torbreck Shiraz The Struie – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Opaque red violet color; roasted black fruit, pepper, tobacco nose; tight, roasted black fruit, pepper, tobacco palate; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Vasse Felix

1/14/13 Australian Wine Tasting SF

  • 2011 Vasse Felix Chardonnay Heytesbury – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Light yellow color; hazelnut, toasted coconut nose; tasty, rich, oily textured, hazelnut, tart lemon, toasted coconut palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2011 Vasse Felix Chardonnay Margaret River – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Light medium yellow color; appealing, leesy, hazelnut nose; tasty, tart lemon, mineral, hazelnut palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Dark ruby color; appealing, tart black currant, menthol nose; tart black currant, menthol palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon Heytesbury – Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    Very dark ruby color; appealing, tart black currant, menthol nose; tart black currant, menthol palate with good extract; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)

Wirra Wirra

  • 2009 Wirra Wirra Shiraz Viognier – Catapult – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Opaque red violet color; black pepper, tart black fruit, hickory nose; black pepper, tart black fruit, hickory palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy Grosz permalink
    February 13, 2013

    Richard, I’m delighted to see a glimmer of hope for Australia, which has been mistreated and abandoned by wine lovers who should know better. I’ve taken some real treasures to wine dinners, a 2005 Grant Burge Semillion, a ’94 Crawford River Chardonnay (museum release), Henschke’s ’02 Tappa Pass, a 2002 Armagh, 1996 Wendouree Shiraz and hoping to get some positive recognition and appreciation…only to be ignored. I think some people are simply too embarrassed to enjoy these magnificent treasures. I shall keep drinking them in a dimly lit cellar with a few other oeno-troglodytes. Cheers!

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      February 13, 2013

      Andy,

      Thank you for your comments here. I really wish we didn’t live so far apart these days, as I miss seeing you and learning from you, especially about Australian wines. The greatest Aussie wine I’ve ever tasted, that 1999 Rockford Shiraz SVS Flaxman Valley I rated 99 points, was one that you poured at your house.

      I hope I do get to see you either in L.A. or up here within the year.

      All the best,
      Richard

      • Andy Grosz permalink
        February 14, 2013

        Richard,

        That Rockford SVS came in a three pack with two other single-vineyard releases–which I still have. If you’re planning a trip and would like to get together for a small dinner, I would be happy to open one.

        Best regards,

        Andy

  2. February 27, 2013

    I just read your post on “the Patch” and commented there too. Great reading this article…

    Thanks so much for this article! A few months ago, I had the opportunity to try some Australian wines and I noticed that gone were the bigger, over-oaked wines that I remember, instead were some balanced, flavorful wines that I hope to try again soon. Luke Lambert 2010 Syrah from Yarra Valley was very good; also a Pewsey Vale “the Contours” Riesling that I loved; it was a 2006.

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      February 27, 2013

      Lynne,
      Thank you for reading the piece, and for your kind comment. I’m glad you’ve had a good experience recently with those Australian wines. I’ll have to look for the Luke Lambert. They’ll definitely be making a resurgence here, but it will take a few years. There’s just too much talent Down Under, though, for us wine lovers to ignore them just because some of the very hyped wines here some years ago were so big and overoaked.

      –Richard

  3. November 26, 2013

    Awesome blog! Is your theme custom made or did
    you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine.
    Please let me know where you got your design.
    Kudos

    • Richard Jennings permalink*
      November 26, 2013

      Thank you for the kind words on the blog design. I always feel that’s the weakest part of the blog, as I’m primarily a writer, not a designer. The theme is the Vigilance PRO Child Theme, version 1.41, from the Theme Foundry.
      –Richard

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