It is always an interesting exercise when two bottles of the
same wine end up in a tasting, or in tastings that are close together, as it is
a chance for panel members to measure the consistency of their notes and
scores. The closer the scores, the happier the panel.
So it was that a bottle of the 2016 Howard Park Abercrombie
was included in this tasting. I reviewed this two months ago and was pleased to
see that I gave both wines identical points (18.7/20) and near identical
tasting notes. The main difference was that a few extra months in the bottle
have allowed the fruit to shine just that little bit brighter. Great wine.
The highlight of the current tasting was the wines from
Flametree. The Embers Cabernet is brilliant drinking now, whilst the “regular”
Cabernet is age-worthy and powerful. Both represent fine value.
Flametree – Cabernet
Sauvignon – Embers – 2017 (18.3/20pts
– $20). Fine and elegant, this supple wine is full of blueberry fruit, with near
seamless palate transition. The quality of the fruit is a highlight and whilst
being a great drink now, has enough depth and structure to benefit from a few
years in the cellar. This is the first time that I can recall that this wine is
not labelled Cabernet Merlot and is great value.
Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $45). There is density and a degree of power to the brambly fruit here that elevates it beyond the Embers. The palate is supple, silky and seductive, with silky, feather- light tannins on the mid palate that slowly build on the close adding texture and structure. This serious wine gets a little chewy to close and is worthy of extended time in the cellar. This is the first time this wine is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mr Barvel –
Cabernet/Merlot – 2017 (17.5/20pts). This wine is quite delicious, with the
ripe berry fruit complemented by savoury winemaking and fine tannins. Perhaps
not that serious but well-made and eminently suitable for early consumption.
Fraser Gallop – Cabernet
Sauvignon – Estate – 2016 (18/20pts –
$33). Pristine ripe fruit in the cooler spectrum is supported by fine tannins
to make a lovely, medium-bodied wine. The finish is long, supple and elegant,
showing admirable balance. The winemaker (Clive Otto) has taken a different
approach with this wine, using techniques learned in Bordeaux. The purity of
fruit seems to be the key feature. https://www.frasergallopestate.com.au/product/Cabernet-Sauvignon-2017
In the course of my work, I spend a large amount of time traveling internationally. This includes regular travel on Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways, as well as less frequent trips on Malaysian, Asiana etc.
By far the best wine that is regularly served in Business
Class on any of these flights is the Charles Heidsieck Champagne served by
Singapore Airlines. A superb wine of great complexity and finesse.
Interestingly, I believe the wine being served is a much more recent
disgorgement than that which is available in Australia.
For something a little different, I recently flew six sectors
on Emirates, becoming well acquainted with the wines being served both in the
lounge and on the plane.
On board, there is either Veuve Clicquot or Moet NV
Champagne (depending on the sector), as well as two decent whites (including
one White Burgundy) and two reds (including a Bordeaux). There is also a 1994
Late-Bottled Vintage Port for those so inclined. But the highlight on each
flight was the Sommelier’s Selection mentioned at the end of the wine list.
On each flight, this was quite outstanding, being either a
super-Tuscan or Napa Valley Cabernet. I would definitely recommend asking the
staff about this as, whilst available, is not always offered during the
What was really exciting for a wine tragic like me, was the
range of wines available in the Business Class Lounge in Terminal 3 at Gate A
in Dubai. The first time I visited, I assumed that the wines would be the same
at each drink station, so did not go looking. On my second visit though, I
realised that there were at least one or two different wines at each drink
station. So at 1am in the morning, I found myself wondering around the eight
drink stations spread across the two wings of the lounge excitedly exploring
the various options.
Of interest, the best wines appeared to be at the quiet end
of each of the lounges. It is also worth noting that the wines can change
completely from one bottle to the next, so it is worth checking what else is
open with the staff.
