Wendouree Shiraz Malbec 1994 and 1998

1994 – 85 points
1998 – 89 points

Clare Valley, South Australia. 13.5%

Both wines are true to the Wendouree style, not fat, sweet nor alcoholic yet very much dense, non irrigated, warm climate Australian reds. Both show a degree of noticable added acidity. But the 1994 was fairly tired. In contrast the 1998 still has marzipan aromas of new oak as if it were only a few years old. It will be interesting to watch the 1998 age, and to try another bottle of the 1994, I hope it was simply a disappointing bottle.


Grant Burge Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

87+ points

Coonawarra and Barossa Valley, South Australia. 13.5%

This is a rather odd wine. It’s opulent, with very sweet French oak. The blend shows – rich chocolate Barossa fruit and then Coonawarra (powerful and exotic). The back label suggests that the Coonawarra portion adds austerity, it certainly doesn’t.

Considerable concentration, its development has been slow (I suspect a good cool cellar played a part), it’s still youthful for its 13 years of age.

I’m quite intrigued by this wine even if it isn’t my sort of claret. I’d like to try it again, perhaps after a few more years.

Chateau Grand-Puy Ducasse 2003

89 points

Pauillac, Bordeaux, France. 13%

Young claret from the hottest vintage on record. As expected it is a dark full bodied wine, but dry. The oak is prominent on the nose, plenty of esthers (to the harsh chemical extreme, ie astringent – but this mellows when the wine has had some air). It’s a bold young wine but drinkable because of the soft tannins and moderate acidity. The 2003 is approachable in spite of its weight.

This would be hard to pick as a Pauillac, the vintage character overwhelms the regional. I find it hard to predict how long this will age, or even an ideal time to drink it (perhaps in 3-4 years when the oak will be more integrated).

Winter Creek Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003

90 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14%

This reminds me of 2003 Bordeaux, not that this shiraz is anything like claret, partly it’s just the French oak, but mainly it is the vintage character. It has the aromas and taste of a super hot vintage. Ripe, but not in a sweet or alcoholic sense, ripe/toasted/dried characters. With 2003 surrounded by the excellent, in South Australia, 2002 and 2004 vintages there really isn’t any reason to buy 2003.

That said, Winter Creek again produce an interesting and fine wine. One of the best new brands from Barossa.

PS See earlier review

Vin Alto Retico 1998

86 points

Clevedon, Auckland, New Zealand. 15.5%

Kiwi reds are following the current, awful, fashion of high alcohol but 15.5% ! The reason here is that this is an Amarone style, from a Italian oriented winery. So the alcohol is entirely appropriate. This bottle was bought from Ultimo wine store in Sydney, who are the importers. They were selling off cheap all of the Vin Alto range. This is their super premium, so it was still expensive though apparently half price.

It’s a big soft spicy red, with considerable development. The colour is red-brown, far more advanced than I’d expect a 1998. In spite of the oxidation it’s an enjoyable wine, but without the depth and concentration of a true Amarone. Drink now, if not earlier.

St Supery Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

88 points

Napa Valley, California, USA. 13.5%

One of the more fragrant interesting cabernets I’ve had from Cali in recent times. medium to full weight and concentration, a touch of sweetish oak, but only a touch. Not top class fine wine, but sensible wine making not extracting more out of the grapes that they should provide. Good value, and some class. Recommended.

Dare I say it “fairly honest wine in a sea of Parker wannabes”.