South Australian Wines
Although Australian wine makes up only four per cent of total global wine production, the country is the fourth largest wine exporter in the world.
Within Australia itself, South Australia accounts for more than half of the country’s total wine output. Its geographical location is highly beneficial to winemaking — from cool-climate Riesling to big, bold Shiraz, the wines of South Australia are virtually unmistakeable on the international wine arena.
Apart from commercially-driven, mass-produced nondescript stuff that attempt to pass off as alcoholic grape juice, many of the country’s most famous wines are grown and made in South Australia. Producers from Jacob’s Creek to Yalumba and from Wolf Blass to Penfolds call this region home. From this varied landscape, they have more than sufficiently demonstrated, in about the span of a couple of decades, their aptitude in crafting wines that now hold their own against international big brands that have otherwise owned a majority of the market share since wine was exported to Asia.
There are 16 wine regions in South Australia, although oftentimes two or more wine regions are grouped together. Briefly: Adelaide is home to exceptionally popular wineries like Shaw & Smith and Penfolds, whose ultra premium label Grange often ranks as one of the most expensive wines in the whole of the country; Barossa is the heartland of outstanding producers like Henschke and Wolf Blass, the latter of whom is a true pioneer and visionary especially during the days when the Australian wine industry was still in its infancy; the Clare Valley and Eden Valley are famous for cool-climate varieties like Rieslings with pronounced acidity and minerality; the Fleurieu zone, which encompass regions such as McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Kangaroo Island and Southern Fleurieu, has a warm and dry Mediterranean climate. Other regions such as Coonawarra and Padthaway along the Limestone Coast enjoy a maritime climate, and varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon perform exceedingly well on the terra rossa soil here.
Our South Australian grand wine tasting has uncovered some surprises, and affirmed some convictions of a certain level of quality.
***** - Absolutely brilliant!
**** - Outstanding quality; worth every cent
*** - Enjoyable
** - Good, but could be better
* - Average with no major faults or complaints
From $21 to $40
Oxford Landing Estates Cabernet Shiraz 2010
Monopole $27.80 ***
Fresh, restrained and elegant with minty notes, subtle spice, almond and red fruit. Gentle and ripe with good balance, although quite one-dimensional in its expression.
Oxford Landing Estates Chardonnay 2011
Monopole $27.80 ***
Complex with primary and secondary aromas coming through, and typical Chardonnay characters. Notes of apricot and apple as well. Nice honeyed note with good flavour. Clean and fine.
Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2010
Monopole $32.50 ****
Pleasantly ripe; luscious, clean and pure with characters of mint and blackcurrant on the nose and palate. Juicy and ripe; needs time to mellow.
Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2011
Monopole $32.50 ***
Lightly spicy scent with peach and melon. Quite subtle on the palate with minerals and white peach characters. A little simplistic, but a good wine nevertheless.
From $41 to $60
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2008
Monopole $41 ***
Aromatic nose with floral aromas and gentle spice with a slight touch of smokiness. Reminiscent of fruit basket on the palate, with a round, soft texture, but some bitterness on the finish.
Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
SUTL $41 ***
Blackberry, bramble fruit compote, white pepper, clove and oyster sauce on the nose. Pleasant ripeness, juicy and ripe, with some sweet spice on the palate.
Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Monopole $42.80 ****
Floral notes with good fruit intensity. Gentle and mild with a nice balance of acidity and adequate freshness, and a slightly bitter note on an opulent, lengthy finish.
Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Monopole $43 ***
Classic, ripe juicy nose with dense black fruit, mint, eucalyptus and berry. Mouth-watering and lush with lively, dusty tannins, medium-plus acidity and velvety texture. Loads of spice with a warm finish.
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2011
Monopole $43 ***
Slightly pungent with grapefruit peel, lemon, lime, peach and tropical fruit on the nose. Nice and pleasant, but quite one-dimensional in its expression and short on the finish.
Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2006
Monopole $44.60 ***
Toasty and smoky with some spice and lemon zest on the nose. Intense, persistent and youthful. The oak is a little dominant, with ripe tropical notes on the palate. Nice, good lengthy finish.
Hardys Oomoo Chardonnay 2007
Auric Pacific $45.70 ***
Restrained nose with some curry spice. The palate is subtle with good intensity. The finish is slightly bitter and a little hot, but certainly a good representation of a restrained style of New World Chardonnay.
Taylors Estate Chardonnay 2009
Auric Pacific $47.10 ***
Pleasantly ripe, maybe even a little overripe, with notes of pungent spice. Good intensity with nice balance overall, with a delicate, and subtle palate.
Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz 2009
Monopole $48 ***
Some strawberry and candied fruit aromas. Made in a bold style with lactic character of cheese. Structured with good intensity; nice balance with a firm, dry, bitter finish, with some characters of volatile acidity.
Henschke Tilly’s Vineyard Semillon, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Monopole $48 ***
Restrained, delicate nose, with subtle aromas of florals, citrus, apple and lemon. The palate has a mineral edge, with refreshing, mouth-filling acidity and a round finish. Delicate intensity and structure.
