Monday, December 13, 2004

Barossa - December 13
Kellermeister/Trevor Jones
Sunday didn’t slow us down at all and so we arrived early at Kellermeister Wines, so early they were still working on opening up the tasting room. We admired the vineyards in the valley from their lawn while we waited. Being early does create problems, like not getting the actual tasting staff, but someone whose level of perfume says that she just wasn’t expecting to be doing this today. But she was very friendly, knowledgeable, and very ready to open a new bottle if she thought an already open one was not showing well. Kellermeister makes a lot of different types of wines. And being the first winery of the day we tried most of them. Some, like Sable and Pink Mink, most folks probably don’t want to own up to tasting and so I don’t have any notes for them! The 2003 Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay was light straw in color, very open with melon and floral notes. Not in the class of the 2002, it is still a very well balanced wine with wonderful freshness and great mouthfeel. (2, 2, 4.0, 10.1 = 18.1/20). The 2001 Vintage Blue Moon Chardonnay was similar in color but with obvious toasted oak and lacking the fruit flavors of the Virgin Chardonnay. (2, 2, 3.6, 9.8 = 17.4/20). The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon was a dense cherry red with a pink edge. It gave leather and caramel aromas, ripe fruit on the palate and a solid tannic finish. (2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20). The 1999 Black Sash Shiraz was cherry red and very similar to the Cabernet with a definite caramel flavor and ripe fruit but not a typical shiraz. Well balanced it also finished with solid backbone of tannins. (2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20).

Well OK, I confess someone did buy a bottle of Sable. But it wasn’t me!

Dutschke Wines
In Lyndoch there is a road called God’s Hill. Just off that road is a new tin shed where the ever affable Wayne Dutschke will let you taste wines that have a true sense of place. When we arrived Wayne was busy testing out a new batch of port-infused coffee beans, but more on that later. After my brother John, who had organized the tasting with Wayne, made our introductions we made our way to the new shed and the wines. First up was the 2004 Ivy Blondina. Made from White Muscat, its almost clear in color with wonderful sweet floral aromatics and a spicy, lusciousness on the palate (2, 2, 4.2, 10.1 = 18.3/20; 15% alcohol). For the red wines Wayne pulled out, and I kid you not, the biggest bowled glasses I have ever tasted wine from. I was seriously concerned that once my nose went into one of these things it would have a hard time finding its way out again, but did they show the wines beautifully! The 2002 St Jakobi Shiraz was a dark cherry, and chocolate just exploded out of that glass! The wine had big rich blackberry flavors, but with a soft and elegant entry and wonderful balance. You didn’t have to wait around for the wine to hit your palate in bits and pieces; it was seamless, wonderfully integrated, with a lengthy finish (2, 2, 4.3, 10.5 = 18.8; 15% alcohol). The 2002 Willow Bend, a blend of Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, was excellent but not in same league. It gave red fruits and vanilla and had good mouth feel and was well balanced with good drying tannins holding the finish. (2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9). The next wine, the 2002 Oscar Semmler Shiraz, was one of the best wines tasted all week. This wine is bottled from the best barrels of the shiraz vintage. Very dense cherry red, it also gave off a strong initial chocolate aroma that became a rich blackberry. Similar to the St Jakobi, the Oscar Semmler covered the palate with just a bit more of that wonderful, seamless concentration of flavor and richness. My hand written notes include “long elegant finish” with the long heavily underlined! (2, 2, 4.4, 10.6 = 19.0) One for the Classic Wines section of the Tasting Notes eBlog.

Wayne then took us through a tasting from some of his barrels. This included the 2004 Shiraz. It takes nine days to pick across the vineyard block, going from east to west. Material from the eastern part of the block, in French oak, was heavily influenced by the toast level of the barrel, while material from the middle of the block, also in French oak had much less tannin and very nice fruit. The barrel containing material from the west of the block had an unmistakable chocolate character. Also tasted from barrel were some fortified wines including the base material for Muscat which looked for the world like motor oil, the 2003 Muscat blend (rich and loaded with raisin and toffee), fortified chardonnay stock for Tawny Port, 22 year old Tawny, Tokay base (that smelled like fish oil, as it should), the 2003 Tokay blend (less fishy and a little more nutty). However the most interesting barrel sample was the 2003 Fortified Shiraz. Almost black, it had a strong blackberry jam character and reminded me of a young vintage port. But it was like velvet on the palate with the neutral alcohol spirit not intruding at all. Extremely well balanced, it had a wonderfully long finish. This wine will be extremely limited in availability. Possibly each member of Dutschke Wines mailing list will only be allowed one bottle. I’d suggest you contact Wayne ASAP about getting on that mailing list!

