Tasting the wines of McLaren Vale

These notes accompany a in-depth feature on McLaren Vale. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report from McLaren Vale, Australia.


Rosemount Estate

Rosemount Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Very nice passionfruit nose, with a touch of nettle and hints of tropical fruit. Palate is slightly harsh, with acidity a little prominent, but there is good punch and verve.

Rosemount Show Reserve Shiraz McLaren Vale 2003
Lovely big depth of plummy, chocolate-laced fruit on the nose. There’s a touch of curranty quality, but plenty of cherry and plum. The palate has a softness and velvety texture, with ripe tannins and more of the chocolaty backing.

Rosemount Show Reserve Shiraz McLaren Vale 2004
About to be bottled. Much brighter, fresher nose, with a more elegant plum pie character. Very nice fruit here. On the palate a lot more brightness and life about this wine, with an edge of lean, savoury character though that chocolate fills in.

Rosemount GSM McLaren Vale 2004
48% Grenache, 47% Shiraz, 5% Mataro. Fragrant, floral-edged more esoteric fruit. Nice nutty edge, some luscious chocolate coming through. On the palate lots of jammy, ripe, very nice, plush fruit, quiet raspberry and strawberry and cream character.

Rosemount GSM McLaren Vale 2005
47% Grenache, 46% Shiraz, 7% Mataro. Slightly nutty character on the nose, with light raspberry aromas. Very fine. There is quite a fleshy character o the palate, this has a slippery, smooth elegant fruity character, but the plummy depth and fleshy fruit comes through, and lots of spice in to the finish.

Rosemount Balmoral Shiraz 2004
Big, sweet, voluptuous nose, with meaty tones, dark, ripe red fruits, with a little floral lift (flowers wrapped in Proscuttio). Beautiful fruit on the palate, with a seamless richness, but really nice acidity and balance, with a stripe of savoury, spicy tannins.

Rosemount Balmoral Shiraz 2005
All components of Balmoral are 100% McLaren Vale fruit, since 2002. made by Andrew. Block 2 and 7 McLaren Vale Shiraz, with a bit of barrel ferment. Lots of fragrant, floral notes, with, a slightly animal character. Very attractive. A little sulphide character, adding to a pleasant funk. A more meaty character, with lots of plum and mocha. Lots of richness and dark, brooding qualities. Beautiful stuff.

Rosemount Rosemount Traditional 2004
Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot. Rich, blackcurrant and mocha nose, with a touch of mint, and a lovely soft sheen of roundness. Half of the Cab component here goes into Bin 707. The palate has a lovely rounded, soft, ripe, juicy fruit. Good length and persists through the finish. Lovely.

Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz 2005
70% or so is made at this facility. Very pure, ripe, raspberry fruit. Palate drinks well – very ripe, a touch too sweet (5gm RS). But a good, solid commercial wine.

Rosemount Diamond Label Merlot 2005
Big, sweet, generous fruit, plenty of cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Nice chewy chocolaty mid-palate. Quite chunky.

Rosemount Diamond Cellars Grenache Shiraz 2005
Quite packed with flavour, with lots of juiciness and fine, chunky fruit.

Rosemount Diamond Label Rosé 2006
Lovely bright, focused, strawberry fruit, with soft creamy fruit and natural generous sweetness. Very nice fruit on the palate, with a dry finish.

Rosemount Diamond Label Sangiovese 2004
This has a lot of dark, mocha and clove notes, and very solid fruit – not the cherry brightness that you’d want, and a bit too big and full.

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Battle of Bosworth

Battle of Bosworth Chardonnay Viognier 2006
The Viognier is picked ripe then barrel fermented, Chardonnay is mostly barrel fermented and picked quite early. Lovely fragrant, citrussy lemon, with a really light, crisp profile, plenty of light and the oak just adds a sheen of creamy quality. Beautiful, fragrant wine.

