Leoville Barton 2001 (review)

92+ points

St Julien, Bordeaux.

In Australia typically just under A$100, in UK/USA cheaper.

Anthony Barton has a reputation for making fine traditional claret, at near the top of the scale (‘super second’) yet priced sensibly – none of this showy superstar stuff.

I’ve tried several recent vintages, but never under ideal conditions, the wines always seemed very fine which left me wondering what a Leoville Barton would be like given serious attention. Well here is my review:

Staggeringly rich with marzipan oak notes. This is a traditionally flavoured and structured Bordeaux (but not dull or old fashioned), the oak fruit balance is great. Tannins are strong, but again well balanced.

Austere yet rich, the hallmarks of great wine.

The last thing this wine would be called is fruity, already at this young age the flavours are complex; undried black currents are the closest fruit.

Great wine. Too young – try from 2008 onwards.

Personally I’d like much of the fine wine buying world to ignore this chateau so I can afford to buy more.

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Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2002 (review)

83 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Pristine big company wine making can’t make up for the blend of fruit which is only good-ish. Nice oak on the nose, though very showy manufactured. Fresh clean (stelvin screwcap) and boring.

Nederberg 2001 Private Bin Malbec (review)

87 points

Price unknown, but probably around $15-$20AUD.

This wine is one of a range made for the Nederberg wine auction, so it is not widely available. We had an informal tasting of Malbecs while I was in the US (all from Argentina and a few from Chile) and this one would be one of the better ones. It has a spicy nose and reasonable length with definite mint and earthy flavours. Many of the commerical malbecs we tasted in the US were very short and not complex.

This wine, while not a Bordeaux certainly seems to be in that style and class for its price range. There is evidence of oak, but the fruit handles it well. Like many South Africa wines, it has less overripe characters and more earthy spicy characters, like European wines.

Shild Estate ‘Ben Shild Reserve’ Shiraz 2003 (review)

86 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 15%

Bottled in 2005 after 15 months in new French, American and Hungarian oak.

The most noticeable character of this wine, after its dark colour, is the coconut oak. Not super sweet oak, but distinctly coconut.

It’s a huge concentrated and luscious wine, a hedonistic fruit bomb (in Parker parlance) with the oak influence giving it a palate smoothness that balances its youthful tannins. In spite of its weight and youth it is drinkable now. The first glass is very impressive.

But a glass or two later (with food) and the sheer forcefulness and added acidity pall. It’s a wine for wine tasting and wine critics. Lacks style, elegance, too much extract, too much manufacturing.

Not for long aging, in spite of its substance. And bottled with a horrible composite cork so expect higher than usual rates of corkage.

I’m beginning to think there really is little reason to buy 2003 wines from South Australia, not when the superb (long and cool) 2002 vintage is still available.

$30 – not as good value as their non-reserve shiraz

Two Hands Angel’s Share Shiraz 2004 Barossa

75 points

Highly overpriced, over extracted Shiraz from a well-known producer. I would have thought perhaps this wine had been oxidised, since it seemed to be all tannin and no fruit, but it was bottled with a screwcap. I bought some $6 Shiraz cleanskins from McLaren, which tasted pretty much the same. A real disappointment to all 4 of us at the table.

Massena 2004 Grenache Shiraz Mataro Cinsault Barossa Valley

90 points on my tired palate.

This wine was recommended to me at the Wine Underground the other night and it literally blew all our palates away. It has an amazing intensity in the mouth, but a rather normal Grenache Shizar nose- a bit spicy and earthy. I thought it would probably be too strong for the food, but it really wasn’t. There are tannins here, but mainly fine grape tannins, with almost no trace of oak. It probably was aged in old oak. The wine is made by Dan Standish from Torbreck and one of the winemakers from Two Hands in the Barossa. Worth trying, but not cheap, nearly $30.