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Notes from Australia: 1998 Scarpantoni, 1997 Wynns Michael, Brokenwood & more

September 1, 2010

I was away for a short conference in Melbourne, followed by a quick side-trip to Adelaide to visit the pandas as well as some friends. And in Australia, one can’t help but taste a range of Aussie wines while there.

 1998 Scarpantoni Ironscarf Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot (courtesy of Andrew), over a lovely dinner with Karen & Michael Horowitz at their manor in Adelaide on 31 Aug 2010. Popped and poured. This is the first time I’ve had a well-aged McLaren Vale shiraz. Dark red core with a slight vermillion rim. Lovely nose of ripe shiraz fruit that gained immeasurably in complexity after 30 minutes. Seamless, very well integrated with sweet plum and licorice and a very attractive glow, layered with mint and spice on the finish without any hint of rusticity nor alcoholic trace. I never realized McLaren Vale was capable of such sublimity. Excellent. 

1997 Wynns Michael Shiraz (courtesy of Karen) over a lovely dinner with Karen & Michael Horowitz at their manor in Adelaide on 31 Aug 2010. Decanted well over an hour. Still showing a very deep red with a deep garnet core, from which arose a complex, seamless bouquet of mature shiraz fruit, deeply layered yet transparent in texture, with the feel of Old World northern Rhone, revealing superb depth and complexity. Highly seductive, keeps drawing you sip after sip. A wonderful example of a cool-climate shiraz, in this case Coonawarra. A stark contrast to the tannic John Riddoch cabernet of the same vintage. Wonderful .

2005 Sevenhill Riesling (courtesy of Karen), over a lovely dinner with Karen & Michael Horowitz at their manor in Adelaide on 31 Aug 2010. I remember visiting this estate in Clare Valley in 2003, previously run by Jesuit monks. Light lemon green in color, revealing ripe levels of fruit with great intensity and acidity, which is undoubtedly responsible for the fresh lively personality. Gained further intensity and weight with time, almost rivaling a Grosset Polish Hill in quality. Excellent.

1997 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (courtesy of Karen). Clear golden in color, promising so much but badly corked, unfortunately. 

2005 Starvedog Lane cabernet merlot,  over dinner at the Greek restaurant Kouzina in Melbourne. Deep red with forward flavours of licorice, dark berries and plum, but without any meaningful depth nor complexity. A fairly good table wine. 

2008 Ninth Island pinot noir, over dinner at the Greek restaurant Kouzina in Melbourne. Suitably appropriate fresh pinot hue. Nobody would mistake this for an Old World burgundy. Restrained on the nose initially, gaining in weight after some time, giving off a highly intense, biting intensity on the mid-palate, opening up to reveal some rose-scented flavours. Not bad at all from this cool-climate Tasmanian wine. 

2008 Brokenwood McLaren Vale shiraz, at Becco restaurant in Melbourne. Dark opague red, rich in sweet licorice and very ripe shiraz fruit with more than a tint of medicinal note, framed by surprisingly smooth tannins, littered with spice and pepper. Very good indeed.

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