Battle of Bosworth Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
A bit of the Amarone Cab, a tiny bit of Shiraz. Nice touch of leafiness, then plum and thick blackurranty fruit. Good varietal character. The palate has a broad juicy stripe of blackcurrant, with fine, chewy tannic quality and lovely balance. Good fruit and lovely balance.

Battle of Bosworth Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Brighter, purer, blackcuranty fruit lively palate with ripe, fine, very pure tannins.

Battle of Bosworth Shiraz 2005
A little touch bottle shocked. The fruit is lovely, with a very nice, pure fruit quality, with a touch of raspberry, and cedar and plenty of fine, juicy, fruit. About 40% oaked, 60/40 split of US and French oak, but all oak French coopered.

Battle of Bosworth Shiraz 2004
Very pure, creamy raspberry fruit and a nice fragrant oak, with lovely finesse and lots of silky, fine tannin. Spice and fine, balanced finish.

Battle of Bosworth White Boar 2004
Organically vinified cordon cut, Shiraz, with 5%V Cab. Nice cherry skin, plenty of fine, dry raspberry fruit, lovely quality. 4g/l RS, lovely wine, with a chocolaty, long, persistent finish. Creamy, delicious. Cordon cut and left for two weeks or so to raisin on the vine.

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Geoff Merrill

Geoff Merrill Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Very pale colour, but lovely zippy, bright Sauvignon nose with tropical fruit and plenty of vibrant gooseberry and a hint currant leafy quality. Fine palate, with plenty of power and zip, perhaps a little too alcoholic for me, but real zest and bite in one of the better McLaren Vale Sauvignons.

Merrill McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2006
Intense, quite creamy and broad nose, with very nice fruit with a lanolin quality and plenty of lemon and hints of tropicality. Juicy, punchy palate, with masses of citrus and a broadening palate with plenty of verve and sweet mid-palate fruit, but a lovely acid balance into a long, creamy finish.

Geoff Merrill Chardonnay 2004
Nicely vegetal touches to very good, ripe fruit, with a citrus and buttery tone. Nice leesy, creamy character without too much oak. On the palate really bright fruit sweetness, with tropical, pineapple tones and good oak. Becomes quite toasty, and though the lemony acidity seems a little unknit, a very nice Chardonnay.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Chardonnay 2002
All McLaren Vale fruit in this vintage, though normally some fruit will come from Geoff’s Coonawarra vineyards too. French oak fermented and aged, almost all new. Beautiful Bourbon-barrel nose with plenty of charry, coffeeish toast but also hints of honey and leaf tea. Sumptuous palate with masses of fruit, quiet a thick texture and an orangy fruit quality with tropical notes. Oak is creamy and doesn’t dominate into a long, sweet-edged finish. Geoff Merrill Grenache Rose 2006
24 hours maceration gives a deep cherry pink colour. Nose is very fragrant and perfumed, with floral, old roses nuances and bright raspberry and creamy strawberry fruit. Plenty of creamy, mouthfilling red fruit on the palate, with a fairly soft acidity and a hint of tannic bite that makes this juicy, jammy and very delicious. Easy drinking and very nicely made.

Geoff Merrill Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre 2003
Hugely opulent plum and black coffee nose, with spices and a luscious, ripe black cherry quality. On the palate a big, densely structured, very fruity wine, with high extraction and a mouthfilling texture. Lovely plummy fruit still retains freshness, and there is life about this into a sweet-fruited finish balanced by rugged yet smooth tannins and good acidity. Decent length too.

Geoff Merrill Cabernet Shiraz 2003
Slightly leafy cabernet character is nicely judged, with a touch of raspberry giving light and shade to creamy black plum fruit. The palate has more structure and more of an edge than the Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre in this range, and a fresh, crisp finish with lovely balance. A delicious wine.

Merrill Shiraz Grenache Viognier 2004
The Viognier is a prominent component on the nose, with a touch of dried apricot and a floral note. Fine black fruit begins to emerge and dominate. On the palate lots of dried plum and cherry fruit and a dry, slightly leathery quality with spices and a peppery character. Very nice savoury oak and tannins add structure and this finishes with a nice balance of fruit, spice and acidity.

