Margaret River, Western Australia. 14.5%
Good quality serious chardonnay. Some bitterness which is probably intentional, I enjoy this on red wines, I’m not sure I like this on white wines. This is Leeuwin’s “2nd (chardonnay) wine”, it does the job of showing the house style while being approachable early and lacking great concentration – as should be expected. Though it is no longer as cheap as it was (or should be).
Clare, South Australia. 14%
From magnum, measly cork, but wine in perfect condition, perfect bottle fill, dark colour, wine still has spritzig slightly gassy captured CO2 (even after 10 years).
Warm, somewhat old fashioned with noticeable added acidity – though I think the wine can easily handle it. My main criticism is a lack of omph and complexity of fruit. My 2nd criticism is the straightforward American oak, not commercial and yucky, restrained but it lacks the flair of neighbour Wendouree.
I’ve treasured this magnum for 7 or 8 years, and it’s turned out to be a very good, but not great wine. I think this could age for many more years but I don’t see it going any where in particular, just becoming increasingly cuddly.
Ararat, Victoria, Australia. 13%
Considered a good vintage by the producer, after a run of difficult vintages.
Even mellow red, not unexpected sort of colour given the age.
Appealing, intriguing aromas, touch of leather savoury, touch of oxidation, touch of toffee, and mulberry and spice fruit.
Palate is a continuation plus considerable acidity to balance the wines warmth. Drinking rather well, an attractive cool climate shiraz that deserves to be matched to good food.
Difficult to find this style of wine, cool climate but respectable concentration and ripeness. Table friendly.
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. 13%
Cabernet, Merlot, Franc.
Fairly dark still. Distinctly NZ vegetal aromas. Rather astringent and plain. It has sufficient weight but lacks fruit and depth.
I vaguely remember this wine when it was young as fairly substantial for the vintage in Hawkes Bay. I mistakenly thought it seemed to have the stuffing needed to develop. Now I regret the many times I resisted opening it. This wine is going nowhere. Unfortunately too much Kiwi cabernet is like this, nice in the first flush of youth but without the necessary concentration and complexity to be worth aging.
Crozes Hermitage, Rhone, France. 13%
Dark colour. Deeply rich and young aromas, the fruitiness of young shiraz is a bit of putting, but this is balanced by smoked meats and tar. These flavours continue on the palate which is very lively, though with a bit of prickly acidity (odd).
Should be very nice characterful red in a few years time. There is a really distinctive Alan Graillot style.
Medium bodied merlot dominant bordeaux. Fairly nice drinking now, some warm fruitcake flavours, but lacks depth, concentration and breed. Some mixed fruit. At A$30 you pay a premium for its age and approachability.
Super dark tannic wine. Toasty warmth from oak, with tight fruit wrapped in grippy tannins. Is this malbec ? I think so. Who knows what the future holds, worth buying some to see. A$35
Rioja, Spain. 13%
Pretty classic commercial rioja reserva. The oak has some lovely savoury touches, and the fruit is medium bodied and concentrated. Pronounced smooth creaminess. Excellent restaurant drinking now and over the next few years. Good stuff. A$25
Margaux, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%
Dark. Complex aromas which carry forward to a young firm weighty palate. Everything you’d expect in a young claret. Impressive.
More concentrated and weighty than I’d expect for a Margaux at least of this rank. A Chateau that has really been improving lately. Good value. A$35, £16
A good example of the improvements in wine making that have elevated even humble Medocs to a very high level.
Clear clean flavours, touch of currants, fine firm tannin finish almost ethereal. Lively yet firm savoury young claret. Should be very good drinking in 4-8 years.
Very good indeed for what it is, as Clive Coates would say.
Clare Valley, South Australia. 13%
2005 is being reported as a great Riesling vintage in Clare.
My recollection is that Petaluma makes fine, sturdy, masculine riesling; built for the long term but approachable early as dry food wines.
This vintage is powerful, quite hard, with considerable lime cordial (without the sugar) character. Aeration does little to change this. This wine should last a long time, but will it ever have charm ?
Graves, Bordeaux. 12.5%
I have had little experience with white Bordeaux. This is as I would expect dry, savoury, and with considerable oak. Semillon I can believe, but Sauvignon Blanc no. Unfortunately the wine seems pretty dried out and oxidised. Perhaps not a great bottle. Oddly the alcohol seems high.