The only Champagne open was the NV Moet, which is not a bad
wine by any means. From there, things get much more exciting. There was a
cross-section of white Bordeaux that I found very interesting. A highlight was a
lovely bottle of 2015 Chateau Carbonieux
(complex and refined, with excellent fruit weight), and the excellent ChateauBouscaut 2011, both of which are Graves Grand Cru. The Tronquoy Lalande 2016 was lighter and
more straightforward, but excellent drinking.
Other whites included a 2016 Pinot Grigio from Livio Felluga that had a most distinctive
label, as well as a couple of South African whites and a Penfolds Chardonnay. There was also an excellent Burgundy from Domaine RouxPère & Fils. The Saint
Aubin – 1er Cru – Vieilles Vignes 2017 is fresh and bright, with ripe
stonefruit and textural winemaking influences. An excellent wine from an
under-rated region in Burgundy.
For me, the highlight of the whites was Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala 2016. Castello della Sala (now owned
by Antinori) is considered by some as one of the great white wines of Italy,
and if this bottle is typical, then who am I to argue? Very refined and
polished, with ripe peach and apricot fruit combined with a creamy mouthfeel
from the oak and lees work. A textural treat that would be as good with food as
it was on its own. Superb!
An interesting counterpoint to these wines was the 2014 Opalie by Chateau Coutet. This has
clear links to sweet Sauternes, having hints of botrytis and honey, though the
finish feels very dry.
The reds were just as exciting, and included two contrasting
wines from Bordeaux. Clos Du Marquis
(Saint Julien) is a second label (as opposed to the second wine) of Leoville
Las Cases. On this occasion, the 2007 was available. From a difficult year in
Bordeaux, this is an excellent result. Whilst the fruit is relatively subdued,
the structure is classic Bordeaux and is drinking well now.
By contrast, the 2008
Lynch Moussas (5th Growth – Pauillac) was bursting with ripe,
almost succulent fruit. An excellent wine from this revitalised estate.
For Shiraz lovers, the Torbreck
Run Rig 2006 was already drinking a treat, with the extra bottle age allowing
the structure to soften considerably, while the Donelan Walker Vine Hill Syrah 2013 was full of pretty berry fruit
with very fine structure. Both were excellent wines!
The highlights for me came from the truly excellent 2013 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet
Sauvignon from the Napa Valley and the dense/powerful 2013 super-Tuscan from Collazzi (labelled Toscana).
So next time you are transiting in Dubai, I highly recommend
that you take some time to wonder around the lounges exploring the wines on
offer. You will not be disappointed.
For those who have been following my reviews for some time,
you will have noted that there are some wineries that get reviewed more often
than others. One of those is Shingleback and another is Angove. Both wineries
are making wines at a variety of price points that are class- leading.
When it comes to reviewing their new releases, I have tended
to focus on the more affordable ranges, such as Red Knot and Hay Cutters (Shingleback)
and Long Row and Family Crest (Angove), such is the quality of the wines
But with the launch of the 2014 D Block Reserve from
Shingleback and the 2016 Medhyk from Angove, the sheer quality of these wines
cannot be ignored. Whilst the styles are very different, even at the $55 – $70
price point, they both represent great value given just how good they are.
I will be laying down both of these wines in the cellar for
The other wine to stand out in this tasting was the 2016
William Randall Shiraz from Thorn Clark. Whilst not formally reviewed here,
this was a restrained expression of Barossa Shiraz that will be brilliant in 15
– 20 years’ time (cork permitting).
Angove – Shiraz –
The Medhyk – 2016 (18.5+/20pts – $80).
Wow, this is a very serious wine indeed. Whilst the fruit is dense and
structured, there is a silky approachability to the ripe fruit that is quite
disarming. With air, the fruit really starts to shine, though the silky tannins
creep up on the finish. A powerful wine that has been brilliantly made, but
needs 20+ years to hit its peak. Enjoy with a rich beef dish now, but give it
an hour or two in a decanter beforehand.
