Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Leeuwin Estate – Art Series White Wines

Barry Weinman: August 23rd 2015

Leeuwin Estate – Art Series Whites Wines

Leeuwin Estate is rightly famous for their Art Series Chardonnay. This is a wine of great quality that has set the benchmark for Australian Chardonnays for many years. As a result, it is easy to pay only scant attention to the rest of the wines in their portfolio. That would, however, be a mistake…

The current release of whites offers broad appeal. Of particular note is the Siblings SBS. This is a really interesting example, yet is made in an approachable, early drinking style, and at an affordable price.

Then there is the 2012 Art Series Chardonnay. Another spectacular wine under this label and a bargain when compared to other great wines of the world.2015 Leeuwin Estate Whites


Leeuwin Estate – Riesling – Art Series – 2014 (17.5). (RRP $22). A notably different profile to the Rieslings from Clare and the Great Southern. Very pale in the glass. The nose and palate are restrained, tight and very steely. In the mouth there is bracing acidity to close. This is a neutral, food friendly style now, but is sure to blossom with 10 years in the bottle.

Leeuwin Estate – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Siblings – 2014 (17.6). (RRP $23) Cut grass, fresh herbs and asparagus on the nose with tropical hints. The palate is quite complex, with grassy, savoury notes over a core of ripe cool climate fruit characters. Partial barrel ferment/lees stirring adds depth without adding overt flavours. There is just the right amount of residual sugar to balance the fresh acidity, making this an excellent drink now. Who needs food?!

Leeuwin Estate – Sauvignon Blanc – Art Series – 2014 (17.5 – 18). (RRP $32). Wonderful floral, perfumed fruit on the nose. The palate is quite dry and savoury, with delicate, precise fruit set against a textural background aided by barrel ferment characters. Restrained, with fine though plentiful acidity, this will be a joy to drink with seared scallops now, or on its own in a year or two.

Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Prelude Vineyards – 2014 (17). (RRP $34). Very pale colour. Lively and fresh, with peach and tropical fruit characters and zesty acidity. Excellent early drinking and a good alternative to NZ SB. A satisfying drink that will gain complexity with a year or two in bottle.

Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2012 (18.7+). (RRP $94). Relatively pale hue. The nose is fantastic! Complex, yet restrained, with lovely stone fruit notes. The palate is rich and textured, with citrus and white peach, over pineapple acidity. Very long and persistent, yet the intense fruit possesses a degree of restraint. The fine fruit and creamy oak meld into a seamless package. This is drinking very well now, but will reward after a few years in the cellar. Superb!

Chardonnay – New Release – May 2015

My love affair with Western Australian Chardonnay shows no sign of ending any time soon. Whether the fruit comes from Margaret River, Porongurup, Denmark or Mount Barker does not seem to impact on the quality. In fact, some, like Howard Park, blend fruit from several of these areas.

Interestingly, despite the climatic differences between these districts, this does not seem to directly translate into the wine style produced. Picking time and winemakers’ inputs also play a big role, along with clonal selection for the vineyards.

To keep the locals honest, I put a bottle of the Coldstream Hills Chardonnay into the tasting (Yarra Valley). This is a cracking wine and, at $25 on special from Vintage Cellars, represents very good value.

It was the wines of Howard Park and Singlefile that flew the flag admirably for the locals. This is the first time that I have seen both wineries’ new flagships


Howard Park – Chardonnay – Allingham – 2013 (18.5+). Cashew nut, lemon zest, grapefruit and spice, with complexity and structure from the fine-grained high quality oak. Fine acidity adds to the mouth-feel. The underlying power of the wine becomes apparent with air. This is a lovely, refined wine, with great depth of fruit and supple texture. A superb drink now or in 5+ years. (RRP $89).

Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2014 (18/18.5). Complex, though subtle worked characters here. Minerals/curry leaf, partial malo, lees contact and quality oak all add to the package. The flavour profile matches the nose, with stonefruit, pineapple and citrus notes. Long and quite restrained, with nutty characters and apricot kernel astringency to close. An excellent wine that will be even better in 5 years. (RRP $50).

Singlefile – Chardonnay – The Vivienne – 2012 (18/18.5). A leaner, more restrained style that appears somewhat immature at this stage. Full of potential, the taut grapefruit and melon notes are the main flavours now. With air, the texture and lovely mouth-feel really shine, aided by deftly handled oak leading on to a very long, drying palate. Give it 5 years to see it at its best. (RRP $80).

Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2014 (18.3). Restrained and fine, though the high quality fruit and winemaking is evident. Pineapple like acidity carries the finish. Modern and lively, this is another wine that needs a few years to come into its own. That said, the balance and structure are exemplary. A complex, mouth-watering wine that needs time. (RRP $54).

Coldstream Hills – Chardonnay – 2013 (18). Youthful, almost zesty fruit gives way to complex fruit characters. The high quality oak adds depth and texture, yet is in no-way overt. Long and taut, this has excellent presence and mouth-feel, with drying acidity to close. A fine wine that will be best in 2 – 3 years, or with food now.

Marchand and Burch – Chardonnay – Porongurup – 2014 (18 – 18.5). This is a richly textured wine with great depth of fruit. Opens with lovely pineapple and stonefruit characters. The palate is very long, with savoury complexity and minerals becoming apparent on the finish. This is a very powerful wine that will be at its best in 3 – 5 years. (RRP $73).

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Higher Plane – February 2015

Reviewed: 10th February 2015

Higher Plane was established in 1996 by Cathie and Craig Smith, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The vineyard is close planted (4000 vines per hectare).

