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July 24, 2015

Majella was one of the Coonawarra estates that I came to know of and love back in 2003 when I spent a sabbatical year in Adelaide, South Australia. Managed by the highly affable Brian Lynn (a.k.a. The Prof), Majella wines combine the typical heft and brawn of Aussie reds with a high level of sophistication in the winemaking. I had missed out on last year’s dinner and was glad to discover that he was back again from a whistle stop on 09 June 2015 at Meat Smith, organised by Bob Rees. MajellaThe short notes below follow the exact order of the wines served.

Majella Sparkling Brut NV. Fresh and lively with an abundance of citrus and lime of excellent intensity, well-balanced against the clear minerality without yeasty overtones. Very successful.

2008 Majella Sparkling Shiraz. Good depth of sweet raspberries with overtones of licorice, medicinal herbs and a trace of liquer, linear and attractive without any pretensions. Very enjoyable but the complexity of its Rockford counterpart.

2012 Majella Musician cabernet shiraz. Straightforward with notes of forest floor and heated stones, predictably spicy and finishing in an alcoholic trail.

2003 Majella Shiraz. In spite of significant bottle age, this cool region shiraz is still peppery and spicy, perhaps a reflection of the heat wave that year, packed with glorious fruit of excellent concentration with traces of enamel.

2009 Majella Shiraz. The wine is infinitely better on the nose where notes of vanilla and ripe wild berries and cherries dominate, rich and spicy but still undeveloped on the palate.

2013 Majella Shiraz. Surprisingly open for a current vintage with less of vanilla than expected, spicy and polished, lacking true distinction at this stage.

2003 Majella cabernet sauvignon. Supposedly the calling card of this estate, but the 2003, whilst ripe with notes of tangerine, plums and spice, is significantly leafy in character as well with alcohol levels that are too easily discernible. Not particularly distinguished. Disappointing.

2009 Majella cabernet sauvignon. Very smooth with notes of redcurrants, bramble and wild berries of good weight, but it lacks depth and layering, still undeveloped and primal. Needs time.

2013 Majella cabernet sauvignon. Unfortunately, recent vintages of Majella’s cabernet seemed a bit too generic, featuring ripe black fruits, warm and smooth with notes of creamy enamel, earthy forest floor and vegetal traces but lacking in layering. Needs more character.

1998 Majella Malleea. This is the estate’s flagship cabernet/shiraz blend in almost equal proportions. Surprisingly, I could not coax anything out of the 1998, still coming across as undifferentiated, hot and spicy, most unlike the straight cabernet of the same vintage (below). Disappointing.

Brian Lynn a.k.a. The Prof2003 Majella Malleea. Notes of forest floor, wild berries and bramble with good concentration of fruit, spicy at the finish but, somehow, unable to shake off a distinct vegetal trace that seems to pervade the majority of these wines.

2010 Majella Malleea. This wine is much more successful than its preceding peers, bursting with ultra-ripe dark fruits in a state of controlled hedonism, yet to shed its vanillin oak, warm and seamless and linear all the way to its great plummy finish. There’s a great future ahead for this wine. .

To cap the evening, I decided to donate a bottle of the 1998 Majella cabernet sauvignon to those on my table, including The Prof and Bob, my only remaining bottle of this wine that I had cellared for the past ten years. True to form, it demonstrated a different style of Majella that seems to be rather elusive nowadays, featuring glorious dark fruits and currants of excellent depth from that fabulous vintage in Coonawarra, now imbued with cedar, smoke and other secondary nuances, framed by well-defined tannins that seemed to indicate that this wine, amazingly, has yet to peak. Truly a beautiful example of what can be achieved with this terra rossa terroir.

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