Shingleback – Shiraz
– D Block – Reserve – 2014
(18.5+/20pts – $55). Sweet, rich, ripe fruit explodes from the glass. This is
dense and powerful, yet is totally seductive and captivating. A different expression
of McLaren Vale fruit, with a wonderful exuberance and silky, gossamer-fine
tannins that makes this irresistible now. Will also age very well, in the cellar
for a decade or more. Sealed with a natural cork.
I love Chardonnay. If I had to choose just one white wine
style to drink, this would be it. Part of the appeal is the versatility that
the grape affords. From zesty, racy unoaked styles made famous by Chablis, to
the powerful rich and textured White Burgundies, there is a style for every
For this tasting, the panel sat down to a line-up of over 20
high quality wines, primarily from 2017 and 2018. The final five wines that
made it through to this review are all worthy of your attention. From the great
value Flint Rock, to the powerful Singlefile, the different faces of Chardonnay
are well represented.
I hope you get the chance to enjoy some of these wines.
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $60). This is a great wine. Complex and creamy, with powerful fruit and very refined winemaking inputs. Peach-like fruit with citrus highlights really build in the glass. The suppleness to the palate is a highlight, with the creamy texture adding depth. Excellent fruit, oak and winemaking combine to make this a brilliant drink now, but also one that will age well for at least five years. (From a 30 y/o vineyard, the fruit was hand-picked, barrel fermented in French oak (40% new), lees stirring and only 12% malolactic fermentation).
Howard Park – Chardonnay
– Flint Rock – 2018 (17.9/20pts – $28).
Whilst I was tempted to review the premium Howard Park Chardonnay, the value
offered by the Flint Rock made this a stand-out. This wine is a bit deceptive,
as it starts off very easy to drink and satisfying, but then starts to build
greater depth and texture, with the ripe fruit perfectly matched to the oak and
lees work. A fine wine with a creamy finish, the generosity of fruit makes this
great drinking now. (Aged in older oak and spends 10 months on lees).
Dexter – Chardonnay
– 2017 (18/20pts – $40). This is a leaner, more modern style, with fine, if
obvious acidity and subtle fruit in the grapefruit and nectarine spectrum. The
acidity, which is a touch youthful now gradually gives way to fine, supple
fruit and a very long finish. Very good indeed, this will evolve for a number
of years. (Whole bunch pressed, barrel fermentation, extended lees aging,
partial malolactic fermentation).
Sandalford – Chardonnay
– Estate Reserve – 2018 (18/20pts). Fine
and elegant, with everything in balance. There is a touch of toast from the oak,
but this fits well with the fruit profile. With air, this builds peach and
pineapple fruit notes. This finish is long, supple and textured, with a savoury
lift on the close.
Plantagenet – Chardonnay – York – 2018 (18.4/20pts – $40). A great way to finish the tasting. This is fine, refined, elegant and long, with supple stone fruit and citrus notes combined with impeccable (French) oak handling. The latter adds texture and depth, without dulling the fruit expression. A stately wine that is great now, but would benefit from five years in the cellar.
In the global wine market, Western Australian wines are
positively cheap, when quality is factored in. In an effort to lift the profile
internationally, a number of producers have released, or are planning to
release limited edition Reserve wines at a higher price point.
Cullen’s Vanya was at the vanguard of this movement, and has
been quickly followed by the likes of Vasse Felix with their Tom Cullity. There
is also a stable of fine producers whose “standard” premium wine is of
The points given in this tasting are quite arbitrary as all
the reviewed wines are quite extraordinary.
It has never been a better time to be a wine drinker in Australia!
Deep Woods –
Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2016
(18.5+/20pts – $70). Wow, the fruit here is impressive. Dense and powerful
initially, but becoming quite restrained on the finish as the dusty tannins and
oak shut down the fruit. Built for the long haul, and likely to get higher
points in the future.
Deep Woods –
Cabernet Sauvignon – Yallingup Vineyard –
2014 (19/20pts- $130). Wow, whilst almost perfumed, this is big! Intense dark
berry fruit floods the palate lingering for what seems like minutes.