In 2006, the winery and vineyards were purchased by Juniper Estate (established/owned by the Hill Family) and Mark Messenger assumed responsibility for wine making. In conjunction with Ianto Ward, who took over management of the vineyards in 2008, the wines have never looked better!


Higher Plane – Sauvignon Blanc – South By Southwest – 2014 (17). A decent wine that sits in the middle of the road, with gentle tropical fruit being the primary focus. A crowd pleasing style. (RRP $22).

Higher Plane – Sauvignon Blanc – Barrel Fermented – 2014 (17.5). This is a savoury, food friendly wine that has grassy notes with a touch of almond and stone fruit. The palate has a touch of viscosity and crisp, lemony acidity. The lees contact and barrel ferment characters add a lovely textural component and there is excellent length. Great value (RRP $25).

Higher Plane – Chardonnay – 2012 (18.5). Opens with tropical/pineapple fruit, leading on to stone fruit and melon aromas. The palate is long, fine and silky, with cashew nut and spice highlights. The texture and balance are a highlight. With high-quality fruit and oak, handled sympathetically in the winery, this is a complete wine and a lovely drink. (RRP $40).

Higher Plane – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – South By Southwest – 2011 (18). I like the way the high quality fruit and earthy notes combine into a complex, savoury package. There are hints of mocha, and the cedar-like oak complements the fruit, without dominating. The structure is a highlight, with chewy tannins to close. Bargain. (RRP $22).

Higher Plane – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2010 (18.5+). This is a very fine wine. The fruit is perfectly ripe, yet subtle and shy. The structure is fine and savoury, with silky oak and fine tannins cloaking the fruit at present. Excellent length and persistence.Patience is required though, as this requires several years for the structure to unwind and for the fruit to open up. Sophisticated and polished. (RRP $50).

Bannockburn – Current Release Pinot and Chardonnay

Reviewed: 3rd August 2013

Michael Glover, the winemaker at Bannockburn is a (self-proclaimed) very lucky man!  According to Michael, the quality of the fruit that comes from the Bannockburn vineyards is so exceptional, that it makes him look good.

I am the first to agree that the fruit that goes into the Bannockburn range is truly outstanding.  I am not so naive as to say, however, that the winemaker has not had a significant role in harnessing the quality fruit and transforming it in to a range of stunning wines.

One of the highlights of the tasting was to see the terroir of the vineyards expressed in each wine that we tried.  Michael is passionate about site expression and believes that this only happens when yields are very low.  I use the term terroir loosely, as for me, it is the intersection of the soil, the climate, the vines and, most importantly, the people who transform the grapes in to the finished product.

Michael’s fingerprints are all over these wines, but that is a very good thing.  There is a consistency across the entire range, where texture, complexity and depth are valued over power and where the winemaking inputs are supple and subtle.  Having said that, with the exception of sulphur, these wines are made without additions in the winery.

These are very high quality wines where the winemaking has allowed the fruit to truly express its sense of place, albeit in a very tight, age-worthy package.  Even the sauvignon blanc (a wine of great complexity) would benefit from three to five years in the cellar.

The two highlights of the tasting were both from the stellar 2010 vintage.  Both the “standard” chardonnay and the Stuart pinot noir are nothing short of spectacular.  The rest of the range is remarkably consistent and of very high quality.  In many ways my choices come down to personal preference, as these are all excellent wines.

Two caveats for the tasting:  Firstly, this was not a blind tasting and the winemaker was present.  Secondly, all the reds were sealed with natural cork.


Bannockburn – Sauvignon Blanc – 2012 (17.7).  This wine has a very complex, worked and powerful nose, with spice, struck-match and flint-like minerality.  The palate is dense and powerful, though surprisingly closed and restrained at present.  Lemony, long and fine, I would like to see this again in a year or two, as it is sure to age well for 5+ years.  100% barrel ferment in puncheons.  2/3 French, 1/3 Italian (made from acacia rather than oak).  The vines are 25 years old and have low yields (2kg/vine).  Aims to be uniquely Bannockburn!
(After 3 days on the tasting bench, this developed remarkably floral fruit aromas).

Bannockburn – Chardonnay – 2010 (18.5+).  Beautiful nose that stands out for its elegance and finesse, with hints of almond meal.  There is a delicate minerality running through both the nose and palate.  There is crisp stonefruit, with layers of creamy oak and delicate floral notes on the palate.  Very long, though this is restrained and a touch linear now.  Superb balance between the restrained fruit and quality oak.  With near seamless palate transition, this is a spectacular wine!  From 30-year-old vines, the wine spends 2 years on lees and has 100% malo-lactic fermentation.  It took 24 hours on the tasting bench for it to open up and show its best, but the result was memorable!

Bannockburn – Chardonnay – S R H – 2009 (18).  Richer and more developed, but yet retains the elegance of the standard release.  Fine and restrained, with seamless oak and very precise, focused acidity to close.  Mouth-feel and texture the key here.  Whilst I marginally preferred the focus and poise of the 2010 “standard” release, this is a remarkably fine wine.  Wait 5 years to start drinking.  ($77, only 100 cases made).

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – 2009 (17.8).  Chewy, dense, textured, long, sappy and savoury.  This wine is not about primary fruit, it is about the textural experience.  There is, however lovely fruit underneath this, with spicy, dark cherry notes.  The silky finish brings it all together, but it needs years for the fruit to emerge from its cocoon.  Lovers of structured Burgundy will get a kick out of this wine.

