Tasting Australia


Tyrrell`s 2009 VAT 1
Fresh, racy lemon and citrus aromatics. Decent herbal spiciness and freshly cut grass join in. Thanks to the vintage, the wine is softer than usual, but still vibrant, fresh and structured for long term cellaring. A great Hunter Valley classic! Keep.

Clarendon Hills 1997 Norton Summit
Far developed, past its prime with oxidative aromatics, orange zest, dried herbs and oaky sweetness. Rather thin, yet alive and harmonious on the palate. Drink up.

Kalleske 2013 Fordson
Yes, this is a Zinfandel from Barossa Valley and it´s a beautiful one! Quite a powerhouse with great concentration of fruit and freshness. Dark aromatics of berry fruit, spices, fruit jam, minerals and earth. Inky and rich on the palate, but of cool depth and freshness. Distinct Kalleske. From a vineyard planted in 2007 this is a promising early-drinking wine.

Torbreck 1998 The Steading
Intriguing aromatics of black cherry, plums, cigar box, road tar, oriental spices and violets. Beautifully integrated tannins and delicate acidity in a smooth, but fresh and super-elegant wine. Great stuff, which is probably still at its peak. Drink soon.


Balnaves 2008 The Tally
From an excellent Coonawarra vintage comes this dense and rather robust Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Petit Verdot (4%). Cassis, plum, green pepper, tobacco, earth and oak describe the nose, while the palate is youthful and dark with black fruits and spices. Still looking for balance while compact tannins keep the wine tight. This is nice, but not there yet. Keep 5+ years.

Leeuwin Estate 2007 Art Series
This was the only wine from the gravelly loam soils of Western Australia´s Margaret River region. Compared to Balnaves` Tally, this wine showed rather elegant and light-weight with beautiful aromatics of cassis, stewed fruit, peppery spiciness and present oak. Rather bumpy on the palate with present acidity, while lacking density and length. Still 13% Malbec provide a dark core. Maybe caught in a bad time…

Henschke 1995 Cyril Henschke
One of two wines of the night that could have been taken for Old World if tasted blind. Even though the wine is little past its prime now, the 1995 Cyril shows very elegant, harmonious and complex. Fascinating aromas of cassis, earth, leather, little barnyard, forest floor, smoke and pepper- anise spiciness arrive vital and perfectly integrated on the palate. The tannins have softened and only little acidity shows and provides drive. Good length with dark layers and peppery spiciness. Excellent! Drink soon.

Wynns 1994 John Riddoch
Dark aromatics of blackberries and some fruit in rum, leather, tobacco, earth and violets. Sweet vanilla and present oak. Dense and dark on the palate with flavors of blackberries, cedar, dried herbs, anise and black olive. Youthful with firm tannins, while not lacking juicyness. Very good length with more black fruits and peppery spiciness. It seems that the wine is just opening up. Keep 5+ years.

Briar Ridge 2010 Dairy Hill
From Terra Rossa clays and sandy clay soils comes this Hunter Valley Shiraz. Aromas of blackberry, plums, spices, olives, road tar and fresh herbs. Arrives with cool elegance and smoothness on the palate. Finishes medium-long. Well made, but lacking fascination, yet delicious and very drinkable.

Rockford 2009 Basket Press
Ripe and sweet aromas of red and black berries, plums, cooked fruit, little herbal spiciness and present oak. Ripe, juicy and of present alcohol on the palate. Fairly broad, while lacking structure and focus. A rather disappointing classic.

Henschke 2008 Mount Edelstone
Rich, fruit-driven and spicy wine from a legendary vineyard planted in 1912 by Ronald Angas. 16ha of deep sandy loam over gravelly medium-red clay, overlying laminated siltstone create a special wine, which is always more expressive than its famous big brother Hill of Grace. The 2008 is still in its early fruity stage, but still delicious and fascinating to drink with aromatics of blackberries, plums, oriental spices, dried and fresh herbs, sage and some road tar. It´s perfectly structured dense, deep and concentrated, while fresh and long. Velvety tannins and fine acidity guarantee a long future. Fantastic!


