On Saturday the 7th of May, I attended a tasting at First Estate Wine Merchants in Lane Cove, with a focus on the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills – both in South Australia.
The Event itself: Extremely crowded and cramped. The tasting was conducted amongst the aisles of a regular wine store and so it became quite difficult to manoeuvre around the venue with the tables jammed into corners where they could be found. A number of people seemed to have wandered into the store with a deliberate intent to loiter in front of the infrequent spittoons, try politely getting someone to move with a mouthful of wine! I did appreciate the printed list of the 35 or so wines on offer along with a price guide, a little more space with room for notes would have been good though.
Standouts of the show were;
Henschke Lenswood Abbots Prayer Merlot 2001 – A blend of 86% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Wonderfully structured and a long, smooth, satisfying length through to the finish. Set to develop very nicely over the next 4-5 years. Rating: 94 – RRP: $60AU
Saltram No. 1 Shiraz 2001 – Assisted by a higher than usual percentage of Eden Valley grapes to rise above a generally underperforming ’01 vintage in the Barossa. Quite soft and smooth, with well integrated tannin structure. It delivers good length and a balance that allows this to be approachable at an early stage of development. Rating: 93 – RRP: $50AU
Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling 2004 – Since focusing on getting back to their roots as a Riesling only producer, Leo Buring has gone from strength to strength. This wine is immaculately sculpted and exhibits lemon and lime characteristics over a well formed mineral backing. This is only going to get better over the next 10 years. Can be had for under $15, making it exceptional value. Rating: 93 – RRP: $18AU
Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 2001 – I was surprised to find this here, since they wouldn’t let me try it at the cellar door last year. Obvious American oak treatment, but not overpowering. Quite a strong, complex aroma and palate of cassis and berries, with a hint of smoky pepper. Doesn’t disappoint on the finish with a persistent length. Rating: 93 – RRP: $65AU
Peter Lehmann Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 –Very good balance between fruit and oak. A wine that will pair well with food. Excellent value for money. The complexity will benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. Rating: 92 – RRP: $13.99 AU
Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2002 – A well balanced, early drinking style Shiraz. More elegant than your average stereo-typical Barossan Shiraz. Rides on the back of the superb ’02 vintage in the Barossa. Consequently, it delivers some excellent value for money. Rating: 92 – RRP: $25AU
St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2002 – A fine example of what Barossa Shiraz is renowned for. Concentrated, powerful fruit with a backing of chocolate oak. Fantastic drinking now. Rating: 92 – RRP: $30AU
Shaw and Smith M3 Vineyard Chardonnay 2003 – From the Adelaide Hills. Shows apples and pear with a hint of toasty butter, presumably from some malolactic fermentation. Give it a couple of years in the cellar to really show what it can do. Rating: 90 – RRP: $32AU