Ultimately, the fine tannins and supple oak start to rein the fruit back,
leaving a drying finish that demands another sip. Great wine!
Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann – 2016
(18.7+/20pts). Restrained and elegant, but full of life all the same. Pristine
red currant fruit with hints of black cherry and tar. The palate is silky and
fine, but needs years to show its best, as the complex, perfumed fruit is quite
Howard Park –
Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2016 (18.8/20pts). Wow, spectacular fruit
and winemaking! This is supple and balanced, yet is packed full of ripe
blackcurrant fruit. The finish gets a little closed, as the very fine tannins
build and shut down the fruit. Brilliant, but will be better in 20 years.
Leeuwin Estate –
Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series –
2015 (18.8/20pts – $69). This is seductive and sensuous, with velvety fruit
flooding the senses. That said, the acid/tannin balance adds life and depth.
Very long and very fine, this is a brilliant wine that could be drunk with
pleasure now, but will be best with at least a decade in the cellar. An
Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017 (18.5/20pts – $40). Intense and perfumed black
currant and cassis fruit on the nose, with just a touch of tobacco leaf. The
palate shows refined red berries, with hints of liquorice and spice. The fruit
is the primary focus, with the oak adding texture on the close. This excellent
wine is a side project of the talented Julian Langworthy at Deep Woods.
Penfolds – Cabernet
Sauvignon – Bin 169 – 2016 (19/20pts
– $350). Wow, I love the perfumed fruit here. Intense, powerful and
impressively textured, with extreme length and persistence. Classic Coonawarra
Cabernet at its best.
Cabernet Sauvignon – 707 – 2016 (18.8++/20pts
– $650). Intense, powerful, closed, tight, firm, structured, textured and chewy. With air, this is like drinking Cabernet
essence, such is the concentration of the fruit. Timeless wine that will
Singlefile – Cabernet
Sauvignon – The Philip Adrian – 2016 (18.7/20pys – $100). Really deep, powerful
and concentrated, yet this has grace and balance. On the palate, there is very
intense fruit but it manages to show a degree of restraint. The finish is, for
all intent and purposes, seamless and the fruit lingers, opening in layers.
Amazingly good now, but will be at its best after 20 years+. Very impressive
packaging adds to the appeal.
Vasse Felix –
Cabernet Sauvignon – Tom Cullity –
2015 (18.7+/20pts). Textured, savoury, earthy and chewy, this is a powerhouse
of a wine. Intense blackcurrant fruit and spice combine with grip from the oak
to create a wine for the long haul. Sophisticated and stylish, this is all
potential right now.
Yarra Yering – Cabernet
Sauvignon – Caroudus – 2016
(18.8/20pts – $250). Lithe and fresh in comparison to some of the Western
Australian wines, with a purity to the fruit that is breathtaking. A very fine,
age-worthy wine that will be at its best with at least 10-15 years in the
Voyager Estate – Cabernet
Sauvignon – MJW – 2014 (18.7/20pts). Supple
red berry fruit, fine oak and elegant, restrained tannins express on a very
long and fine finish. The fruit builds in layers on the palate. What a great
way to end the tasting. A refreshing, youthful, high acid style that leaves you
wanting another sip.
The other day, I found myself in a supermarket looking to
buy toothpaste. I was confronted with two, maybe three different brands, and
only had to choose between “whitening” or “Extra Whitening” options!
I left the supermarket to walk into the neighbouring bottle
shop (as is my wont), and there was confronted with walls and walls of wine. I
thought to myself that this was much more of a delicious challenge! But I also
wondered if such choice represents a dilemma for many.
It is no surprise that we return to familiar brands, styles
and varieties in wine choice, and no surprise that we rely on the
recommendation or advice of others in making our choice. The subject of fashion
in wine, and the importance of a brand’s story was the subject of a previous
Yet I believe there is a way out of the quagmire. Just a
little bit of knowledge can go a long way….
