Tuesday, 17 April 2012.
A tasting of a selection of wines from Matthew Jukes Top 100 Australian Wines for 2011, organised by Noel Young Wines at Anstey Hall, Trumpington, Cambridge. There were 45 wine on tasting (tried all of them), the full list of which can be found here. Below are brief notes on a few wines that particularly took my attention.
Having never really found a a good Australian Viognier (I generally find them a bit too sweet and flabby), I found two at this tasting. The 2010 Yalumba Y Series Viognier - ripe, sweet white stone fruits on the nose, peachy and floral, very attractive; fruit forward and quite a filling palate, big but not flabby, ripe peaches being the dominant note; well balanced and good value at under £10. The 2010 Fox Gordon 'Abby' Viognier had a similar nose of sweet peaches but it wasnt as overtly so, more subdued; palate was more interesting, royal gala apples, lemony acidity, lots of fruit but all very balanced and that bit more lively; great stuff.
The Hunter Valley Semillon all shone, despite the contrasting styles (vin de garde vs drink youngest available). Whilst freshness is nice, I tended to prefer the complexity and secondary notes showing on the bottle aged varieties, which are: The 2005 McWilliam's Mount Pleasant 'Elizabeth' Semillon showing a nutty (sesame seeds) savoury note with candlewax which carries through to the nicely weighted mid palate, nice concentration and length, such poise. The 2003 Tyrrell's Winemakers Selection Vat 1 Semillon which, despite having no oak treatment, has begun to develop a waxy and nutty nose to; very pure and focused on the palate, with concentration and staying power, I'd be curious to see what this will be like in 10 years' time.
The Chardonnays were all very pretty as well, I could have easily picked all of them but settled on four from different regions but similarly priced at approx. retail price of £25. The 2010 Ocean Eight 'Verve' Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula - this was apparently picked very early to retain the freshness and acidity (hence the name), which resulted in a low alcohol. Good oak treatment leaves a savoury and nutty note, the acidity is intense but very generous (not aggressive), impressive length too; very well put together. The 2008 Leeuwin Estate 'Prelude' Chardonnay, Margaret River - OK its not the Art Series, but its bigger (more famous) brother is twice the price but I'm not convinced its twice the wine. Sweet oak here, more vanilla and cream; plenty of fruit intensity, this is large and filling, touch of savoury note towards the finish; big, perhaps slightly flashy, but still balanced. The 2008 Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay, Yarra Valley perhaps showed the most pronounced nose - nutty oak, but with lashings of butter and cream, smells beautifully sweet; good fruit concentration supported the overt oak treatment, surprisingly integrated and well knit. The 2009 Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills showed a savoury and nutty nose but isnt as brash / overt as the others, this to me was a study of balance and elegance - the fruit, acidity and oak all supporting and seamlessly interwoven with each other.
The reds were filled with old favourites with a few notable interlopers. The 2009 Bremerton 'Tamblyn' Langhorne Creek was a superb blend; good fruit concentration with the constituent components doing different things on the palate, tasting this wine definitely wasnt boring or one dimensional, and yet it still feels integrated & together; no doubt this could age 5-10 years. The 2006 Jim Barry 'PB' Shiraz / Cabernet, Clare Valley had a fragrant and lifted nose, the Shiraz really singing with its aromatics; fruit is concentrated but not heavy, plenty of fresh acidity to liven things up; again, would develop in the medium term 5-10years.
The single varietal Shiraz were a joy to taste. The 2009 Torbreck Cuvee Juveniles, Barossa showed plenty of ripe red cherries with cherry liquer on the nose, also sweet oak; the fruit wasnt fully extracted, nice freshness & lightness to this; very approachable yet still serious. The 2009 Glaetzer 'Bishop' Shiraz, Barossa showed textbook nose of blackcurrant jam, dark plums, a touch of licorice and sweet spice, very complete and appealing nose; good dark fruit concentration, a lick of oak and acidity, all very balanced. The 2006 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa had a slightly more punchy and forward nose, blackcurrant compote and dark cherry, smells very sweet; lots of brambly balckberry fruit on the palate, decent acidity, noticeable tannic grip; a serious wine for aging another 5-15 years. The three wines above, whilst worthy and very good indeed were understandably blown out of the water by the 2006 Jim Barry 'The Armagh' Shiraz, Clare Valley which showed such wonderfully singing aromatics of sweet cassis, wine gums, hints of mint, dark fruit compote, all leaping out of the glass to greet you; incredible concentration and weight on the palate, yields waves of flavour; big, structured yet balanced and elegant; a very serious wine with enough oomph for the long haul 2015-2030+