Tag Archives: South Australia

McLaren Vale Wine – Wirra Wirra (White Wines and Sweet Wines)

Greg Trott had a vision – one part of the vision is now shown in the Wirra Wirra legacy (Greg is now deceased) and the other was for his beloved McLaren Vale.  His views can be summarised in the below inscription.

Greg Trott Inscription

This week I will review the White Wines and the Sweet Wines.  Next week I will review the red wines and the cellar door in general.

2011 Scrubby Rise Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and Viognier ($15)

Interestingly the Semillon was dominate here, both with the aromas and the flavours. So this wine is all about the grassiness and hay with just a hint of the tropical fruits that warmer climate Sauvignon can bring. Not the most complex of wines, but this is not what the Scrubby Rise range is for – this is a drink now on a sunny Sunday afternoon with friends.

2011 Scrubby Rise Unwooded Chardonnay ($15)

A short lived wine that just does not give you a sense of wanting to come back for more. For me I am not enjoying the unwooded Chardonnay movement – give me a little Chardy oak every time!

2011 Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc ($22)

From the Adelaide Hills and is definitely a step up. There are green passionfruit and grassy aromas with a finish of wet hay. The flavours are typical with all the passionfruit and grass finish. There is an interesting melon character on the mid palate which makes me think there is a little Chardonnay added.

2012 The Last Watch Riesling ($20)

An Adelaide Hills offering that shows florals (mainly honeysuckle) and the acidity of green apples on the nose. Flavours show a little residual sugar with florals and lingering citrus acids. This wine is a lot softer than the Clare Valley Rieslings that I am enjoying at the moment and I suspect many people will enjoy it.

2008 The Last Watch Riesling ($20)

Great to see a winery keeping some Riesling back for a few years and actually having it for tasting so many people can experience the difference a few years can make to this classic white wine. The nose I’d dominated with lime rind aromas. The flavours show he slight kerosine, developed citrus peel on the mid palate with a pleasant finish of lemon rind. This is a good example of a slightly aged wine and will not appeal to all – but it does to me.

2011 The 12th Man Chardonnay ($31.50)

Made from Adelaide Hills fruit and yes, there is oak involved. The aromas were based around clean melon and cedar oak balances all wrapped up in an interesting bacon fat sensation. The oak is not overpowering on the rest of the flavours. The acid levels are excellent and the whole deal just lingers for so long. Yes folks this wine is so much better for the oak treatment.

2011 Mrs Wigley Grenache Rose ($18)

The fairy floss aroma made me think this wine was just going to be about the sugar. How wrong I was. The flavours showed some bitterness but this actually added complexity to the wine. The spiciness of the Grenache comes through as well. From a difficult vintage this wine will appeal as soon as the warmer weather kicks back in.

N/V The Anthem Sparkling Shiraz ($27.50)

The result of 7 different vintages being blended with some Vintage Port added to give that final touch.  Aromas of licorice, a gambit of spices and a sense of depth.  Flavours of spiced plum with hints of licorice and a real richness on the back palate (from the Vintage Port).  This wine was brought back after production being ceased – all because of the drinking public demand.  We are richer for this change.

2010 The Empire Series Botrytis Semillon ($30)

A 500 mL bottle filled with goldness from Adelaide Hills fruit.  All the apricots one expects but there is a hay aroma indicating the Semillon heritage.  The palate is not cloying even though there is a lot of sugar here.

2007 Sparrows Lodge Vintage Port ($28)

Packaged in a 375mL bottle.  Half of the wine was fortified while still on skins and the other half after pressing – adding complexity.  The wine is all about licorice and alcohol.  Lots of flavour here and lighter than expected.

N/V The Empire Series Muscat ($30)

In a word – luscious!

McLaren Vale Wine – 2010 Inkwell Shiraz

For those of you that have been following both the Lonely Grape blog and now the Taste McLaren Vale blog will probably know the name Inkwell.  I have been following Inkwell and more importantly the owner – Dudley Brown, for as long as I have been back in the Vale.  I have always thought it was “interesting” that an American from California has a vineyard in McLaren Vale!  The other thing that draws me in is Dudley’s passion towards the wine industry in general and McLaren Vale in particular.

The other item I enjoy with Dudley is the Inkell wines.  I have enjoyed his Shiraz since my exposure to the 2008 Shiraz.  I also like the journey regarding the Zinfandel from his vineyard.  Each vintage that produced a wine so different from the previous.  To me showing not only the normal vintage variation but also the understanding of the vineyard.

Anyway I should discuss the wine in question.  The bottle I had was a Cleanskin so I do not have a bottle shot, however I have shown the inspiration for the label – the inkwell ink dot!

Inkwell Label

2010 Inkwell Shiraz ($30)

The first thing one notices is the colour or more correct the colour density.  This wine is almost inky in concentration.  So dense in fact that the wine needed more than 2 hours to show it’s best?  Also showing me this wine will have a long life, but I am not sure there will be much of it left in 7 years time.