Penfolds 2004 Grange
From a great vintage comes this elegant, fresh and complex Grange full of finesse with fascinating aromas of red and black berries, spices, delicate sweetness, some chocolate and minerality(!). Multi-layered, fine, but solid structured and of perfect balance on the palate with dark fruit, herbal freshness, little oak and mocha. Finishes very long. A beauty in its youth.

D` Arenberg 2001 Dead Arm
The Dead Arm brought us back to reality after two exceptional wines. Nevertheless, a very good wine, but by far not as special as Mount Edelstone or Grange. Still youthful, it´s opening with aromas of ripe, dark berries, lilac, chocolate and a mix of spices. Balanced and delicious, but lacking excitement and fascination. Yet, a beautiful, distinct McLaren Vale Shiraz. Drink now or keep.

Wendouree 2000 Shiraz Mataro
Does the best always come at the end? In our case, absolutely yes! From the tiny 11,3ha of AP Birks Wendouree Cellars came the winner of the night. Starting off quite funky and taking its time to open up, the wine presented itself different than I remembered it from out last encounter. Back in June 2012 the wine was wide open, rich, deep and dark. But this time it was even better: Fresh, red fruits, a lot of cherries, ethereal freshness of herbs and pinewood, eucalypt, some licorice and wet earth. Pure perfection on the palate with density, freshness and elegance. Mostly driven by dark fruit, fresh herbs and spices, the wine is still youthful and structured for a long future. Finishes long and focused with dark berries, some spiciness as well as sweetness. An exceptional wine at an early stage of its life with finesse, depth and complexity!



Tasting Note: Clarendon Hills 1998 Kangarilla Grenache


1. Introduction:
Here is another highly recommended wine out of Clarendon Hills` portfolio of hand crafted single vineyard expressions from pre-phylloxera old vines in Australia´s McLaren Vale.
Roman Bratasiuk creates about twenty different wines each year, which are all tributes to old vines and of consistently good quality. Most famous is the Astralis, one of the few Australian Shiraz that answers to the original French name “Syrah”- as all other wines made from that grape by R. Bratasiuk as a clear reference to Old World France.
Bottle and cork of our 1998 Kangarilla Grenache are in perfect condition.

2. Appearance:
Velvet red to garnet. Vital, but surprisingly light.

3. Nose:
Beautiful integrated, multi-layered and filigree aromas of Cedar, Cherry, Fruit in Rum and a play of secondary characters as Autumn Leaves, Licorice, Eucalypt and Sweet Vanilla.
Heathland and Floral notes. Little Oak.
Fascinating and delicate!

4. Taste:
Reluctant flavors of Ripe Red and Dark Fruits- mostly Cherries. Fruit in Rum.
Leather and Earthy flavors. Maybe lacking some midpalate density.
Finishes long and soft with Dark Fruit, lively Acidity, some Round Tannins and Peppery Spicyness.
Nice flavor-complexity and pleasant, soft texture!

5. Opinion:
A great, but surprinsingly light, medium-bodied and finely spun Grenache from Clarendon Hills with less power but sophistication and finesse!
Still round, perfectly integrated with a solid tannin and acid structure, but to be consumed soon.

Kangarilla Vineyard (photo by Clarendon Hills)

Tasting Note: Clarendon Hills 1997 Liandra Shiraz


1. Introduction:
Here we go again with another wine from Clarendon Hills from the late nineteen-nineties.
Out of the many fantastic wines from mostly Rhone, but also Bordeaux, varietals in their portfolio we try the 1997 Liandra Shiraz today.
This 100% Shiraz is sourced from the historic Liandra vineyard in Southern Australia´s McLaren Vale.
Our 1997 bottle is in extraordinary condition with a healthy cork. 14,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep dark-red, velvet. Intense, vibrant and deep!