The similarities to Nuit St George were remarkable, to the point that I had to open a bottle of 1er Cru Burgundy as a comparison.  The similarities were marked, though there was a touch more ripeness to the fruit of this wine.  2009 was a low yielding, tannic vintage, and the wine had 100% whole bunch fermentation.  12.5% alc. $53 rrp.

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – Stuart – 2010 (18.5+).  In contrast to the structure of the 2009 pinot, this wine is seductive and totally gorgeous.  Initially, this is lighter in structure, while the fruit is more floral.  This is immediately approachable, yet has elegance, length and persistence.  The perfume flows from the palate back into the nose, boosting the enjoyment further.  Silky and very fine, though the structure and power really builds with time in the glass.

A delightful wine now or in five + years.  The ethereal notes that this wine offered up as it sat in the glass harked to the great wines from Chambolle Musigny.  (Named after the founder Stuart R Hooper.  $70rrp and a bargain).

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – Serre – 2008 (18.5).  Gorgeous fruit on both the nose and palate, though this is cloaked in a shroud of restraint.  On the palate there is cherry, spice and a wonderful silky mouth-feel.  The long and savoury finish cries out for food.  Again, this is near seamless.  Amazing intensity with the proverbial peacock’s tail finish (the fruit really fans out and evolves, providing flavour and texture to the entire palate).

Using the comparisons to Burgundy again, this is more in the mould of Vosne Romanee.  The fruit for this wine comes from a separate, close-planted vineyard.  (9000 vines per hectare, average yield 500gm of fruit per vine, but can be as low as 250gm/vine).  $91rrp.


Magnum Lunch

Fraser’s Restaurant

24th May 2013

Eighteen wine enthusiasts, twenty one magnums of outstanding wine and one of Perth’s best chefs recently combined for a truly memorable experience. No occasion was needed to bring a remarkable collection of both wines and people together for the second magnum lunch at Fraser’s Restaurant in Kings Park.

The lunch was conceived by John Jens, but it was Bob Winterbottom who made the lunch a reality. Bob set the guidelines for what wines could be brought and coordinated selections to ensure that there was a spread of wines from various styles. Once the list was finalised, Bob passed this on to Chris Taylor at Fraser’s. Chris developed a spectacular meal that complemented the wines superbly.

There were so many vinous highlights that it seems unfair to give the wines points. Needless to say that many of the wines would have been awarded gold medals. I will go out on a limb and say that the line-up was one of the best collections of wine that I have tasted in years.

One highlight for me was the bracket of Corton Charlemagne’s from Bonneau du Martray. It was fascinating to see how the style has evolved over the last few years. The 2008 was drinking spectacularly, but the 2010 was, quite possibly, the greatest wine of the tasting.

Another highlight was the three Second Growths from Bordeaux. Whilst the quality of the 2000 vintage was superbly highlighted by the Leoville Barton and the Cos d’Estronnel, the 2001 Leoville Las Cases was also a superstar.

The food that was prepared to accompany the wines was uniformly superb. For me, the highlight was the roast whole pig! A special mention must go to William and Bronwyn from Fraser’s who provided us with superb service throughout the event.

Ultimately though, it was the company of the other 17 wine tragics who attended that made the day so memorable.

How soon can we do it again???


We started the lunch on the restaurant forecourt where Chris shucked Ceduna oysters as we sipped on the four Champagnes. It was a perfect start, the picturesque backdrop only adding to the sense of occasion.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 1996. This wine stood out for its great finesse and balance. Yes, it was fully mature, but there was still life and vitality. A great way to start. (From Magnum).

Krug – Champagne – NV. Remarkably, this had spent 11 years in bottle since it was purchased. Fully mature, complex, rich and finely balanced, this was a great drink and perfectly complemented by the ocean tang of the oysters. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – 1990. Unfortunately, the cork on this spoiled the party. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – Oenotheque – 1996. Unbelievably fresh and tight, the lemony citrus characters leading the charge on both the nose and the palate. This needs years to reach its drinking peak but is a superb wine!


The pairing of the Climens and the parfait was an inspired combination. The silky texture of the parfait was the perfect foil to the wines richness.

Chateau Climens – Barsac – 1995. Balanced, precise, rich (though not in any way cloying) and very long. Apricot, almond and marzipan combine with wonderful spice notes on both the nose and the palate. Whilst this is superb now, it will last for many more years.

White Burgundy and Chablis

Given the refinement of the wines in this bracket, I was concerned that the mushroom risotto that accompanied it would overwhelm the fruit. In reality, the risotto was remarkably delicate and refined, adding a lovely backdrop to the whites.

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2004. A very complex wine, the minerals and honey on the nose combined well with the toasty, developed characters on the palate. Powerful, intense and very long, this has developed very nicely. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2008. Sublime drinking here. Grapefruit and lemony acid lead onto complex mineral characters, spice and a hint of curry leaf. Outstanding drive and length to a wine that is great now, but will also develop well for a few years. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2010.  Precise, focused and tight, this is a restrained and silky wine that flows seamlessly to a very long finish. A stunning wine and one of my favourites for the day. (From Magnum).

Domaine Francois RaveneauChapelot – Chablis – 1er Cru – 2009. Very tight, lean and racy, with lemon, nectarine and citrus rind notes. Outstanding length to a wine that needs 5 years to really start to hit its straps. (From Magnum).

Domaine Baron Thenard – Le Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2007. Opens with really tangy citrus notes. A very powerful wine that has subtle minerals and a very fine texture. Creamy and very long, this is a superb wine of power and restraint. Will age for years, but this is sublime!

