Reviewed 18 June 2011
The chardonnay bracket was one of the strongest that the panel can remember. The semillon and SB wines were also pretty smart. All in all, one of the more memorable tastings with a higher than usual success rate.
Highlights for me were the Mt Horricks semillon and many of the chardonnays. If I had to pick one, it would be the Brookland Valley. Perhaps this is not quite as great as the Leeuwin, Heytsebury and Xanadu, but it is a sheer joy to drink now and over the next five years.
Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2008 (18/18.7). Remarkably similar to a Sauzet Puligny Montrachet that I was lucky enough to drink last weekend. Very restrained and tight, though the acid is exhilarating. Hints of stonefruit to what is a smart wine. Lots of minerals and textural components to close, including some very fine oak tannins. After one day, this started to get some flesh on the mid palate. After two, it showed a treat. As with all Leeuwin Estate chardonnays, this will age well. Indeed, this wine demands to be cellared for at least 5 – 10 years to even approach its peak.
Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Heytsebury – 2009. (18 – 18.5). Mineral, slate and a touch of match strike. Curry leaf, vanillin oak and creamy texture on the palate. A wine that has had all the treatment (barrel Ferment, lees stirring, oak aging, malo-lactic fermentation). Powerful and complex, this is a wine with great length. The powerful fruit makes this a great drink now or over the next 5 years.
Brookland Valley – Chardonnay – 2009 (18.3). A touch more nervous energy in this wine. Superb quality fruit and excellent wine-making have combined to make a wine of finesse and elegance. The fruit has intensity and power, but this is held in check by the tight knit oak and pineapple acidity. A seamless palate with tremendous length. This received extra marks for being an excellent drink!
Xanadu – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2010 (18+). Closest in style to the Leeuwin Estate. Curry leaf, flint and mineral notes on the nose with pineapple undertones. The palate is lovely, with intense fruit, seamless oak and a silky palate. The balance here is the key. There is an undercurrent of stonefruit on a wine that is complex and well worked. Needs 5 years to show its best.
Clairault – Chardonnay – Estate – 2010 (18). A superb nose that is complex, yet full of life. Creamy, peachy fruit, with just a hint of curry leaf that signals quality. Lemony oak dominates the fruit on the palate, but this is a very tight and fresh wine. Look for grapefruit and pineapple with citrus acid to close. Give it a few years to watch it blossom as this became quite expressive as it opened.
Clairault – Chardonnay – 2010 (17.5). Restrained and dumb at present. A good wine, with no rough edges, just lacks the excitement of the Estate. Good length and quality fruit. Light, fresh and elegant, with granny smith texture on a very long palate. A well made wine that is tight and lean in a contemporary style.
Forester – Chardonnay – 2010 (17.7). Closed and tight, yet there is no questioning the quality of this wine. Lemony fruit with hints of sherbet and tropical fruit. The oak is subtle and adds finesse to the close. Good drinking without being over the top, this wine held its own in a big bracket!
Mount Horricks – Semillon – 2010 (17.7). Creamy and quite delicious. Honey, vanilla and lemony fruit, with a hint of crème caramel. On the palate, this is a powerful wine that has been given royal treatment (barrel Ferment, lees stirring, oak aging). Creamy and textured, with lovely lemony fruit that runs to the end of the palate.
Carpe Diem – Sauvignon Blanc – Schiaffo – 2010 (17). A very interesting wine that is not your typical Margaret River SB. More golden in colour, this has lanolin and vanillin oak notes to open. Lemony and tight, the palate is near seamless. Slight char to the oak is apparent on the finish. A quality wine that needs a year or two to settle down. Try instead of chardonnay.
Stella Bella – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – 2010 (17). Quite pungent fruit on the nose reflecting the cooler southern end of the Margaret River region. Lychee, passionfruit, lantana and tropical notes on the nose. Plenty of acid on the palate with good length and intensity. Smart.
Willow Bridge – Sauvignon Blanc – Fume – 2010 (17+). As the name suggests, made in a different style to most Australian SBs. This has seen 8 months in oak. Complex nose and palate that has creamy lees characters and a touch of toast from the oak. Has a passing resemblance to White Bordeaux. An interesting wine that is worth trying.
Drakesbrook – Sauvignon Blanc – 2010 (16.8). A touch more creamy than some, which is suggestive of some lees contact. (None mentioned on the label). The palate is bright, grassy and zesty, with good mouth-feel and length. An approachable wine that is good current drinking.
Leeuwin Estate – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Siblings – 2010 (16.8). A fairly mainstream example of this blend. Starts of quite closed, but develops grassy/tropical notes with air. Lemon brullee on the palate. Very tight and a touch austere right now, this is a wine that could do with a year in bottle to settle down. Not overly complex, but nice zesty lemon fruit, good length and refreshing acidity.