Bleasdale Vineyards Frank Potts 2004

90 points

Langhorne Creek, South Australia. 14.5%

Surprisingly good Bordeaux blend (15% Petit Verdot). Strong dark berry flavours with well handled dry French oak. I think I’d rather drink it over the next few years than let it soften and broaden with age.

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Terrior Australia

There are some interesting patterns in the 2009 James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. It rates 5778 wines, and an arrangement of the best wines by variety (page 14) shows clear, even stark, regional specialization.

Riesling – Clare & Eden Valleys, Great Southern (in WA), and Tasmania. Cool nights seem essential for Riesling.

Chardonnay – Margaret River, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, and Adelaide Hills.

Semillon – pretty much completely dominated by the Hunter Valley.

Sauvignon Blanc – Adelaide Hills.

Sauvignon/Semillon blends – Margaret River.

Sparkling – Tasmania.

Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania, Yarra Valley.

Shiraz – Barossa, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley, Grampians, and Heathcote.
Shiraz Viognier blends – Canberra, Yarra Valley.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra. The importance of maritime influence shows here. Particularly in the surprisingly good showing by the rather hot (but still next to the sea) McLaren Vale.

Shiraz and shiraz blends are Australia’s super strength. The world market seems to share this opinion, and Halliday’s ratings concur. But outside of the shiraz powerhouses of Barossa and McLaren there are many other regions producing high quality wines from other varieties, also the Shiraz from other regions is quite different in style.

It’s true that many Australian wines are blends though in reality these blends often come from the same selection of vineyards each year. And very few serious wines are regional blends. The trend continues to be for regions to specialize on the grape varieties they are best at. We are also seeing distinct regional winemaking styles emerge.

So the New World is beginning to look more and more like the Old World – and vice versa as they continue to learn from one another.

Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 1999

90 points

Eden Valley, South Australia. 14.4%

I’d hoped for more, hence the modest points for a wine of this age and pedigree.

On a positive note, I like the restraint (for what is essentially a strapping Barossa shiraz) and elegance, the acid balance is appropriate and it doesn’t taste dosed up with added acidity (though I suspect there is some).  However the vegetal aromas, and green tannins go too far.  I don’t mind some greenness, though I prefer a distinct spectrum (fresh herbaceous, not as fresh as minty, nor in the other direction asparagus or rotting vegetation).  Also, on a wine like this some green adds character, and can be accomodated, but here there is too much.  Actually I’m surprised there is much at all; wines on the valley floor from this vintage are dense, concentrated, and while in no way super ripe they are physiologically ripe.  And at 14.4% alcohol you’d hope for physiological ripeness.

Click here for reviews of other Henschke wines.

Leasingham Classic Clare Shiraz 1998

88 points

Clare Valley, South Australia. 14%

I’m not giving this a high mark given its age.  It features rather classic (‘old school’) aromas of grease-paint which are due to rather heavy handed addition of tartaric acid.  There is a nice core of sweet fruit, but it mingles with a bit of oxidation and that tartaric acid to create a slight tomato sauce flavour.

This won the Stodart Trophy which is awarded at teh Brisbane Show for best one year old red.  Yet oddly doesn’t fetch high prices at auction.  It appears that the market knows that this was a wine that showed exceptionally well at 1 year old.

Click here for other reviews of Leasingham wines.