I am currently at Margaret River, and will be for a week. The main purpose is not visiting wineries, but it is inevitable to taste a few. On arrival at the Bunker Bay Resort, there was a tasting of three Verse 1 wines by Brookland Valley. Initially I wasn't too keen to taste them, but then I noticed that James Halliday had given these wines 94 points and proclaimed Brookland Valley winery of the year in his new 2009 Compendium.
First up was the 2007 Verse 1 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. This version of the WA speciality blend had a fresh lemon taste first up, but the fruit was rather bland and had a sweet undercurrent. It certainly tasted like a mass produced undifferentiated semi dry white.
The second wine was the 2007 Verse 1 Rose. Similarly, the fruit of this wine, based on Cabernet Franc and Merlot, showed very little depth or complexity. The underlying sweetness made it close to a lollipop drink.
Finally, the 2007 Verse 1 Shiraz. This was probably the best of this trio, as the fruit was more expressive. But again, the wine lacked structure and length: a quaffer.
Now, the Verse 1 wines are priced below $20 per bottle and the wines are acceptable for this price level, but 94 points? Halliday never scores anything above 97 points, rarely above 96 points. the 03 Grange achieved 95 points. While it is not the best Grange ever, it is not just one point above Verse 1. There is a world of difference between leading Australian wines and Verse 1. I have never been a big fan of point scoring wine, and James Halliday is way off the mark here.
And winery of the year? The assessment included some Reserve wines, but the winery of the year should also excel at entry level wines. Brookland Valley does not come close, I am afraid. What do you think?