Blain Gagnard – Batard Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2006. This is a very powerful wine, though the nose is remarkably tight at present. A big wine that still needs a few years for the powerful fruit to fully integrate with the oak and show its best. (From Magnum).

Red Burgundy

The Burgundies were accompanied by a complex and artistically prepared dish of braised lamb. A delicious dish, with the natural acidity of the wines complementing the richness of the food.

Pousse d’Or  – Volnay – 1er Cru – Caillerets – 1990. This bottle had, perhaps, seen better days as it was very earthy and old fashioned. (From Magnum).

Armand Rousseau – Ruchottes-Chambertin – Grand Cru – Clos des Ruchottes – 2007. Silky, sweet fruit with pepper and lovely spice highlights. The texture, balance and power have all the hallmarks of a great wine! Despite the powerful fruit, this is elegant, refined and very long. A great wine!

Mommessin – Clos de Tart – Grand Cru – 2008. Pepper, spice and cinnamon come to the fore here. Superb length and balance combine with a silky texture to make this a stunning wine. (From Magnum).

Mongeard Mugneret – Clos de Vougeot – Grand Cru – 2005. Leaner and more structured than the Clos de Tart, this is still youthful, long, fine and powerful. There are cherry fruit notes, while the finish fans out like the proverbial peacocks tail. A superb wine that is immensely long. (From Magnum).

Bordeaux and Dry Reds

From a food perspective, the roast pork that accompanied the bigger reds was spectacular. The crispy skin combined beautifully with the succulent meat. There were Asian cues to the preparation with galangal being an integral part of the seasoning.

In many respects, this dish stole the show!

Chateau Léoville Las Cases – St Julien – 2001. A brilliant wine, though the fruit is wrapped up in a very structured cloak. The tannins are firm, though very fine, while the supple oak complements the fruit perfectly. A powerful wine that will last for years, yet is a joy to drink now. (From Magnum).

Chateau Cos d’Estournel – St Julien – 2000. This is a great wine. The fruit is sweeter than the Las Cases (perhaps reflecting the year), though the wine is still very powerful. Wonderful length and texture, the fruit framed by very fine tannins. A complete wine. (From Magnum).

Chateau Leoville Barton – St Julien – 2000. Another stunning effort. This wine is silky and supple, with wonderful tannin and oak management. The most structured of the three St Juliens, this is masculine and very youthful. (From Magnum).

Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard  – Cabernet Sauvignon – 1986. Perhaps more than any wine here, the Phelps polarised the group. Spectacular fruit quality and power, but the wine initially appeared a little rustic and old fashioned courtesy of a touch of Brettanomyces. Certainly evolved in the glass and improved significantly as it opened up. (From Magnum).

J L Chave – Hermitage – 1983. This wine is totally, seductive, elegant and fully mature. The palate is defined by its finesse and length, the acidity providing drive right through to the close. From a drinking point of view, this wine was my favourite of the reds! (From Magnum).


At the end of such a spectacular lunch and with plenty of red wine still on the table, we finished with a selection of cheeses. An excellent way to end a memorable day.

Franck Bonville – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – 2006. A superb way to end the meal, the freshness, balance and power left the palate refreshed (although it did not really refresh my mind at this point!)


New Release Whites

Reviewed: 23rd May 2013

The panel looked at a bracket of chardonnays, as well as a selection of aromatic white wines for this tasting. In many ways, the highlight of the tasting was the arneis from Patritti. A distinctive wine of real charm.

For me, the wine of the tasting was the Singlefile Chardonnay, followed by the Swings and Roundabouts. Both very modern and showing excellent handling.

The final bracket was pinot gris/pinot grigio. You might ask what is the difference. As it turns out, there is no difference. It is the same grape, but coming from different regions. Gris from France and grigio from Italy. Traditionally, the styles have been quite different. Gris is made in a fresher, more aromatic style whereas grigio has been made in a dry/neutral style with food being a key consideration.

  • Tasted:        14 wines
  • Reviewed:    6 Wines


Singlefile – Chardonnay – 2011 (18). Subtle minerals, curry leaf and creamy oak compliments the high quality fruit. The palate is restrained, yet the fruit builds and develops. The finish is persistent, long and supple, the oak just sitting over the fruit initially, but settling back with air to add texture and structure. Tight and lean, this will be even better with 3 – 4 years under its belt. Demonstrates excellent winemaking. From Denmark.

Swings & Roundabouts – Chardonnay – Backyard Stories – 2012 (17.5). This has a lovely nose that combines white peach and creamy, mealy notes with cashew nut complexity. On the palate there is excellent fruit characters and decent complexity courtesy of the slick winemaking. There is a seam of grapefruit running right through to the finish, leaving the palate refreshed and ready for another sip. The lovely mouth-feel and real length makes this a joy now or in 3 – 4 years. A leaner, modern style.

Patritti – Arneis – 2012 (17.2). This wine was a real surprise. It starts of quite neutral, dry and savoury, but really built to show a complex array of flavours including apricot, orange peel and perfume. The finish is long and textural. This is an interesting wine possessing real charm. Ideally suited to food, the neutral nature of the wine will work a treat with some pasta or even white fleshed fish. From the Adelaide Hills.

Grant Burge – Pinot Gris – East Argyle – 2012 (17). Quite a creamy nose with some density and possibly a little barrel ferment characters. There is a degree of phenolic richness and viscosity on the palate and there is excellent length, smart acidity and a lovely citrus tang on the finish. This is an excellent drink alone or one to partner with lighter Asian food. True to the “gris” style.

