Chateau de Fonbel 2004

92 points

saint-Emilion. 13%

Of course it has to be the very last bottle I have of this that shows gorgeous development. A lovely open-knit complex mouthfull. Quite savoury.

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Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008

90+ points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 13.6%

I stopped buying Voyager cabernet after the 2004 vintage. Their quality was undeniable but stylistically they were heading towards a hefty Californian style. But this is a breath of fresh air, great (albeit youthful) flavour with a lovely freshness and vitality. I wasn’t surprised to see they have moderated their alcohol level too.

Well done. Seriously good WA cabernet blend.

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Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2002

94+ points

Grampians, Victoria, Australia. 14%

Wow, the 1998 is excellent but this is even more exciting.

Highly aromatic, still youthful. Spicey floral aromas mingle with oak. Still large primary aromas. Great potential.

The palate is intruiging, very complex, not forceful or weighty I think this fine wine’s charms could be missed in the wrong setting. The balance makes it exceptionally easy drinking though it is still youthful. The last glass is better than the first – seemed like a half bottle said my wife, a sure sign of a fine well balanced wine.

Would love to try this against Turkey Flat Shiraz 2002 ie Barossa and therefore much warmer weightier but also a french oaked wine of restraint.

I wish this wine was screwcap not cork, and there was more available to buy.

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Chateau Potensac 2004

88 points

Medoc. 13%

Nice claret. While I’m sure the Delon family (owners of Leoville Las Cases) emplo state of the art winemaking there is nothing souped up about this wine. It doesn’t even strike me as particularly modern (though the 2003 was). This is very true to its terroir and the vintage.

Savoury food friendly but without particularly classy fruit and unlikely to develop much complexity. That said, if I sniff deeply I get a hint of marzipan new oak esthers. Perhaps this wine still has some degree of integration to occur. Perhaps it will be a longer distant runner than I expect and will win higher ratings in future. I look forward to finding out.

Nice simple classy label.

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Stonyridge Larose Cabernets 1999

81 points

Waiheke Island, Auckland. 13%

First bottle was barely drinkable, very ordinary. This one has an odd sheep shed aroma (I appreciate the humour in this being a NZ wine). Palate is not particularly inviting, green flavours with rotting ripeness. Very savoury, not so bad with food.

When I grew up in NZ this was an icon wine. This is very disappointing.

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Wickman tasting of icon Aussie Cabernets

Mark Wickman of Wickman Wine Auctions invited me to a really nice tasting with some of his other clients – nice people.

The tasting was partly to check the condition of these wines which have gone to Singapore and back – they were in pristine condition, obviously they have been kept under good cool cellar conditions.

Here are the wines that were tasted in order:

Mount Mary Quintet 2003 – 13% – Yarra Valley – 88 points

A charming, soft savoury food oriented wine. European herbaceousness. I came back to it at the end of the tasting and wasn’t quite so impressed (I can understand Parker complaining that this is a poor imitation of Bordeaux and that Australia should focus more on what it does best) but it is a good wine, just not really worthy of the fame and price.

Cullen Diana Magdelaine Cabernet Merlot 2004 – Margaret River – screwcap – 14% – 91++ points

Superb cab merlot fruit, lots of high quality oak, tannin, strong concentration. In spite of its youth and intensity it’s a pretty delicious wine. My only gripe with these top WA cabernets, Cullen in particular, is that they always seem so youthful, I’ve seen them soften and integrate a bit with age but not develop complex secondary characteristics of age. Perhaps they just age very slowly. That said they have delicious flavour from early on. Classy wine.

Moss Wood Cabernet 2002 – Margaret River – screwcap – 14% – 91 points

A very interesting wine, I would have picked it blind for Merlot not Cabernet, a very dense high quality merlot. Could be a Californian icon wine.

Sawdusty warm oaky nose, plummy fruit, almost a touch of that fruitcake ripeness that top Pomerols show. Plenty of stuffing, and tannin too. Very ripe but not cloying.

I’m not sure I’d have liked this wine so much if I had it alone with dinner, but I could very well be wrong. Intruiging wine. Very different from the Cullen but similar quality level.

Domaine A Cabernet 2003 – Tasmainia – 13.5% – 88 points

Lacks the concentration of the prior two wines. A bit sweet and simple at first but nice cool climate fruit flavours emerge, and a welcome degree of secondary development starting to emerge. Has some charm, it’s a very interesting and good ambassador for Tasmania – cabernet is hardly their most successful variety, which makes this all the more impressive. Suffers in comparison with the prior two much deeper WA wines though.

Balnaves ‘The Tally’ Cabernet 2005 – 14.5% – 85 points

The disappointment of the tasting. Dark yet slightly dull colour, syrupy currant nose, palate is warm-hot climate straight forward Aussie cabernet, with too much alcohol. Some people felt it was more like “dry red” than varietal. It’s a powerful wine that shows first class winemaking but a style that just tramples over terroir – I’d have never picked this as a Coonawarra wine. It’s good quality but way over-priced and competing head-on with McLaren Vale and Barossa cabernets.

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2006 – Barossa – 14.5% – 90 points

I expected this wine to absolutely bomb in the company it was shown in here. This is a soft alcoholic sweet fruity Barossa shiraz with lashings of American oak, very different from the largely elegant line-up that cam before it. If it had been tasted blind this would have been an awful shock!! But fortunately it wasn’t. I had low expectations, the last Meshach I tried was very sweet, but this wine showed some restraint in the use of oak, and the added acidity gave balance without standing out. It’s not a wine I’d seek out, there are too many better and cheaper competitors, but I was pleasantly surprised here. A good example of a particular style of Barossa shiraz.

I see it won a gold at the Decanter world wine awards.