Saturday, January 28, 2012

Barossa Tastings, Day 2

Today, I wanted to taste from some of the small and relatively new wineries.

Kalleske is not really new and not so small anymore, but it is still very much a family operation. I always have high expectations when I taste their wines because of the exceptional fruit quality and their rich, yet not overripe style.This tasting was slightly disappointing in relation to the high end wines. The 2010 Tempranillo was interesting. It was quite savoury and had grip on the back palate - not your standard innocent Tempranillo (91 points). Equally, the 2010 Moppa Shiraz was attractive. It is the higher volume Estate Shiraz and includes some younger vines. The fruit was not overly concentrated, but the wine well balanced, with some good acidity to finish (92 points). The 2010 Greenock Shiraz showed the usual black colour, but I expected more from this vintage. There was simply nothing special about this wine (92 points).The 2009 Eduard Shiraz, from a special block which used to go into Grange, showed much more fruit concentration and depth, but the meaty, fat flavours were a bit undifferentiated (92 points).

Murray Street Vineyard is relatively nearby, with an attractive cellar door and a quickly expanding range of wines. The higher end Shiraz wines express the terroir of their single vineyard origins. The 2008 Gomersal Shiraz is made from grapes grown on clay and is treated in American oak. It attacks the mouth with big fruit and vanilla flavours, but lacks in the follow through (90 points). The 2008 Greenock Shiraz is grown on sandy soil. It has lifted blackberry flavours, is concentrated, but finishes elegantly with soft and silky tannins (93 points). The 2008 Benno is a 50/50 Shiraz/Mataro. It shows red fruit and some confectionery flavours. It is a softer wine, nice to drink (92 points). The 2008 Sophia is from a special block of the Gomersal vineyard. It is purple in colour, quite concentrated, with an attractive fruit and spice mix (93 points). Overall, this was an impressive line-up.

My third stop was at the show room of the Artisans of the Barossa, a lose alignment of a number of newer and serious wineries who have not yet invested in their own cellar door.

I started with three GSM wines. The 2009 Massena Moonlight Run was the weakest . It was a bit sweet and not very harmonious (88 points). The 2009 John Duval Plexus was terrific. Crimson in colour, with spice balancing the complex fruit flavours. It had length and very polished tannins (93 points). I preferred it to the 2008 Spinifex Indigene. This wine was darker and had the expected freshness, but I found the wine less balanced and a little rough (91 points). I later heard that John Duval thought this was his best Plexus so far.

The Shirazes were from the 2009 vintage. The Schwarz Nitschke Block from Bethany showed upfront plummy fruit, but lacked structure (86 points). The John Duval Entity, which includes 18% fruit from Eden Valley, was a great wine. It showed typical plum and blackberry flavour, some spice and mocca. The wine had grip, rather than fat, and a lengthy finish (94 points).

Then there were three wines from Hobbs. His vineyard is right next to Chris Ringland, and he tries to produce a similar big style wine and market off his reputation, I think. As a result, the 2009 Shiraz/Viognier is very big and a bit hot and alcoholic (90 points). The 2009 Shiraz was much better. A big wine, but elegant , and a wine which could be drunk now or in 20 years, although the finish was a little undefined (94 points). The 2009 Gregor is a Shiraz made in the Amarone style, quite dry with strong tannins (92 points). I rated these wines in an absolute sense, but at $100+ per bottle, they are too expensive.

Overall, I was most impressed with the John Duval wines. They demonstrate a clear departure from his Grange days, with an emphasis on length and structure, not so much on fruit weight. These are wines which will cellar well and are good food wines as well as drinks in their own right.

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