Yalumba – Chardonnay – Y Series – Unwooded – 2012 (16.8). Aromatic and vibrant on both the nose and the palate. There are savoury, stone fruit characters, lemony acid and hints of honeysuckle and spice. A smart little wine that would make an excellent SSB alternative.

Yerring Station – Chardonnay – Village – 2011 (16.8). Quite Chablis like. This has a complex nose that has curry leaf, minerality, nuttiness and subtle stone fruit. The palate is tight and restrained, appearing relatively simple at first, as the lemony acidity and creamy oak suppress the fruit. This wine needs a few years for the fruit to uncoil and express itself.  Reflective of the cool vintage and an enjoyable wine.

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay

Art Series Chardonnay – Pre-Release Tasting

Reviewed: 10th May 2013

Leeuwin Estate rightly has a reputation for producing one of Australia’s top few Chardonnays. When you combine the inherent quality with an unrivalled ability to age, I rate it as the country’s best.

As with almost all Leeuwin Estate wines, the chardonnay is held back in the cellar to allow it to come together before being released. This means that at a time when many wineries are selling their 2012 whites, we gathered to try Leeuwin Estate’s 2010 Chardonnay that is about to be released.

Given the quality, it is not surprising that the chardonnay gets the Rolls Royce treatment. The wine typically sees 100% new oak and great pains are taken to ensure that the oak is of the highest quality. Currently, the winery is using over 20 different types of oak barrels, supplied by a variety of coopers.

Each year, the composition of oak changes subtly as the winery adjusts the makeup to take advantage of the best coopers. In most years, there is no malo-lactic fermentation, the acidity is controlled in the vineyard via canopy management and astute grape harvesting. The vines that produce fruit for the Art Series Chardonnay are now 40 years old and are really in their prime.

Paul Atwood (Senior Winemaker) and Simone Horgan (Joint CEO) took the opportunity to show a mini-vertical of the Art Series Chardonnay, as well as a cross-section of current and upcoming releases from their stable of red wines. It has been an overriding aim of the winery to bring the quality of the reds up to that of the Chardonnay. The quality of the reds tasted suggests that they have succeeded admirably.

Finally, Paul gave me an overview of the 2013 vintage. The growing season started off with a burst of hot weather, giving wine-makers some concerns as to how balanced the fruit would be as it ripened. Later in the growing season however, the weather cooled considerably, allowing the fruit to finish ripening at a much slower pace. This meant that the grapes were able to develop excellent flavour profiles, without getting too high in sugar. It also allowed the grapes to retain excellent natural acidity.

The 2013 Riesling has just been blended and, apparently, the results are very good. The fruit was able to be taken off the vine quite early, with very balanced juice. Paul’s view is that 2013 will be a great year for their reds. The cool finish to the season allowed the fruit to develop excellent depth of flavours. The last cabernet was only picked in mid-April. Importantly, the chardonnay had excellent levels of acidity at harvest.

And the verdict?

The 2010 Art Series Chardonnay is the greatest Australian chardonnay I have ever tasted and is the equal of the greatest White Burgundies. The 2005 is another stunning wine that is just starting to hit its peak. The Prelude chardonnay is worth a mention given the excellent quality. Many wineries would be pleased have this as their premium wine!

Leeuwin Estate can quite rightly claim to be one of the finest wineries in Australia. It is the quality across the entire range that sets it apart from most.


Leeuwin Estate  – Riesling – Art Series – 2005 (18). This is remarkably fresh, with lime juice, minerals and gentle floral aromas. It has started to develop some toasty characters and just a touch of oiliness. The palate is quite rich and textured, with a touch of phenolic richness adding to the tasting. There is also a touch of nutty fruit to close. This is drinking superbly now, but will hold for a number of years. Paul suggests that the location of the vineyard, which sits in a valley, results in a cooler micro-climate compared to some of the other wineries in the region, allowing the riesling to flourish.

Leeuwin Estate  – Riesling – Art Series – 2012 (17.5- 18). Fragrant talc, minerals and subtle citrus characters on the nose. Like most Leeuwin rieslings that I have tried, this is quite closed and tight now, guaranteeing mid-term aging. The palate is true to the house style, with quite rich, powerful fruit complemented by a touch of phenolic richness. Quite different in style to those from the Great Southern, this needs a little time to settle and express itself.

Leeuwin Estate  – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Art Series – 2010 (18+). This leads off with wine-making influences resulting from barrel fermentation and regular lees stirring. The wine is complex, savoury, dense and textured. The grassy fruit characters really make their presence felt on the palate. There is bright, lemony acid and creamy, subtle oak on a palate that is very long and refined. The semillon adds depth to the palate with lovely citrus fruit. This makes many White Bordeaux’s look quite ordinary.

