Some quick notes from an excellent evening hosted by David Lole in Canberra. All wines were tasted and scored blind except for the Curlewis, the St. Henri and the Petaluma Essence.

Rockford Sparkling Black (Sept. 2005 disgorgement) – (Barossa Valley, South Australia):

Bright, clean raspberry, cherry, pepper, vanilla and blackberry aromas as well as a smidge of oak. Flavours refreshingly dance across the tongue into a good length finish. Rather lovely to drink – sure it is youthful, but at least you don’t have to deal with the infamous leaking/snapping Rockford corks when you open them early.


Grosset Watervale Riesling 2002 (screwcap) – (Clare Valley, South Australia):

Lemon and lemon zest, floral aromas, gunflint (although I wasn’t as troubled by the sulphur as some others) and a touch of toast and honey. The palate is austere and shows an excellent minerally acid structure. Certainly youthful and not providing all that much pleasure to drink at the moment, but the promise lies in its future in around 5-8 years time.


Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 1999 – (Margaret River, Western Australia):

Toast, strong pear, peach, grapefruit and nutty, creamy oak that is well blended into the rest of the nose. A very classy palate that is just slightly let down with just a touch too much oak at this stage and just a bit of alcoholic heat on the back palate that I fear may not subside with time.


Curlewis Reserve Pinot Noir 2002 – (Geelong, Victoria):

Lots going on with the lovely nose – black cherry, earth, forest floor (I learnt a new descriptive French wine term on the night – “valley of the hare”) stalks, some beetroot, spice and honey. Superb length, great depth of fruit and fine walnut flavoured tannins. A genuine top-shelf Australian Pinot Noir that I think is drinking very well at the moment.


Seppelt Great Western Shiraz 1996 – (Grampians, Victoria):

Deep youthful colour, but there was some complexity on the nose suggesting that it had a bit more age to it. Earth, mushroom, violets, rosewood, a hint of black pepper and cassis. Tannin structure is present on the palate but showing good integration with the other components. An excellent wine that should be drinking at its peak in around 3-5 years and should live on for some time after that.


Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998 – (Regional Blend, South Australia):

Chocolate, blueberry, vanilla oak and lots of clean, vibrant red berry fruit. Lovely balance on the clean palate, with good length and importantly it is very enjoyable to drink! Sure, it doesn’t give you a sense of place – but that obviously isn’t what it is aiming for. Drinking really nicely now, but has the structure and balance to develop complexity should you want to give it time over the next 6-8 years.


Penfolds St Henri Claret “Special Release” 1979 – (Regional Blend, South Australia):

Great colour, no browning even around the edges. Leathery, sweet earthy fruit. Everything is fully resolved and balanced on the palate. A nice old wine that was drinking without faults, and not falling over in the glass, but almost certainly would have had a lot more to offer in the early to mid 90’s.


Best’s Bin 0 Great Western Shiraz 1998 – (Grampians, Victoria):

A nice coincidence to have this wine on the same night as the Seppelt Great Western. Raspberry, bramble, blackberry and a lovely touch of floral lift (which had some thinking Shiraz/Viognier). A palate that has great weight and depth of fruit flavour. Very youthful and primary but has the class to go the distance and I think it’ll hit its peak in 8-10 years. Should have been poured after the Giaconda, but that is one problem with tasting wines blind.


Giaconda Cabernet 1992 – (Beechworth, Victoria):

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Excellent colour with just a hint of thinning around the edges. Classic cabernet nose of graphite, capsicum, cedar and some some smoky ash. Excellently balanced palate flows through to a long finish. A much better bottle than the one I had late last year with some friends in Sydney at a dinner. Not showing any signs of tiring, but it is well and truly ready to drink.


Petaluma Botrytis Semillon “Essence” 1999 – (Coonawarra, South Australia):

Great depth of aromas to the nose with honey, botrytis, peaches and pears, crème Brule, burnt toffee and caramel. The palate is just a bit over the top, especially in comparison to the balanced 2000 vintage of this wine that I served late last year. The acid structure is there in the background, but it is just overawed by the level of sweetness. It did seem to come together slightly with some air. Very good but not great.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the notes Cam…for all the newbies out there – can you explain what you mean by tasting blind? I “think” that it means you didn’t know what the wine was until after you tasted…is this right?

    Sorry for asking silly questions 🙂


  2. Tannia,

    Not a silly question at all.

    What you think it means is actually what it means. Usually the bottle is wrapped in something like foil, a paper bag or even a sock to cover its identity (or poured from a decanter with the bottle hidden away).

    In informal settings, there is often a game called “options” that we play with tasting wines blind. The game is just what it sounds like, the wine will be poured and the person who knows the identity of the wine will ask questions like “Is it from France, Australia or New Zealand” with everyone taking a guess and then moving on to other options like grape variety, region, vintage, winery. It is pretty geeky, but it’s a fair bit of fun as long as the participants don’t get too serious about it.

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