To some, the wall can be threatening, overwhelming, almost
closing in. But breaking down the parts of the wall is the first step. Thea
easiest breakdown is red, white or bubbles. After that there are typical styles
and varieties – that vary depending upon aromatic intensity, aromatic profile,
palate weight, tannin structure, even acidity and alcohol content.
The key, I feel, is to sample enough wines to know what you
like – and what you might be looking for on that particular occasion. Food is a
factor, but ultimately, your preferences are what matters most.
It will not take long before you develop a familiarity with
those preferences. For example, my own personal tastes are for a preference of
Riesling over Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, exceptions apply, and
preferences can vary from occasion to occasion and even within a variety.
German off dry Rieslings from the Mosel can be as different
from a high octane, high alcohol dry Riesling from the Wachau in Austria – and
there may be certain occasions when I would prefer one over the other. If I
were to be choosing a wooded white style, my preference would be for a more
sleek and slender or linear incarnation rather than a bigger style.
I prefer Pinot Noir and Cabernet to Shiraz (I know,
blasphemy for an Aussie!), and have an idea of the different manifestations of
say Margaret River and Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.
So on entering the bottle shop, it is not a big wall you are
confronted with, but a small part of that wall. And even then, only a few
“bricks” in the wall are relevant. I strongly feel that such a level of comfort
and ease with wine choices are within the grasp of most people.
Recently I found myself at a top-end Pinot Noir tasting
where the very best of Australasian Pinot Noirs were on show. I have to say
that I did not taste a “dud” wine. But my own preferences came to the fore. And
I was able to identify those wines that might be more attractive to those
seeking, for example, greater new oak influence, or greater extraction. There
were those in the more floral/strawberry spectrum, and yet others in the cherry
spectrum. Even then, you could choose black, red, or Maraschino cherries,
depending on your whim! I could see the quality in all the wines, but looked
for a style I like. So while I rated all the wines highly, I only put in an
order for one….
Whilst Fine Wine Club is not about making money (it actually
costs me money to run), there are some great perks to the job, such as being
able to taste dozens of very high-quality wines in a week.
There are some varieties that are just that little bit more
special to taste than others, and Cabernet Sauvignon, either alone or blended is
one of those. Part of the attraction is that Australia (and Western Australia
in particular) makes Cabernet-based wines that are the equal of any in the
world when assessed for quality as well as value, so the quality of our
tastings can be quite high.
This week was a good one, having reviewed over 40 of
Australia’s best Cabernets, including the current Penfolds big wines. And while
it is easy to write reviews about Tom Cullity, Vanya etc, it was the quality of
the second tier Cabernets from Howard Park (Leston) and Singlefile’s (Single
Vineyard) that gave me the most enjoyment.
Whilst not quite as dense and powerful as their big
brothers, these wines offer that rare combination of being a great drink now,
as well as being capable of being cellared for at least a decade or two. But do
give them an hour in a decanter (or double decant) to let the fruit shine if
you are drinking them young.
Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017 (17.5/20pts – $25). Fresher and more approachable,
with supple red currant fruit supported by just a lick of savoury oak and
refreshing acidity. Great drinking now – 5 years with grilled meats.
Singlefile – Cabernet Sauvignon – Single Vineyard – 2017 (18.6/20pts – $39). I like this a lot! Excellent quality fruit in the mulberry spectrum has been skillfully matched to subtle, savoury oak. Whilst lithe and approachable, there are plenty of fine tannins, supple oak and balancing acidity to keep this relatively restrained at first, suggesting the ability for extended aging (this was brilliant drinking after two days on the tasting bench). At $39, this is surely a bargain.
Howard Park – Cabernet
Sauvignon – Leston – 2016 (18.5/20pts
– $48). This was actually quite muted to start but really opened up with air. The
palate has fresh berry fruit, silky tannins and savoury oak adding depth but
not overt flavours. The balance that is a highlight, with this wine having the
rare ability to drink just as well now as it will in 10-15 years. Super!
Every year, in London, Sydney and San Francisco, the
Institute of masters of Wine hosts Bordeaux tastings. The biggest of these are
in London, but a very significant number of producers was on show in Sydney
this last weekend.