Yalumba The Strapper Grenache, Shiraz & Mataro 2010
Red fruits, violets, florals, cassis, vanilla and plenty of spice on the nose. Some stemmy and stalky scents too, which add character. Dense with good fruit on the palate, but a little hot. Good length on the finish.
Bleasdale Frank Potts 2009
SUTL $52 ***
Red fruit, cloves, pepper, vanilla and smoke on the nose and palate. Nice oak influence with good acidity, but a little hot. An excellent choice of wine for a wine bar.
Parker Favourite Son Cabernet Merlot 2007
Top Wines $52 ***
Eucalyptus, mint, raspberry, cassis and spice on the nose. Well-balanced and ripe. The tannins are a little dusty and grippy, and the acidity seems a little disjointed.
Parker Favourite Son Shiraz 2007
Top Wines $52 ***
Pencil lead and graphite notes, with sweet spice, toasty notes and blackcurrant on the nose. Savoury with a milky lactic character, with firm tannins and good focus on the palate.
Angove Clare Valley Riesling 2010
Top Wines $54 ***
Fresh floral, stone fruit and passionfruit aromas on the nose. A well-made wine, very pleasant with excellent flavour intensity, but needs just a bit more acidity.
Rumball SB19 Sparkling Shiraz NV
Top Wines $56 ***
Pronounced characters of fruit, cinnamon and fruitcake on the nose and palate. Good acidity and finish, with lots of muskiness. Reminiscent of a Christmas drink.
Tatachilla Merlot 2009
Auric Pacific $57.20 ***
Fresh fruit and cassis on the peppery and slightly spicy nose. Nicely integrated oak with ripe, nice tannins. Good balance and texture; a well-made wine.
Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay 2010
Monopole $59 ***
Restrained on the nose with characters of almond, peach and honey and some white blossoms. Mild, gentle and clean, but lacks a bit of acidity. Otherwise, extremely enjoyable with a long finish.
Earthworks Shiraz 2009
Monopole $59 ***
Perfumy nose with plenty of mint, spice and plummy fruit. Clean and simple with some mint and red fruit on the palate, and a little floral too. Sharp intensity, with a slight hint of volatile acidity.
Angove Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Top Wines $60 ***
Cassis, almond and meat aromas. Ripe black fruit and cassis flavours, with a good structure and gentle velvety tannins. Simple and well-crafted.
Angove Shiraz 2005
Top Wines $60 ***
Lavender and spice on the nose. Good volume and grip on the entry with fresh acidity. The palate is dominated by spice with a touch of saline mineral quality, finishing with dark chocolate and cola sweetness.
From $61 to $80
Katnook Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Crystal Wines $61 ***
Quite an attractive nose with clean passionfruit and rose petal notes. There’s a tiny spritz on the palate, with green apple undertones. Good, soft lemony acidity, tightly woven, linear and precise.
John Duval Plexus Shiraz, Grenache & Mourvedre 2008
Monopole $68 ***
Framboise, raspberry, polished brassy notes, some mint and interesting polished rice characters. Good entry, pronounced acidity, with loads of spice and elegant, pleasant fruit on the palate. Complex, soft and gentle.
Henschke Henry’s Seven 2009
Monopole $69 ***
Polished metal and saline character, with a firm structure, good acidity and balance. Cinnamon and cloves on the palate with a mineral, savoury finish.
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Crystal Wines $74 ***
Pretty and feminine with violets, sweet spice, cassis and vanilla. Ripe black fruits on the palate with tightly woven tannins and balanced acidity; a food-friendly wine.
Elderton Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Beam Global Asia $76 ***
Nose of capsicum, marmite, tobacco and smoke. A little phenolic and short on the finish, but the palate has a nice sweet spice quality and savoury development. Balanced acidity but a little hot.
Elderton Estate Merlot 2010
Beam Global Asia $76 ****
Characters of tea box, black tea, smoke, vanilla, red apple peel and Christmas spice. Well-balanced, fresh and tight with fine-grained tannins that frame everything nicely. Juicy structure, with oak dominating the palate.
Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Beam Global Asia $76.50 ****
Sweet spice and coconut on the nose. Rich and full with a lush and round palate with undercurrents of caramel. Robust with soft tannins, good length and good balance.
Hardys Heritage Reserve Bin Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Auric Pacific $81.40 ****
Mild and gentle with characters of classic red apple peel, coffee, mint, plum and some smokiness. Slightly stemmy/stalky, tight and linear with good grip, plus a spicy and bitter finish. Pleasant nevertheless.
Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz 2006
Auric Pacific $82.80 ****
Aromas of currants and layers of fruits with coconut shavings, spicy notes, minerality and nuances of savoury, meaty soy characters. Good acidity, firm structure and luscious intensity; will show well with a big slab of steak.
Parker Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Top Wines $86 **
Sweet spice, coconut and bitter chocolate on the nose. A little stemmy and hot on the palate, and a little aggressive; like morning sun in a glass.
Elderton Ode to Lorraine 2008
Beam Global Asia $104 ***
Characters of red fruit, coffee, chocolate and smoky notes, although also a little green and stemmy. Medium length with a dense structure and tight, grippy tannins.