The aromas continued with the dark theme with dark fruit compote with an emphasis on cherries.  I know there was oak maturation in making this wine but none of that could be really seen on the nose.  Maybe the wine was so dense that it was not ready to give up the oak aromas.   The flavors were – yes you guessed it, dark.  There was fresh blackberry mixed with a bit of satsuma plums.  This time one does get some oak structure – mainly French oak character.  The wine finishes with drying tannins mixed with a hint of violets.  The wine is not shy in the alcohol stakes but one does not notice because of all the complexity and the bigness of the fruit just pulls it all off.  In this case the individual components are no way even close to the effect of the whole.  This wine has just so much going on.  If I was so encore this wine it would be very high  This wine needs food with flavor – lots and last of flavor.  I enjoyed this wine with a big, big steak and it was just so good.

My understanding there is not much of this wine so if you like big bold Shiraz than this is a wine you should find and put down for at least a couple of years.

McLaren Vale Wine – Bellevue Estate

In some ways Corey Vandeleur was destined to make wine.  His parents owned the McLaren Vale local pub until he was a teenager.  He worked at Magleri’s, Hardys Tintara winery and had a stint overseas in California.  His dream started with using some cuttings from Maglieri’s vineyards to plant a 10 acre vineyard just off the Main Road across from the McLaren Vale Visitors Centre.

Only fruit from his vineyard goes into Bellevue Estate wines.  The winery is in front of the vineyard and Corey seems to approach his wines in a minimal handling way.  Each time the wine is handled (eg pumped) some flavor can be striped from the wine – thus not not making the best wine he can.

There is no cellar door at the winery, however one can try the wine at The Bahn (a restaurant also on McLaren Vale’s main street and owned by Cory’s brother, Ben).  I have now tried the last 3 vintages of the resultant wine and I can attend that each vintage has been an improvement  from the previous one.  This wine was awarded 5 stars at a Winestate Magazine new release tasting.

2010 Bellevue Estate Shiraz ($20)

Straight away the aromas showed a depth one does not normally find on a $20 wine.  As you expect there is plum fruit but the aromas of white pepper, mixed spice and a little vanilla (from the proportion of American oak).  The bottle I was tasting from had been open about 2 hours and a slight hint of musk was showing – I suggest that with increased breathing this musk could become more prevalent.

As with the aromas, the flavors shown depth – in this case some of the black fruits such as black cherry and blackberry with just a hint of blue fruit thrown in.  lots and lots of mocha chocolate dominates the mid and back palate.   The American and French oak influences are obvious and the tannins are drying, neither are over powering but it makes me think this wine will will be at it’s best in around 3 to 5 years.

The wine begs for food – big flavor food such as a beef rago and with a little patience one will have an absolutely enjoyable experience drinking a bottle or two.  At this price and quality the wine is absolutely a “should buy” from one of McLaren Vale’s smallest wineries.

McLaren Vale Wine – Graham Stevens Wines

Graham Stevens Wines Cellar Door

Happy 3rd birthday to Graham Stevens Wines.  I have been a big fan of the relatively new venture for Graham and Caroline.  They both work very hard to make their winery successful and I wish them all the success I can.  Three key criteria make their cellar door a must for McLaren Vale wine visitors.  Firstly, you always get a smile and Graham will come over and shake your hand.  This approach makes you feel welcome.  Secondly, they control all aspects of the process.  They even do their own bottling.  Thirdly, Graham understands what the consumer is looking for and the wines are consistently good or better.  Do yourself a favour and check them out.

The man himself - Graham Stevens

2011 Clare Valley Riesling ($14)

A well priced white wine – surprisingly a Riesling, as the only white wine from Graham Stevens Wines.  There is a nose full of limes with just a hint of the lime zest and the flavors not only have the limes but the lemons as well.  There is not as much acid as the more classical Eden Valley Rieslings I have been drinking so I do not put this up there as a classical Riesling.  However those wines are sometimes criticized about having too much acid and many consumers would like to see this toned down.  If that is the case the this is a wine for you.  At this price it is a steal!

2011 “The Cousins” Grenache Rose ($14)

This light pink wine has the aromas of sweet strawberries and the flavors of cherries and strawberries.  There is a little acid tingle on the tongue which cleans the palate after the sugar from the wine (not too much sugar) which makes the mouth ready for more.  Definitely a summer wine.

2009 Arrogant Cleanskin ($9)

This is a 50%:50% blend of Shiraz and Grenache.  First produced as a marketing exercise this 2009 wine is even better.  The wine is not complex but it is just good solid fruit driven wine.  The red fruits from the Grenache dominate both the aromas and the flavors.  If you are looking for a great value wine that shows lots of fruit character (instead of lots of cheap oak) then you could not do better than this wine.

