Petaluma 1999 Coonawarra

86-91 points (depending on the bottle).

Coonawarra, South Australia. 13.5%. cork. 60:40 Cab Merlot blend.

At its best this wine is marked by sweet coffee oak well matched to the concentrated fruit in a big style. Somewhat Opus One like.

But many bottles simply don’t sing, the definition is lost, as is much of the fruit and oak sweetness. Which makes the touch of eucalypt on the finish quite jarring.

I blame the corks.

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Cullen Diana Cabernet Merlot 1999

87 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 14%. cork

From a fine vintage in WA I hoped for better.

Muted nose, slightly muddy minerally old-fashioned Bordeaux.

Nice palate weight but a greeness to the tannins on the finish. OK but far from delicious. Would not stand well in the company of current vintage WA cabernets.

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Yalumba Chardonnay FDW7c 2009

91+ points

Adelaide Hills, South Australia. 13.5%

Sawdusty lemon nose.

Surprisingly friendly forward (say compared to Ashton Hills, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay) yet still clearly young. Stylish modern Australian Chardonnay. Has the savoury complexity of some of the best European whites with the core of fruit intensity of really expensive wines.

Better yet in a year or two.

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Yalumba The Menzies 2006

87++ points

Coonawarra, South Australia 14%

Dark opaque colour.

Oaky, raspy even on the nose.

A strong dense wine still gripped by oak. Concentrated fruit, muscular texture and then minty finish. Built to impress rather than to charm though this vintage has enough mid-palate that I think it will age well into a looser more charming wine. Personally I’d like to see a touch of Merlot, lower alcohol and less oak. Less show pony and more sophistication. It’s a bit butch and in a vintage where it’s probably got its best clothes on.

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Vintage Flip-flops

In June 2012 Steven Spurrier wrote “There is no doubt that the red wines of (Bordeaux) 2011 merit more consideration than….the hard 2004”.

And I just found a (slightly) old Decanter (March 2007) where he reiterated what he wrote in 2005 “the description most heard of the 2004s was ‘classic’ … (this) might carry a whiff of ‘old fashioned and austere’. Not a bit of it, for from both banks the wines are among the most lively, fruity and fresh-tasting that Bordeaux has ever produced….attractive for the medium term, they will have a long enough life for the collector.”

Decanter has made quite a few flip-flops on Bordeaux vintages. Good, bad, then good again.

Humpf!

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

92 points

Margaret River, Western Australia. 14%

Great label. Delicious wine.

Leeuwin Estate Cabernet has not only bounced back but is now exceeding its best wines of yesteryear.

On the negative side this is a touch spirity, and the (added) acid gives it a touch of that Tamarillo flavour. But it’s hard to be negative about a wine that shows such beautiful, succulent, concentrated fruit flavours beautifully framed by high quality oak. I don’t know of any Australian cabernet that has such oak. All this at barely 5 years old.

It isn’t as exquisite as the 2008 which I think will soon come together and eclipse this with its greater elegance but this 2007 gives delicious drinking and will continue to do so for many years. I’m still unsure if these top WA reds ever develop the aged complexity of Bordeaux, if they do they take a frustrating long time to do so, but in compensation they start drinking as fantastic reds way earlier. Hard to complain about a wine that gives so much pleasure young and keeps on doing so for years – a rare example even if most back labels make this claim.

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Willi Schaefer 2007 and Dr Loosen 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhur Riesling Kabinett

87+ points. 7.5%

I was surprised to find so little difference between these wines. The Willi Schaefer was a little more developed, again not surprising given it was two years older. The Dr Loosen was more aromatic which I think is due to the screwcap.

Perhaps this similarity is to be expected given that two highly competent winemakers are making wine from the same vineyard.

Neither burst with acid and concentrated flavour. The 30 or so grams of residual sugar perhaps dampen the acid.

Neither are (yet) particularly luscious and flavoursome as good Riesling that has some residual sugar can be.

Given a choice I’d buy the Dr Loosen because of the screwcap.

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Yalumba FDR1a 2008

86 points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 13.5%

FDR1A stands for “fine dry red” a Cabernet Shiraz blend aged in French, Hungarian and American oak. I’m not sure what the point of this wine in Yalumba’s portfolio when they already have The Signature cab/shiraz blend which is supposed to be “the finest red of the vintage”.

Anyway this isn’t a patch on the 2006 Signature. The fruit doesn’t sing in anything like the same way.

Heavily oaky dense, old fashioned wine.

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