Notes and impressions from an Australian tasting - Saturday, Jan 20, 2001, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty-two wines were poured for a tasting fee of $23.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1999 Quartetto Semillon - Clare Valley. $15.99. Faint, but slightly yellow color. High-toned nose of lemon, lime, with just a hint of butterscotch. Crisp mouthfeel, smoky and citrusy flavors, with very little grassy component, and a long finish. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Primo Estate Shiraz/Sangiovese Il Briccone - South Australia. $14.99. Medium garnet-ruby color. Big nose of sweet black cherry, strawberry and raspberry, with a buttery component, and a hint of leaf/stem. Tasty chewy mouthfeel, dry and somewhat astringent, but with an overriding sweetness to the abundant fruit, and long finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Torbreck The Steading - Barossa Valley. $39.99. Dark ruby color. Deep and intense nose of cassis, raspberry, oak, cheese, floral and shoe polish-like aromas. Smooth, concentrated and chewy mouthfeel, slightly off-sweet fruit, nice long finish that seems the tiniest bit thin toward the end. Grenache/Shiraz blend. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Lashmar Cabernet Sauvignon - Kangaroo Island, SA. $44.99. Dark garnet-ruby color. Nose of cassis, oak, cheese, chalk, earth, minerals, and a hint of lima bean. Big and astringent mouthfeel, slightly hot initially, leading to moderate off-sweet fruit at mid-palate, and long smoky finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Henry's Drive Cabernet Sauvignon - Padthaway, SA. $36.99. Dark ruby-garnet color. Nose of rich and ripe cassis/black cherry, with a spiced sweet-sour aroma and a buttered toast note. Chewy off-sweet mouthfeel, substantial mid-palate, slightly less-so in latter palate, with a toasty oak flavor through the very long finish. Aroma score: A Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1998 Rusden Cabernet Sauvignon Boundaries - Barossa $44.99. Dark ruby color. Initially herbaceous nose picks up a bit of leaf, stem, and sweet-sour fruit, along with toasted oak and spice. Slightly sweet-sour and chewy mouthfeel, tasty mid-palate, very long and toasty finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Noon Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Langhorne Creek, SA. $n/a. Very dark purple-ruby color. Massive nose of fruit, oak, and cheese, with lots of lingering paint-like aromas. Tasty sweet-sour fruit, substantial mouthfeel, long chewy rich finish, that seems surprisingly free of tannins. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1998 Rosemount Shiraz/Cabernet Mountain Blue - Mudgee, New South Wales. $35.99. Very dark garnet-ruby color. Somewhat oaky and herbaceous black cherry nose. Spicy mouthfeel, with flavors of black cherry, cassis, and a bit of cranberry. Very nice balance, long finish. 70/30 Shiraz/Cab. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Fox Creek JSM - McLaren Vale, SA. $34.99. Very dark garnet-ruby color. Nicely integrated nose of spiced fruit, oak, and toast. Full and chewy mouthfeel, flavors of toast and sweet-sour fruit, very good balance, nice long chewy finish. Cab Franc/Shiraz blend. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Parson's Flat Shiraz/Cabernet - Padthaway, SA. $39.99. Dark violet ruby color. Lovely nose of toasted oak, spicy fruit, with just a touch of coconut meat. A hint of rubber crops up in the empty glass. So, I'd tend to keep the glass full. Chewy mouthfeel, with a firm backbone of oak and acids supporting the nice sweet fruit. 67/33 Shiraz/Cab. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1997 Elderton CSM - Barossa, SA. $29.99. Medium-dark garnet-ruby color. Sweet, ripe raspberry, cassis, and toast nose. Smooth mouthfeel, with just a bit of astringency, flavors of raspberry, spices, and burnished oak. There's almost an old-vine Zin quality to the mouthfeel and finish. 60/30/10 Cab/Shiraz/Merlot Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Summerfield Shiraz - Victoria. $35.99. Medium-dark violet-ruby color. Deep integrated nose of sweet dark fruit, toasted oak, pepper and spice. Full mouthfeel, sweet-sour fruit consistent from entry through mid-palate, leading to a rather brief finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Wild Duck Creek Estate Shiraz Springflat - Heathcote, Victoria. $56.99. Dark purple-ruby color. Slightly restrained nose, with background notes of spiced blackberry, black cherry and oak. Less than effusive on the palate, giving the impression of a surprisingly simple mouthfeel and moderate palate coverage. It could be that this one is just lying low, waiting for maturity. But, right now it's firing blanks. 