Leeuwin Estate  – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Art Series – 2011 (17.5-18). Very fresh compared to the 2010. The palate is much more linear and quite lean at first, suggesting that an extra year or two in bottle will really help. Opens to show lovely floral fruit on both the nose and palate in a pretty package. The oak influence on the palate is very subtle and fine, and the lemony acid carries the finish. The wine sees 11 months in barrel with weekly lees stirring. 20% of the oak is new. Given the development of the 2010, this is likely to improve for 5 years and may hold for much longer.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Prelude – 2012 (18). Very pretty fruit that is quite forward and floral on the nose. The palate is surprisingly powerful and intense, balancing peach like fruit characters with minerals, flint, match-strike and creamy oak. There is excellent length and mouth-feel and the fruit flavours linger. This is drinking remarkably well now, but should age for several years if you can resist. Sees 40% new oak, the remainder being second use.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2002 (N.R.). Developing, but still fresh. This was quite subdued on the nose, but opened with air. The palate is very powerful, with grapefruit followed by lovely stone-fruit and powerful minerality.  This gives way to a rich buttery finish. Delicious now.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2005 (18.7). Wow! This is lovely. An absolutely superb wine of great power and intensity, yet this has elegance and finesse. Superb length of flavours on a palate that is seamless and complete. There is still vibrant acidity that will ensure a very long life and the palate evolves for some time. A great wine from a perfect vintage.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2006 (17.9). This is quite different to the 2005, with a leaner fruit profile. The oak is just a little bit toastier than the 2005 and the palate more developed. A lovely wine that has excellent length and powerful fruit. For me, I would drink the 2006 now while waiting for the 05.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2009 (18/18.5). Restrained fruit that is subtle and refined showing hints of minerals, citrus and stone-fruit. There is still the tremendous power to the fruit that I have come to expect, but this is still quite tightly coiled and shy. With time though, this will unwind and develop into a superb wine. The creamy, tight, fine oak provides a seamless backdrop to the pristine fruit. The potential is evident. A sleeper.

Leeuwin Estate  – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2010 (18.9). This wine screams class right from the outset. So where to begin? The nose is tight, fine, reserved, elegant and creamy, with stone-fruit (nectarine) and citrus highlights. The palate is incredibly long, supple and refined, with the fruit characters evident, but not obvious. There is a subtly to this wine that is disarming, given the amazing length and intensity of the fruit. This is a truly great wine that needs 5 years to open up and will last for 15 years.

Leeuwin Estate  – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Prelude – 2010 (18). Vibrant red fruits on the nose. The palate has blackcurrant, spice, tobacco leaf and subtle, cedary oak. There are even hints of licorice and the texture is excellent. This really builds in the glass and shows excellent structure, with the tannins providing a textural backdrop to the quality fruit. Delicious now, but will age for 5 – 10 years.

Leeuwin Estate  – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2008 (18.3).  Opens with aromas of mint, gentle eucalypt, spice and a touch of cedary oak. The palate has red and blackcurrant fruit of tremendous depth and intensity. The power is evident, but like the chardonnay, this is tight and restrained, needing time to really show its best. There is almost a touch of cassis, but this complements the berry characters rather than dominates them. The cabernet comes from unirrigated, 40 year old vines. Significant attention is given to canopy management to ensure ripeness without losing elegance.

Leeuwin Estate  – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2009 (18.5). This is an interesting contrast to the 2010. This is all about structure and texture, rather than overt fruit flavours. The balance is excellent, with the fruit flavours hidden in the structure. Nothing out of place, but this is a reserved wine built for the long hall. In many ways, this is very much like fine Bordeaux. Superb.

Leeuwin Estate  – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2010 (18/18.5). Beautiful ripe fruit on the nose. The palate is deliciously juicy, with remarkably concentrated fruit sitting under the youthful exuberance. The balance is spot on, but at this early stage of its life, the acid sits on top of the fruit on the finish. The oak is very fine and supple providing excellent texture without adding obvious flavour. Will be superb.

Leeuwin Estate  – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2011 (18 – 18.5). The nose on this is amazing. It is an absolutely complete package. There is ripe fruit, but you can almost smell the textural components that add complexity. The palate is balanced, fine, refined and delicious. This is remarkably approachable now, so many will not get to see how this will develop. Start saving, as this will not be released for a year or two.

Leeuwin Estate  – Shiraz – Art Series – 2010 (18+). Closed and tight, reflecting the power and balance that the 2010 wines from Leeuwin are all showing. Pepper and spice on a palate that is tight and structured, with clever oak use. The finish is almost chewy but still supple and very long. A wine of power but in a cooler climate package. Not to be underestimated. (The vines for this were planted in 1997).



Burgundy 2008

Boot-Full of Wine

Tasting notes from Italy (and beyond)

March 2011

One of the most important events on the calendar of the Institute of Masters of Wine is the Annual Burgundy tasting. This year, the 2008 vintage was featured, and the tasting was organised in association with Les Domaines Familiaux de Tradition. I was lucky enough to be able to attend.

2008 was a difficult year in Burgundy, and has been christened “the miracle vintage”. The miracle to which they refer is the burst of sunshine the region experienced, accompanied by fresh (and, importantly, drying) northerly winds from the second week of September to the beginning of October.

The cool and humid start to spring was a harbinger of things to come. The whole growing season was wet and cool, with the crop beset by coulure climatique (physiological failure of fruit set) and millerandage (variation in berry size). 2007 was also a cool and wet vintage, but by the end of June, the 2008 vintage was further than three weeks behind where the 2007 grapes were at the same time.

Rot and mildew were a constant threat (those growing organically or biodynamically were particularly challenged), and called for attentive vineyard management. The period of sunshine helped greatly to keep these maladies at bay in the weeks before harvest, but though the sun shone, it was cool, especially at night. Thus the wind concentrated the sugar in the grapes, but full physiological ripeness was difficult to achieve.

The other key to producing good wines in this vintage (other than obsessional vineyard practices) was strict and often laborious sorting. I have heard that some producers rejected up to 40% of their fruit, giving yields as low as 16hl/ha.

As a result, I went to the tasting expecting that acidity levels would be very high (they were – in fact malolactic fermentation took ages to be completed), and that some wines (both red and white) would be a bit lean (indeed some were).