The format is similar in most years – with wines laid out
according to appellation, with the Left bank and Right bank reds and Botrytised
whites represented. As always, the few select “First Growths” represented – on
a table all of their own, are a sought after highlight.
The vintage was an interesting one, with most critics
agreeing it is the best since the 2009/2010 stellar vintage duo. Vintages in
Bordeaux have been disappointing to an extent since those two vintages. While
there is hype about the 2015 vintage, the 2014s did not disappoint.
I arrived early and saw the wines when they were opened.
Along with Rob Geddes MW and Neil Hadley MW, we checked the wines, giving us
the opportunity to assess them in broad strokes as well.
As a side note, only four bottles were faulty in some way,
out of the two samples each of the 60 wines sent by the Institute. The vagaries
My general impressions aligned with comments of others about
the vintage – generally Left Bank Cabernet Sauvignon based wines looked better
than Right bank wines, with Margaux, Pauillac and St Julien particularly
notable. Also, the “usual suspects” shone, as did a few other aspirational
producers – see below. There were some in the aspirational camp who had perhaps
tried a little too hard – so that oak tended to dominate the fruit.
Overall, I thought the vintage was reminiscent of 2008, also
“saved” by some late, fine weather, but would perhaps appeal more to classical
palates – the wines were generally reserved, tight and structured, and though
fruit was present in the background, some years will need to pass for the
tannins to yield.
In less-than-perfect years, it is my view that “terroir” shows through more clearly.
Below is a list of my picks:
Pinot Noir remains the holy grail for many wine drinkers. At
its best, the grape is capable of producing wines of extraordinary beauty and complexity.
All too often, however, events in the vineyard (and winery) conspire to make
less than exciting wines.
In this tasting, for example, of the 16 wines reviewed only
two made it to this review. Fortunately, the two that made it are both cracking
wines. Different in style to each other, but both delicious examples of
Australian Pinot Noir.
Pooley – Pinot
Noir – 2017 (18/20pts – $45). Perfumed and lifted fruit on the nose leads onto
a palate that has sweet cherry and berry fruit, with just a hint of fresh plum
and spice. This is quite rich and opulent, in a most attractive way. On the
finish, the fruit flavours linger and are framed by fine acidity and tannins.
Great drinking now with food. From
Mac Forbes –
Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2018
(18/20pts – $33). Whilst the single vineyard wines from Mac Forbes tend to
steal the limelight, it was the entry-level Yarra Valley Pinot Noir that got
the panel the most excited, due to the value that it offers. Initially a little
shy, but there is really good fruit on show. Builds depth with air, the fruit becoming
very attractive and fragrant. The palate is a little lean and sinewy to start,
but again hits its straps with air. Good value.
There has been much written about Australian Chardonnays
over the years, documenting the changing styles and fashions. In the 1990s the
trend was for big, ripe, buttery Chardonnays, with plenty of oak. This evolved
over the 2000s, with the fruit richness and oak flavours gradually being wound
Around 2010, the pendulum moved to the other end of the
spectrum. Led by key wine critics and winemakers (particularly in Victoria),
the trend was for high acid, early-picked examples, where the fruit was dialled
right back. These wines needed years to show their best and were not always the
most approachable while they were still young.
Throughout this time, Leeuwin Estate maintained a steady
style, producing fine, elegant wines that were capable of extended aging, but
were also great drinking early on. In any given year, the Art Series Chardonnay
is amongst the country’s finest. Given that it has been at the highest level
for almost 40 years makes this one of Australia’s greatest wines of any
Besides the wines, there was another story that unfolded
during this tasting: the impact of the closure used on the condition of the wine.
There was a marked difference in the freshness of the wines, with those under
screw cap (2003 onwards) far fresher and more consistent than the earlier wines
(of which more than one bottle had to be opened on the night to find a good
example for the tasting).
There were a number of highlights on the night; the 1990,
for example, demonstrated just how well these wines can age (cork permitting).
