Reviewed: 30th July 2013
There has been a lot of talk of late about the respective quality of the last few vintages in South Australia. Despite the predictions of dire effects on the wines from the lesser years, I have seen a number of excellent wines from 2011, whilst the 2008 Grange (considered to be an atypically hot year) was recently awarded 100 points by Wine Spectator.
When it comes to the current release wines from St Mary’s, they all come from the 2012 vintage. This vintage has been uniformly praised by winemakers and critics as being excellent in all major South Australian regions and is reflected in the quality of this year’s release.
St Mary’s is based in Penola in the Coonawarra region and they have quite a prestigious address (V&A Lane). Interestingly, the Mulligans chose to label their wines as Limestone Coast, rather than Coonawarra.
A fascinating component of this tasting was looking at all the Bordeaux varietals vinified separately. It gave me an insight into the various characteristics that the individual components can contribute to a blend. Actually, this may make for an excellent dinner party activity where guests could be given the challenge of making the best blend!
For me, the highlight was the Pinot Noir. I do not know of many pinots coming from the Limestone Coast, but this is an excellent effort that made the panel sit up and take note.
St Mary’s – Pinot Noir – 2012 (17.5). Excellent clarity in the glass. The nose opens with pretty red fruits that are supple and vibrant. This is an attractive, succulent wine of some charm. The finish is full of minerals and the texture is spot-on. The fruit characters include cherry, strawberry, anise and a hint of white pepper. Varietally correct and very well made.
St Mary’s – Merlot – 2012 (17). Good quality fruit here that has been sympathetically made. Good mouth-feel and texture to a wine that can be drunk now, or in five years.
St Mary’s – Petit Verdot – 2012 (17). This is quite a dense wine that is packed with essence-like fruit and prodigious tannins. This is a big, powerful wine that combines intense fruit with structure and density. If you are going to drink this now, it needs a big steak to balance the acidity. Given time though, this will soften and integrate into a classy wine.
St Mary’s – Cabernet Franc – 2012 (16). Compared to the fleshy fruit that the merlot possesses, this is a “bony” wine that is angular and lean. With this wine, you can really see the attributes that cabernet franc can bring to a blend, but at the moment, the acidity dominates the leaner, red fruit characters.
St Mary’s – Cabernet Sauvignon – House Block – 2012 (17.5+). Balance is the key here. This has bright red and black fruit characters set against a background of cedar, spice, aniseed and clove. Long and mouth-watering, the bright acidity adds to the appeal. Whilst it is not the finest wine here, it is one that has the most immediate appeal. This wine would make a great match with food now, or will evolve and build for many years.
St Mary’s – Shiraz – 2012 (17.5). Really deep smelling, with sour plum, spice and cedary notes. This is well made, and the fruit is of good quality, though it needs a few years to soften and really come together. The peppery fruit on the close rounds out a smart wine!