My overall impression was that whites fared better than reds, and that the Cotes de Nuits shaded the Cotes de Beaune (though I enjoyed several of the wines from Corton). I will confess that I am, as Michael Schuster puts it, one who likes my white Burgundy “taut, refreshing, aromatically complex and minerally”. There were no fat white Burgundies here!

But this vintage (though some would argue, every vintage) was more about the producer than the provenance of the wine. Those producers who were fastidious in both the vineyard practices and in their sorting were able to do great things. Below I will highlight a few producers whose wines I thoroughly enjoyed.


Chassagne-Montrachet – Les Chenevottes – 1er Cru (White). Lean and tight, rhubarb and citrus on the nose, good length and depth of palate. 17.5 pts

Beaune – Clos des Féves – 1er Cru (red). Wonderfully complex and balanced, amalgam of fruit and secondary flavours, silky tannins. 18.5 pts

Savigny-lés-Beaune – La Dominode – 1er Cru (red). Bright red translucence, very expressive nose, fruit and savoury elements, elegant and balanced. 18.5 pts


Chambolle Musigny (red). Sulphurous initially, which blew off. A thoroughly well made wine – each element of fruit, tannin and acid playing a part, but not individually intrusive. 17 pts

Morey-Saint-Denis – Clos de la Bussiére – 1er Cru (red). Lifted nose of sweet strawberries and cherries. A leanness to the palate but fruit flavours not unripe. 17 pts

Bonnes-Mares – Grand Cru – (red). When one tastes wines like this one realizes why people just go crazy about red Burgundy. This was a near perfect expression of pinot noir – cherry fruit, silky tannins, austere but with a rustic edge. Controlled power. 18.5 pts


Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru (white). Full, rich and powerful, with layers of complexity – palate variegated but integrated. Effects of battonage, MLF and oak evident, good acidity, and very persistent length. 18 pts

Corton – Grand Cru (red). Intense fruit concentration, with ripe tannins. Far too young – has a great future ahead. 18 pts


Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet – Grand Cru (white). A bigger yet balanced expression, stylish, subtle and long palate. High quality oak. 17.5 pts

Gevrey-Chambertin – Les Cazetiers – 1er cru (red). Serious nose gives way to a serious palate – with fruit and savoury flavours, silky mouthfeel, good balance. 17.5 pts

Mazis-Chambertin – Grand Cru (red). After the initial sulphur has blown off, this is the proverbial peacock’s tail. Aromas keep building in the glass, flavours likewise on the palate. 18.5 pts


Chablis – Grand Cru – les Clos. Citrus minerality, austere and lean. Acid levels high. Evidence of oak and malo (not atypical for Grand Cru Chablis) 17.75

Beaune – Clos des Mouches Blanc – 1er Cru (white). Depth to olour and flavour. Wet stone and lychee notes. Elegant mouthfeel. 17.5 pts

Grands Echézeaux – Grand Cru (red). Depth to aroma and palate, cherry and even soy. Again, far too young, (and in this case, a bit cold also – new bottle recently emerged from the cellar and opened ~12 deg C. Showed better when warmed.) 18 pts


Vosne-Romanée – Aux Malconsorts – 1er Cru (red). Hints of coffee on the nose (probably from oak). No lack of phenolic ripeness here – the particular mingling of fruit and tannins and acid suggest long aging potential. 18.5 pts


Latriciéres-Chambertin – Grand Cru (red). Layers of complexity, luscious and classically expressive. 18.5 pts

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen

** Chanson is not part of Les Domaines Familiaux de Tradition but is an Institute sponsor

Xavier Bizot’s Selection

3 August 2011

Xavier Bizot has an illustrious pedigree when it comes to wine. His family owns Bollinger, and his father-in-law is Brian Croser of Petaluma fame.

Xavier was at Lamont’s in Cottesloe to showcase a cross-section of the wines that he distributes in Australia. The range consists of imported wines and the wines made by Brian Croser under the Tapanappa label. This is an idiosyncratic range, but there is an obvious focus on producing stylish, refined wines from carefully selected sites.

Please note that the majority (I think all) of the wines were sealed with a cork. Also, this was not a blind tasting, so my points are only preliminary.

A special thanks to John Jens and the team at Lamont’s. Not only was the function superbly run, it delivered extraordinary value!


Domaine Marcel Deiss – Pinot Blanc – 2009 (17.5). Dry and austere on the nose, though there are obvious varietal and regional characters. Think slate and a touch of mineral. There are floral hints on the palate, but this is all about texture. Rich, round, viscous and even a touch oily. The length is a standout, aided by a touch of residual sugar to flesh out the palate. Sat well alongside some scallops.

Domaine Marcel Deiss – Premier Cru – Burg – Single Vineyard – 2003 (17-18). Aromatic, even Sauternes like aromas. Powerful fruit notes with lychees, tropical fruits and a touch of rose. The palate is very textured and viscous, without the oiliness of the pinot blanc. This is a high impact, turbocharged wine of some charm. The botrytis component turns the dial up to 11! A wine to taste on its own perhaps. The wines from Deiss focus on the vineyard perhaps more than the grapevine. They are using numerous clones of the various grapes, but also blending different varieties (13 in this case) when producing their single vineyard wines.

Tapanappa – Chardonnay – Tiers Vineyard – 2008 (18+). Tight, austere and elegant. There is creamy fruit on the nose, with lees and very fine oak highlights. Excellent palate that is expansive yet full of nervous energy. This is modern and very tight. The palate has some pineapple, melon and lemon fruit characters. Fine and elegant, with a tangy finish courtesy of the lemony acid.