15% alcohol. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Clos Clare Shiraz - Clare Valley, SA. $29.99. Deep purple-ruby color. Slightly herbaceous nose of blackberry, mocha and toast. Chewy mouthfeel, slightly sweet-sour fruit, very long tasty finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1998 Waninga Shiraz - Clare Valley, SA. $23.99. Deep garnet-ruby color. Herbaceous nose of ripe and burnished fruit, mocha, stems, smoke and toast. Sweet and chewy mouthfeel, ripe and burnished quality to the fruit, long sweet-sour finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Longwood Shiraz - McLaren Vale, SA. $23.99. Deep purple-ruby color. Nose of spiced blackberry/raspberry, that seems a bit simple and slightly tart. Lots of chewy sweet-sour fruit on the palate, with a medium-long finish. Though enjoyable, the wine has a general overall tartness to both the nose and mouth that make it less appealing. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1999 Clarendon Hills Shiraz Moritz Vnyd - Clarendon, SA. $41.99. Dark garnet-ruby color. Slightly rubberized quality to the herbaceous, smoky, stemmy and well-oaked nose. Chewy, sweet and smooth mouthfeel through mid-palate, develops a chunkiness from latter palate and through very long finish. Also seems to pick up a bit of asparagus. Unusual profile and an interesting wine. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1998 Rosemount Syrah Balmoral - McLaren Vale. $35.99. Very dark ruby-garnet color. Slightly tart, big spicy nose. Big and chewy mouthfeel through mid-palate, although the fruit seemed less intense through very long finish. This appeared to be a smoother/softer version over previous Blamorals. Don't know if this is a stylistic change or what. (Pre-arrival taste.) Aroma score: B+ Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1998 Kurtz Family Shiraz Boundary Row - Barossa Valley, SA. $18.99. Dark ruby-garnet color. Big nose of spiced blackberry, chocolate, cassis and shoe polish-like aromas, along with some leaf and stem notes. Full, big and chewy mouthfeel, with blackberry-filled Cadbury bar flavors and a very long finish. Nice job. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1999 Eden Springs Shiraz - Barossa, SA. $24.99. Very dark ruby-violet color. Beautiful rose petal and blueberry compote nose, with additional aromas of toasted oak and cinnamon. Full and moderately chewy mouthfeel, with lots of spiced blackberry/blueberry flavors, integrated with lighter flavors of mocha and toast, and very long finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1999 Hare's Chase Shiraz - Barossa Valley, SA. $n/a. Black violet color. Nose of cassis, blackberry, licorice, and chocolate. Huge chewy mouthfeel, lots of blackberry and bittersweet chocolate flavors, very long finish. The nose of this behemoth is absolutely killer. The mouth, while no slouch, is a bit monolithic at this time. But, this is a beautiful bottle of wine. Probably about $65. Aroma score: A Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
NV De Bortoli Black Noble - Australia. $23.99. (375ml). Tawny butterscotch color. Very effusive spiced butterscotch, caramel apple nose. Smooth, somewhat thick, spicy mouthfeel, very long finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
Overall impressions: well, another monster Aussie tasting - this time with a lot of '99s in the lineup. In general, I found the '99s to be less over-the-top -- less over-ripeness, and more balance. My top 5 wines in this flight were all fabulous, with the Henry's Drive being the standout, and much more impressive than the '98 version. The Hare's Chase is a beautiful, if also a pricey (~$65) and difficult to find wine. The Kurtz Family Shiraz was the best bargain in the bunch, with the Eden Springs being a very close second. Another impressive wine was the Shiraz/Sangio blend, Primo Estate. The Clos Clare and the Waninga we also very nice efforts, and priced well.
Surprises, or wines I thought would have been better: the Noon, Wild Duck Creek, and the Balmoral. Maybe it's just too soon for these guys to show their stuff. They were all nice enough, but just not spectacular. And, at the price level of some of them, they ought to be spectacular. Once again, for me the Rusden and Torbreck Steading were nice -- just not killer.
Here is my order of preference, listed in order and by tier, of the wines tasted.
1999 Henry's Drive Cabernet Sauvignon - Padthaway, SA. $36.99.
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