3. Nose:
Dark ripe Berries; mostly Blackberry and Cassis.
Earth, Black Tea, Dark Chocolate and Tar.
Little Floral characters come with some Sweetness, Eucalypt and Oak.
Comforting, soft and inviting!

4. Taste:
Beautifully integrated with fascinating secondary characteristics.
Decent Fruit- mostly Dark Berries- with Fruit in Rum.
Earthiness, Tobacco, Dark Chocolate and Leather.
Finishes long with vivid acidity, round tannins, some fruit and little spiciness.
Nice texture and mouthfeel. Great proportions and complexity!

5. Opinion:
A full-bodied, delicious and wonderful wine that really fits!
Great sophisticated complexity, harmony, concentration and balance.
Rich, but filigree aromas and flavors.
Should be good for some more years of careful cellaring, but drinks beautifully now.

The Liandra Vineyard (photo by Clarendon Hills)

Tasting Note: Clarendon Hills 1998 Old Vines Grenache, Clarendon Vineyard


1. Introduction:
Clarendon Hills produces six different (mostly) single-vineyard Grenache wines all from old vineyards in South Australia´s McLaren Vale region.
After our portrait of the 1995 Blewitt Springs Grenache earlier this year,
the 1998 Clarendon Vineyard Grenache is the second wine by Clarendon Hills presented in this blog.
The wine, with its fruit sourced from a vineyard planted in 1920, is considered to be the entry point or ‘village wine’ in Clarendon Hills` (Grenache) portfolio.
Our 1998 bottle is in perfect condition with a healthy cork.

2. Appearance:
Vibrant dark red, crimson with little signs of aging. Slightly lighter edges.

3. Nose:
Rich and concentrated fruit of ripe Plums, Cherries and Dark Berries. Hints of Petrol.
Beautiful Floral and Herbal characteristics of Violets, Lavender, Heather and Thyme.
Some Cedar and Vanilla Sweetness.
Intriguing and beautiful!

4. Taste:
Flavors of ripe Dark Fruits as Black Raspberry, Plum and Chery. Fruit in Rum.
Dark Chocolate with traces of Vanilla and a mix of Licorice and fresh Herbs.
Finishes long with pure Fruit, present, but round Tannins and Spicyness.
Concentrated, complex and well-structured!

5. Opinion:
An intense, but nicely integrated full-bodied wine.
Even though with lively tannins and acidity, it is very balanced and approachable now.
Interestingly, compared to the 1995 Blewitt Springs, this wine- while 3 years younger- is much softer and rounder at this stage.
A beautiful, now savory and very accessible wine, which should be consumed within the next years.

The Clarendon Vineyard (Photo by Clarendon Hills)

Clarendon Hills 1995 Old Vines Grenache, Blewitt Springs

* photo by Clarendon Hills

* photo by Clarendon Hills

1. Introduction:
Famous for its Astralis Shiraz, Clarendon Hills produces many fantastic wines from mostly Rhone, but also Bordeaux, varietals in Southern Australia and, particularly, the McLaren Vale.
This 100% Grenache is sourced from a vineyard planted in 1925 and known for its ageabilty.
It is quite tannic in its youth and, thereby, not everybody’s taste as a young wine.
Our 1995 bottle was in extraordinary condition with a good cork- even though the lower third had soaked up a lot of wine and turned very soft over the years.
I decided to decant the wine and had to realize that this was a good decision, since the wine evolved nicely over the three hours of drinking.

2. Appearance:
Very good looking! Vibrant dark red, crimson with no visual signs of aging.

3. Nose:
Broad and complex spectrum with primary fruit, as Red and Blue Berries, and Floral and Perfume characters.
Hints of Nuts and Anise. Beautiful, decent sweetness!
While very dense, perfectly balanced.

4. Taste:
Still a lot of fruit with Red Berries and Sour Cherry. Leaves and Flowers.
Intense and long finish with present tannins.

5. Opinion:
A very good, surprising young wine.
The surprisingly strong tannins mellowed nicely in the decanter after the first sips were very harsh in the back.
A very pleasant and special wine!