Tapanappa – Chardonnay – Tiers Vineyard – 2007 (17-18). Quite a different style to the 2008. The fruit was initially very subdued, with the medium toast oak providing the dominant flavours and aromas. This really opened up in the glass displaying powerful fruit that soaked up the oak. Very powerful and complex. Most people preferred this wine, though I would rather drink the 2008.

Chateau Pierre Bise – Cabernet Franc/Merlot – Anjou Villages – Sur Schistes – 2009 (17). Floral fruit, though the structural components are never far away. Savoury, sappy, long and juicy, this is an interesting wine that has seen no oak. From the Loire.

Ceretto – Barolo DOCG – Zonchera – 2007 (18+). This is a lovely wine. Cherry and savoury notes that are fine and balanced. The palate has plenty of tar, leather and spice. The mouth-feel is tight and restrained due to the (very fine and supple) tannins. The finish is somewhat grippy right now, but the balance is spot on. The length of the finish is a feature. Give it 5 – 10 years to open up a little.

Tapanappa – Merlot – Whalebone Vineyard – 2003 (17 – 17.5). Perfumed nose redolent of violets. The palate has cedar, plum and floral notes. The tannins are still remarkably firm, though they are supple enough to make this a good drink. Needs years more to show its best.

Tapanappa – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Whalebone Vineyard – 2006 (17 – 18). I struggled to understand this wine at first as it was very closed and tight. The sweet, ripe fruit really builds and the textured finish is fine and savoury, with a souring finish. Points awarded for potential.

Tapanappa – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Whalebone Vineyard – 2004 (18+). This wine had to compete with the aromas of a superb Wagyu steak. The fruit shows chocolate, leather and spice, with tight knit oak in support. This has lovely mouth-feel and excellent length. It is supple, textured and quite delicious. A quality wine!

Francois Lumpp – Givry AOC – Pied de Clou – 2009 (17). Quite shy, with delicate fruit. This has been well made. Sympathetic winemaking allows the fruit to shine, as the oak is only secondary and the tannins are nicely polished. Good short term drinking.

Domaine du Clos de Tart – Pinot Noir – 2008 (NR). How do you point a wine that is so unique. From a single monopole vineyard, Clos du Tart is the name of the winery, the vineyard AND the appellation. Created in the 12th century, the vineyard has only had three owners in its history. Destined to live for many years, this is hard to appraise now as the wine is very closed… Herbal, savoury and a touch stalky, this is tight, focused and very long. Spicy notes (clove and cinnamon) dominate the palate. The tannins impart a talcum powder like effect on the finish.

Chateau Pierre Bise – Chenin Blanc – Coteaux du Layon – Rouannieres – 2009 (17.7+). Fresh and vibrant nose with floral soap/talc aromas. The palate is intensely sweet and concentrated. The palate is viscous, rich and oily, with ground almond and cashew nut textural components. There is 220grams/litre of residual sugar, though the refreshing acidity prevents this from getting too cloying in the mouth. Delicious.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Reviewed: 25 July 2011

A strong line up of chardonnay and pinot noir has resulted in a number of worthwhile wines. The highlight for me was the Yerring Station pinot, a wine that is full of poise. At $38 it is not cheap, but it is worth a try. (Dan Murphy have it online for $32).

The wines from Robert Oatley are also worth commenting on. Both displayed generosity to the quality fruit and skilled winemaking. These are wines that can be consumed in the short term with pleasure. At around $25, they represent value.


Fraser Gallop – Chardonnay – Wilyabrup – 2010 (18). Forward, floral fruit with a hint of citrus and melon. This is a tighter style compared to the Oatley. It is long and refined, with a drying finish. Quality fruit and oak, with serious length. Avoid drinking now as this needs 3 – 5 years to show its best.

Robert Oatley – Chardonnay – Craigmoor AC1 Vineyard – 2009 (17.8). Lovely lemony fruit with subtle barrel ferment and lees effects. Creamy and seductive, the palate matches the nose, with flint and minerals to the fore on the (very long) finish. The charry oak is a touch dominant, but should settle.

Windows Estate – Chardonnay – Single Vineyard – 2010 (17.5). Very creamy, with well integrated winemaking inputs. Opens with peach and pineapple fruit, with a touch of mineral and curry leaf to add interest. The quality fruit has real length of flavour. Needs time to show its best. (Another really smart wine from this producer).

Devils Lair – Chardonnay – Fifth Leg – Crisp – 2010 (16.8). Floral nose with tropical fruits. Zesty and racy palate that hints at its chardonnay origins, but in a fresh and vibrant package. An excellent alternative to sauvignon blanc.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2010 (18). More angular and precise nose. Beautifully weighted fruit that is more to do with sappy/savoury notes than bright fruit. The palate has excellent structure and mouth-feel, while the tannins are fine. Needs a few years to hit its straps, as this blossomed after sitting on the tasting bench for a couple of days. A very smart wine.

Robert Oatley – Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula – 2010 (17.6). Succulent, sweet and juicy fruit. This is at the ripe end of cherry, hinting at plum. There is also some tar, combined with earthy notes. The palate has more of the same in a soft and approachable style. Silky tannins and a touch of oak make for good early drinking. Good buying if you see it around $25.

Chard Farm – Pinot Noir – River Run – 2008 (17.5). Cherry fruit that is tight and focused. A complex wine. The fruit on the palate has excellent depth and balance. There is a slight astringency running through the palate and the tannins are fine and the oak supple. This is a powerful wine that has yet to reveal itself fully. Interestingly, this was preferred to its more expensive siblings in this tasting.