2006 Vat 52 ($18.59)

I have tried this wine many times of the last year or so and the wine just continues to sit up and say please drink me.  A blend of 50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 20% Cabernet is interesting as it is ready to drink almost straight away but the wine will age gracefully.  At this time the Cabernet black current aromas seems to be coming through more than I remember but the redness of the Grenache plays an important part. All in all an interesting blend that seems to work.

2006 Stevens Family Shiraz ($24)

A new release bit in the same mould of the previous release.  The aromas show lots of black fruits – dark cherry and blackberry.  There are also hints of french oak cedar.  The flavors show clean black fruits that seem to be the trademark of their vineyard.

2006 Trophy Reserve Shiraz ($40)

I get some hints of American oak coconut sweetness match with the plum character one expects from quality McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The tannin structure was well matched with the fruit and the finish was lingering.  Different to the Stevens Family wine but not necessarily better.

2009 Fleurieu Cabernet Sauvignon ($24)

Fruit from the Cool Mt. Compass area provides the clean black current fruit character with the cedar of French oak.  Soft tannins but there is a lingering finish.  A good Cabernet but I preferred the 2006.

2012 Vintage Fortified ($25)

Another new release – after the quality 2010 Vintage Shiraz I was really looking forward to this wine.  As expected I got plums here, but I did not expect the milk chocolate and cherry – yes, a bit like a cherry ripe.  This wine is more complex than the 2010 version, but the wines are so different that one wine is not necessarily better than the other.  There is sweetness here but the finish is very dry and long which indicates plenty of acid here.  When one tries such a good Vintage Port style it is difficult to understand why these wines are not produced more often.

2010 Vintage Liqueur Muscat ($20)

All about the clean sweet Muscat fruit here.  Yes the alcohol is obvious with a tingle on the nose and the warm finish but the hero of the wine is the fruit.  A wine with not a lot of oak influence but I know oak has played it’s part.  I also find the finish interesting in that there is plenty of acid here.  This acid cleans the ample sugar off the palate so the mouth is ready for more – bring it on.

McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Shiraz Project #3

McLaren Vale Scare Earth Shiraz Project Tasting

During the month of May the Scarce Earth wines are available for tasting from the cellar doors for the respective wineries or some of the smaller wineries are showing their wines at the McLaren Vale Information Center.

My view about the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shiraz Project this is a chance for McLaren Vale to market, as a combined approach, one of the wine styles this area does really well – Shiraz.  There has been a better roll out this year and as a general opinion the wines are much better than last year.  The big thing the group need to ensure that the Scarce Earth Project does not turn into a an “old boys club”.

Now my comments about the remaining McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shiraz Project……

Battle of Bosworth Chanticleer Shiraz ($45)

From stony loamy soils from their Binney Road vineyard.  The fruit is very clean on the nose but the flavors really shine through with white pepper with soft velvety fruit character.

Bottle of Bosworth Braden’s Shiraz ($45)

From the Bay of Biscay clay soils from the same Binney Road vineyard.  Tis wine is all about darkness and strength.  Just so good and so different from from the other wine from this stable and from the same vineyard.

d’Arenberg Shipsters Rapture Single Vineyard ($99)

Mulberry and spice and all things nice that what this wine is made of.

d’Arenberg The Blind Tiger Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99)

The 87 year old Blewitt Springs vineyard produced a fruit rich offering with white pepper on the nose and anise infused fresh plum compote with a dark chocolate finish.  A seriously good wine but at this price so it should.

d’Arenberg The Garden of Extraordinary Delights Shiraz($99)

Of the 3 d’Arenberg offerings this wine has what appears to be the best balance between spice and fruit.  Neither is dominate over the other.

Kangarilla Road Scarce Earth Shiraz ($50)

From their Maslins Beach vineyard I got limited aromas but showed considerable depth of all the classical Shiraz flavors.

Shingleback Unedited Single Vineyard Shiraz ($70)

Limited aromas and a relatively short flavor profile of the dark black fruit character makes me wonder if this wine was only recently bottled as I know this wine’s pedigree and expected more.

Vinrock Shiraz ($40)

This is just pure juicy Shiraz in a bottle.  I enjoyed the pure flavors and definition of the plum and spice range character.  I see this as a definitely drink now wine as I am not sure I could wait.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blend #1 Single Vineyard Shiraz ($50)

The 2 Black Sheep wines were probably the most interesting for me.  These wines were almost under oaked and I believe the wines could have been better with a little more oak.  I do not think I have ever said or thought this about a red wine before – this wine made me think about what was happening and not just experiencing the wine.  My notes just said – fruit, fruit and more fruit.  In this case mulberries.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blend #2 Single Vineyard Shiraz ($50)

As for the wine above this is all about the fruit.  This wine showed more concentrated black fruit profiles so was very different than the previous wines.  One could not argue this wine was showing off the essence of the vineyard!

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