Oh, and the port-infused coffee. Well it is still in the experimental stage, but it was an interesting way to finish off a wonderful morning of tasting. In appreciation John invited Wayne to join us for lunch at 1812 in Tanunda, and there are no prizes for guessing where the wines came from for lunch. Thanks Wayne!

Rockford Wines
With John being a member of the Stonewallers we were ushered into the Stonewall Cellar to taste in relative seclusion away from the usual throng that gathers at Rockford. Well OK, there were just one or two other cars there when we pulled up. Everywhere you look at Rockford there are stone walls. Its all very quaint, and nowhere more so than the Stonewall Cellar. I’m sure in the winter the fireplace is a great attraction, but when was it last cleaned out? The whole room just reeks of smoke. The only way to avoid its influence was to stick your nose deep into your tasting glass. And leave it there! The 2001 Eden valley Rhine Riesling was a light straw and had a slight kerosene aroma. Light to medium bodied, a soft mouthfeel and good crisp acidity. (2, 2, 3.8. 9.9 = 17.7/20). The 2001 Wood Aged Semillion was straw yellow with bright, fresh aromas of lemon/citrus. It showed good mouthfeel, acidity that carried across the palate and flavors that carried the finish. (2, 2, 3.8, 10.0 = 17.8/20). The 2004 White Frontignac was almost clear very open floral and spice aromas, good mouthfeel and a lingering, luscious finish. (2,2, 4.0, 9.8 = 17.8/20). The 2002 Rifle Range Cabernet Sauvignon was cherry red with the wintergreen mint aroma of young Cabernet. Medium weight and well structured with clean acid on the finish. My notes say “beautiful CS character” and I bet I was trying to avoid being influenced by all that smoke! (2, 2, 4.1, 10.2 = 18.3/20). The 2002 Basket Press Shiraz was dense cherry red with blackberry and vanilla notes and rich, ripe fruit. Medium weight and well structured it was a just a little hard at the finish. Its really a baby and needs time. (2, 2, 4.0, 9.8 = 17.8/20). The 1998 Shiraz VP was dark cherry red. Very open with a big blackberry note and very evident alcohol. Medium to full bodied and well balanced, it has some sweetness on the palate and a clean grip to the finish. The alcohol used is Brandy spirit. (2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20). It was an interesting tasting with Ian Bickford who also provided pointers to some of the better eateries in the area and a very interesting tour of what can only be called the antiquated but clearly effective wine making hardware used at Rockford.

My experience with Glaetzer wines was nil until we rolled up to their cellar door. And the experience started badly when the Pinot Noir bubbles we were served up were corked. It was one of those will we or won’t we moments. And in the end we just couldn’t put the young lady behind the counter through the assault on the wine she was serving. Who knows she may have taken it well. But had she tried the wine? Was she even going to know what corked meant? The day was winding down and we only had one more winery to do. “Let’s just see what the reds are like, and go.” The 2003 Wallace (85% Shiraz/15% Grenache) was cherry red with a pleasant minty nose but big tannins and evident alcohol (2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 14,5% alcohol). The 2001 Bishop Shiraz was dense cherry red with notes of caramel and leather. Medium weight, it was well balanced with a clean acid finish. (2, 2, 4.0, 9.9 = 17.9/20). The 2001 Glaetzer Shiraz was cherry red with aromas of very ripe fruit. Another well balanced wine that finished with clean acidity. (2, 2, 3.7, 9.8 = 17.5/20). Maybe it was that first wine, but I left Glaetzer feeling that I had expected better quality than what we had been offered.

Turkey Flat Vineyards
Some of the oldest shiraz vines in the Barossa are just outside of Tanunda. Actually the advertising says some of the oldest in the world, and I won’t argue with that. The 2002 Shiraz was not available for tasting, but my notes on both the 375 and 750 ml can be found here. The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon was cherry red and had the unmistakable wintergreen mint aroma of a young Cabernet; no eucalyptus here. Medium weight and very well balanced it finished with a solid display of tannins. (2, 2, 4.1, 10.2 =18.3/20, 14.0% alcohol). In comparison the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon had a softer, more subtle bouquet of leather and earth. A well structured wine with a solid backbone of tannins but greater acidity carrying the lengthy finish. (2, 2, 3.8, 10.2 = 18.0/20). Seems they make more than just excellent shiraz at Turkey Flat

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