In terms of sheer quality, there were no bad wines at all,
but a few of the vintages really stood out. The 2000 was great drinking and the
2003 remarkably fresh and youthful. The truly great wines on the night came
from 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2016.
Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay
– Art Series – 1990. Honeyed and
rich, yet still with life and balance. The palate is rich, rounded and textured,
with excellent length of flavours. In remarkable condition and great drinking.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2000. Fresh
and vibrant, with peach-like fruit and gentle honeyed notes. The acidity is a
highlight. Almost Chablis in character, with minerality a feature. The palest
colour of the wines under cork, this was considered to be a very good bottle.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2001. What
a shame. Ever so slightly tainted and no back-up available on the night (previous
bottles have been excellent).
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2002. Under
cork, this had a golden colour and was very developed. Enjoyable drinking, but
sure to be better bottles out there.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2003. A
notable change in colour and very fresh in comparison. Here, the honey
characters have been replaced by more toasty notes. The acid is muted, but
there is enough freshness to make this great drinking. Lingering toffee finish
a highlight. No rush to drink these.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2004. Wow,
this is a step up in freshness and concentration. Delightful peachy fruit,
subtle toast and balancing acidity. Long and complex, with excellent mouth-feel,
this is vibrant and delicious. Opens with air, developing richness of fruit and
great length and balance. Super wine!
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2005. Lighter
colour, and even fresher, the ripe fruit here is absolutely superb. The palate
is fine, elegant, and balanced, with great acid structure and length. Restrained
and youthful, this has a decade ahead of it, but why wait? A vinous highlight.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2006. A
touch more colour compared to the ‘05 and ‘07, this has more toast, but less
fruit. That said, it still has good acidity. Generosity of flavours makes up
for the longevity, but probably best to drink this vintage sooner than later.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2007. Wow.
This is spectacular. Delicate, refined and supple, yet this has power to boot. There
is superb fruit, balance and mouth-feel. Restrained, but all components are in
harmony and there is great length of flavours. An ethereal wine that has a
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2008.
Amazingly, this tastes like it was released just yesterday. Taut and fresh,
with high acidity. With air, this opens and shows a touch of lime notes. Easy
to be overlooked next to the 2007, but a lovely wine that has real potential.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2009.
Unfortunately, this wine could not be found on the night.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2010. What
a beautiful wine. Fine, elegant, refined and supple, yet the balance is the
best of any wine to date, making this also the best drinking. With finer
acidity and brilliant fruit, this will be even better in 10 years. One of my
wines of the night.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2011. A
little more restrained than the 2010, this needs a few years to really open up.
Again, the balance is brilliant, with fine grapefruit-like acidity and supple
peach and nectarine fruit. Youthful vitality and richness, with excellent fruit
weight but give it time.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2012. Finesse
and poise are the features of this sublime wine. Seamless and restrained, with a
spine-tingling presence. Almost ethereal, there is a nervous tension to the
wine. A little polarising, but a personal favourite.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2013. Melon
and grapefruit to the fore. This is textured, chewy and full of potential, yet
remarkably good drinking already. The finish is near seamless and the acid
balance is a highlight. With air, this starts to develop peachy fruit. Another
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2014. This
is quite firm and taut. Having said that, the balance is exemplary, with the
acid cutting through the fruit richness. Needs years to show its best, but with
air, the fruit richness builds and you get a glimpse of just how good this wine
is. Will age with grace.
Leeuwin Estate –
Chardonnay – Art Series – 2015. Spectacular,
fine and restrained, yet with depth and power. This is youthful, and needs
years to hit its peak, but there is no doubting the sheer quality of the fruit
underlying this wine. A wine for the long haul.
Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2016. I have written recently about just how good this is, but on the night: More perfumed, with lovely floral highlights. The palate is shy and restrained, with the balance and mouth-feel a highlight. Needs a few years, but this may well be the greatest Leeuwin Chardonnay released to date. A great way to end the evening.