(And a white and some cheese)
By Franz Scheurer
R.L. Buller & Son Valerie 2004 Merlot
Andrew Buller makes this Merlot from vines planted in 1987 in the Indigo Valley at 250m above sea level. This gem from the Rutherglen convinces with its full, dark colour. A Merlot with 15% a/v is substantial, intensive and the nose displays lots of dark berries and some barnyard. On the palate it’s quite plummy without being too juicy and the barnyardy flavours persist and add interest. It’s quite complex at first. With some time in the glass the fruit becomes stronger and it finishes quite sweet. I’d put it away for at least five years and let the flavours marry.
For more information contact: http://www.buller.com.au
Warrabilla Limited Release Parola’s 2004 Shiraz
Warrabilla in the Rutherglen district of North East Victoria is known for its big reds. The Parola releases are reserved for only the best vintages and we were already enamoured with the Parola Duriff, now it was time to open the Shiraz. This wine is aged in new American oak for 10 months and the ripe fruit characters (mainly dark berries) are balanced by the sweet vanilla of the oak. At 16% a/v this is no shrinking violet but neither is it just a fruit bomb. Although good drinking now I’d put it away for about 5 years to let the flavours settle and marry.
For more information contact: http://warrabillawines.com.au
Fox Creek Reserve 2004 Shiraz
Fox Creek’s Reserve Shiraz is always typically McLaren Vale, despite the fact that when Jim and Helen Watts established Fox Creek in 1984, they were warned by the locals not to plant vines on the black clay, biscay soils where the Fox Creek vineyard now stands and full blooded Shiraz thrives. I guess they have proved them wrong. The Reserve has been absent for a couple of years but the 2004 vintage was pretty much perfect. The wine is a result of a mixed wood regime and neither Chris Dix nor Scott Zrna, the Fox Creek winemakers, give much away. The wine is full-on, in your face, varietally true Shiraz. Dark berries and cassis on the nose are reinforced on the palate and underpinned by cigar-box, cedary notes. It’s a luscious, full-bodied red that will stand up to rich and complex dishes. This glorious wine is available from Cellar Door at a RRP $70.
For more information: http://www.foxcreekwines.com.au/
Mistletoe Reserve 2004 Shiraz
Made by Nick Paterson at the Mistletoe winery in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, from 35-year-old vines, this wine is matured in French and American oak barriques prior to bottling in December 2005.
The wine is a typical Hunter Shiraz and thankfully it’s bottled under stelvin. Cassis and anis seed tickle the nose with red and black berries confirmed on the palate. It’s mouth-filling and finely textured and the wood is very well integrated. Although it’s very drinkable right now I would prefer to cellar it for about 5 years. There are only 300 cases and if you want some you need to be quick. Available from cellar door at $26 per bottle.
For more information: http://www.mistletoewines.com
All Saints Family Cellar 2004 Shiraz
An old-fashioned wine from 85-year-old vines it steeps for 3 weeks on its skins in open fermenters before being pressed in an old basket press and a subsequent 18 months maturation in French and American oak (1/3 new). The long maturation results in stable and fine tannins. This is an elegant wine with lots of herbaceous aromas on the nose and plum, raisins and star anise on the palate with a touch of wet earth and a welcome meaty element. This wine is begging to be matched with a lamb roast cooked in hay.
For more information: http://www.allsaintswine.com.au/
All Saints Estate ‘Family Cellar’ 2004 Marsanne
Modern Marsanne is mainly made using ultra-modern techniques like controlled cold-fermentation in stainless steel, however, as this wine proves, it really shines when it is given the minimalist, non-interference treatment and old-style handling. The fruit, from 40-year-old vines, is hand harvested, pressed and the juices are collected in both old and new barrels to ferment naturally, then aged, on the lees, for over a year (up to 18 months). Fining and filtration are minimal and flavour is optimal. This is a tightly structured wine with fresh, tropical fruit flavours on the nose and a luscious juicy mouth-feel without ever feeling fat or flabby. I love the fact that vintage variation in this wine is obvious with the austerity mirroring the longer ripening period of a cooler vintage. We tried it with Indigo Cheese Co.’s ‘Grace’ a wonderful goats cheese in the style of a French ‘Crottin’. Matured for 6 to 7 weeks its oozing texture and slight covering of both white and blue moulds presenting one of the best food/wine matches I have ever experienced.
For more information: http://www.allsaintswine.com.au/
And for the Indigo Cheese Co.: http://www.rutherglenvic.com/cuisine/accomm_content.asp?accommID=113
Look out for Indigo Cheeses! Paula Jenkin, one of Australia’s most exciting cheese makers, hand-crafts a terrific goats curd called ‘Chevin’, makes fabulous goats cheeses (the Grace, above, is sold in three stages of maturity), a terrific Camembert (non-stabilized and absolutely stunning!) and a stimulating mixed milk Camembert called ‘Blonde’ and my favourite, a stunning washed rind, with one of the best textures I have ever experienced. Distributed in Sydney by Australia on a Plate. For more information: http://www.aoap.com.au/