Tag Archives: Frankland

Ferngrove – Orchid Range – 2012 Reds

Ferngrove – Orchid Range – 2012 Reds

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

12th August 2015

In my article last year on Ferngrove, I commented that the quality of the wines continued to be very good under the new Chinese owners: https://finewineclub.com.au/2014/06/12/ferngrove-june-2014/

Fast-forward 12 months, and it’s now time to review the latest (2012) reds released under the Orchid range. I am pleased to say that the wines are as good (if not better) than 2011, with the Cabernet, in particular, showing very strongly.

Stylistically, it is important to note that Kim Horton and the team have made serious wines here. They are approachable now, but will be at their best with 5 – 10 years in the cellar. For wines of this quality, the $32 RRP seems very reasonable.

ReviewedFerngrove Majestic 2012

Ferngrove – Cabernet Sauvignon – Majestic – 2012 (18 – 18.5). Very deep smelling, with menthol, blackcurrant and lovely spice-like aromas. Dark fruits feature on the palate, complemented by texturing tannins and oak on a finish that is quite chewy. This is really closed and tight, though the length of flavours is commendable. The fruit quality is excellent, but this needs years to reach its peak. The fruit really opened up with a couple of days in the bottle. (RRP $32).

Ferngrove – Malbec – King – 2012 (17.5+). Plump, succulent fruit with licorice, spice and cedar notes. The palate is fresh, with the refined fruit giving way to tar, chocolate and spice flavours. The savoury tannins and oak add to the finish. Refined and a touch linear now, this will flesh out with a few years in the bottle. (RRP $32).

Ferngrove – Shiraz – Dragon – 2012 (18). Beautiful, elegant and almost delicate fruit on both the nose and palate. Very long, the finish is fine and near seamless. With an almost Burgundian structure, this will fill out and build across the palate with time in the bottle. With plenty of air, this develops red fruits and licorice, with savoury plum notes. Will soften in time. (RRP $32).


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

Sittella Winery

New meets Old

May 2015

Sittella, situated in the Swan Valley on the outskirts of Perth, is owned and run by the Berns family. The winery was built in 1997, with the cellar door and restaurant opening the following year.

Fruit is primarily sourced from the family’s vineyards in the Swan Valley and Margaret River, supplemented by purchased fruit from these regions as well as Frankland.

Senior winemaker Colby Quirk is ably assisted by the next generation of the Berns family – Yuri. The focus here is clearly on quality. 40% of production is sparkling wine, with the sparkling Chenin Blanc being the winery’s largest volume wine.

The quality focus is not only in the vineyard, but also in the winery. The sparkling wines are made in the traditional method (secondary fermentation in bottle), and are fairly dry in style (all under 10gm/l residual sugar). All fermentation tanks are refrigerated and the winery has gyro-pallets installed to assist with the riddling of the sparkling wines prior to disgorgement (they are one of only a few facilities in WA that are able to produce quality sparkling wines in quantity).

Whilst the focus is on the sparkling wines, it is the Chardonnays that shone in this tasting. That said, their yet to be released Coffee Rock Shiraz from 2013 was the most interesting wine that I tried. Whilst different in style to Faber’s Shiraz for example, it is an excellent illustration of what the Swan Valley can do with this most versatile variety.


Sittella – Chenin Blanc – NV (NR). Made entirely from Swan Valley fruit, even the entry level offering has low dosage (less than 10g/l of residual sugar) and is made in the traditional method. It is the vibrant, floral fruit that is the feature here. Great Sunday afternoon wine. (RRP $24).

Sittella – Chardonnay – Blanc de Blanc – NV (17-17.5). Refined and elegant nose, with white peach and nectarine. The palate is dry and restrained, with the taut chardonnay fruit coming to the fore, with lemon-like acidity to close. Long and fine, this is a serious effort. Fruit from Pemberton. (RRP $29).

Sittella – Chardonnay – Reserve – Wilyabrup – 2014 (18+). Melon, peach and grapefruit on the nose, with supple oak. Powerful, complex and worked, yet refined and with a degree of restraint on the finish. This is youthful and fresh, with lemony acid to close. Long and supple, but will be even better in a year or two. Not yet released.

Sittella – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2013 (18). Tighter and more refined than the 2014, but still with high quality fruit apparent. A modern iteration of Chardonnay, this needs a few years to open up and build. With air; flint, minerals, spice notes evolve. The taut oak is apparent, but in no way overt. The textural components build and are a highlight. Value for money. (RRP $29).

Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Margaret River – 2011 (17.2). Decent concentration of fruit here, though it is in the cooler spectrum, with mint and herbal notes. The palate is chewy and dense, with fine tannins from the fruit and oak. The textured finish is a treat. Remarkably approachable now, but will live for years. (Available for under $12 from the cellar door!)

Sittella – Shiraz/Grenache/Tempranillo – 2014 (17.3). Fleshy, ripe and delicious, I like this. Decent fruit quality in a riper style. Long and mouth-filling, what this lacks in elegance, it makes up for in richness. Good balance to close. (RRP $18).

Sittella – Shiraz – Coffee Rock – 2013 (18). Chocolate, mint, spice and aniseed all vie for attention on the nose. The palate is balanced, textured, refined and very long. The tannins are polished and supple. Succulent fruit, but will live for years, courtesy of the acid balance. Good now, but will be even better in a few years. This comes from old vines, grown in coffee rock in the Swan Valley. Despite being 15.5% alc, this shows no signs of being hot in the mouth.

Shiraz – New Release

Reviewed 7th August 2013

This tasting saw the new releases from Cherubino and Sandalford, and neither disappointed.

The highlights for the tasting were two wines from Cherubino (Ad Hoc and Laissez Faire) and the pair from Angoves.


Cherubino – Shiraz – Laissez Faire – 2012 (18 – 18.5).  Lovely peppery fruit here on both the nose and palate that is very attractive.  Initially, the nose is closed and tight, while the palate is restrained, yet silky and supple.  Superb fruit and winemaking on show, though this wine is only hinting at potential now.  Over a couple of days, this wine really blossomed to show beautiful fruit that is very hard to resist.  This is compelling drinking at $50.

Sandalford – Shiraz – Prendiville – 2011 (18 – 18.5).  Wow!  This is a special wine, with fantastic, cool climate shiraz that has been brilliantly handled.  Starts off refined, fine and elegant, yet there is an underlying intensity to the fruit that is disarming.  Chewy and dense, the quality French oak adds texture to the mouth-feel rather than overt flavours.  Very long, but needs time.

The Yard – Shiraz – Acacia Vineyard – 2011 (18+).  Closed, tight, dense and powerful.  Superb wine that needs years to open up and let the quality fruit sing.  The finish is drier than the Sahara desert, with tannins that completely close down the fruit.  With air this developed chocolate, plum, spice and cedar, with hints of licorice and pepper.  Demands patience, but this is a worthwhile addition to the cellar.

The Yard – Shiraz – Riversdale Vineyard – Frankland River – 2011 (17.8+).  More obvious fruit here, though this is a good thing.  Rich and ripe, with a core of chocolate running through the palate.  The tannins are very fine, though plentiful.  Smart wine now, or in 10 years.  This wine took two to three days on the tasting bench to hit its straps, but was a very rewarding drink.

Sandalford – Shiraz – Estate Reserve – 2010 (17.5 – 18).  Serious fruit on the nose, though this is the first wine where the vanilla/coconut characters from the oak sit over the fruit.  This is not a bad thing, it is just that it will need a couple of years for the oak to settle into the fruit.  Firm and drying, though the finish is quite silky.

Ad Hoc – Shiraz – Middle of Everywhere – 2012 (17.5+).  The absolute bargain in the Cherubino shiraz line-up, and a delicious wine to boot.  Opens with peppery, bright fruit that has plum, cinnamon and spicy notes.  The palate is long and fleshy, with enough structure to guarantee aging.  The finish is elegant and mouth-filling, making for a great drink now or in 10 years.

Angove – Shiraz – Vineyard Select – 2012 (17.7).  Brilliant fruit, lovely structure, sympathetic oak. This is long and dense with drying tannins.  Will reward short term cellaring.  How this can be sold for only $15 dollars is beyond me!

Angove – Shiraz/ Cabernet – Organic – 2012 (17.2).  Nice blend of ripe, peppery fruit and more complex, earthy aromas.  This follows through on the palate, with bright cherry fruit, white pepper and dense, plum flavours.  Softer tannins make this an easy wine to enjoy now with a meal, or to cellar for a few years for added complexity.  Organic or not, this is a good drink and a real bargain.

Sandalford – Shiraz – Margaret River – 2011 (16.9).  Lovely ripe fruit with smart oak.  Refined, though this is a more obvious wine.  The alcohol adds depth to the mouth-feel.  Chewy, dense and textured, this is a good mid-week wine that could also be aged for a few years.