Geoff Merrill Merlot 2002
Big, ripe, plummy and slightly tomato nose, with very ripe and dense merlot showing good varietal character. Plenty of oak too. On the palate this is big, ripe and mouthfilling, but avoids being soupy thanks to quite nice peppery, spicy oak qualities and a decent structure of tannins and acidity and a roasted coffee darkness.

Geoff Merrill Shiraz 2002
This has quite an elegant oak structure, with a savoury, slightly gamy quality of fruit adding a lot of interest. There are plenty of ripe plum and black berry fruits, but that edge of bloody, ripe fruit character is attractive. On the palate this is brimming with black fruits, but there’s a lean stripe of quite steely tannin and a bite of pepper and spice, along with persistent acidity, that really gives the finish some life and bite.

Geoff Merrill Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Again a little touch of vegetal quality and leafy quality on the nose is expressive of the Cabernet, with olive and blackcurrant notes. On the palate it has a medium-bodied texture and a nicely juicy, quite ripe and sweet black fruit quality. It perhaps has a tiny lack of concentration on the mid palate, but the smooth oak tannins fill in and leave this savoury and well balanced.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
A blend of approximately 80/20 McLaren Vale and Coonawarra fruit, spending 24 months in first American, then French oak. A much more minty and eucalypt character than the regular Cabernet bottling, with ripe, very dense blackcurrant aromas with terrific purity. Lovely sophisticated oak quality and bottle age adds a cedary, savoury edge. Lovely palate too, with a flood of slightly earthy, gamy fruit that maintains that creamy blackcurrant purity, with fine, quite chocolaty tannins combining with coffeeish, svelte oak into a long, nicely balanced finish. Lovely stuff.

Geoff Merrill Reserve Shiraz 2000
29 months in American then French oak in this selection of Shiraz. It has a very complex nose with incense and lots of gamy, animal notes, as well as ripe, bloody and plummy plum fruit. The palate is savoury and full of finesse, with cedar and all sorts of gamy nuances to a solid core of fruit. Polished tannins and a lovely infill of cedary, spicy oak marry with gentle acidity into a persistent, moreish finish. Another beautiful example of restrained and intelligent winemaking.

Geoff Merrill ‘Henley’ Shiraz 2000
Bottled in a super-heavyweight bottle this is Geoff’s ultra-premium icon wine, named after Henley beach where he has fond memories of growing up with his grandfather. Only 200 dozen bottles are produced, and the selected wines are aged for 18 months in Radoux French oak. Very gamy, supple, subtle animal and bloody notes on the nose, where no one component of oak or fruit dominating. On the palate there’s a beautiful warmth of supple, toasty, plummy fruit, with a really seamless quality. The structure of the tannins is beautifully linear and harmonious, with plenty of spice, pepper and toast, but that integrated, deep, sensuous fruit and finely integrated acid just extends the finish leaving this very long and very impressive indeed. Outstanding.

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Serafino and Shingleback

Serafino Semillon Sauvignon 2006
Lovely pungent nose, with a bit of creamy, rich, skinny and buttery phenolic complexity, then a blast of juicy, clean fruit and good acidity.

Sorrento Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Adelaide hills fruit, lovely gooseberry and grassy character, with plenty of punch and verve. Very nice palate, with passionfruit and gooseberry, little falling off towards the back palate.

Goose Island Chardonnay 2006
In Asda stores as ‘McLaren on the Lake Chardonnay’. Nice melon and dry, pear and lemon fruit. Unoaked, clean, pure. Very nice wine.

Serafino Reserve Chardonnay 2005
Subtle buttery, toasty French oak, with a rich leesy character. Two pickings – greener and riper picking . Develops some Bourbon barrel richness, but beautifully clean acid and a crisp finish.

Serafino Sharktooth Chardonnay 2005
Wild ferment. Vegetal, buttery, with a really Burgundian character, and plenty of ripe, full, sweet fruit driving through to an elegantly toasty palate with very good acidity.

Sorrento Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot 2004
Cedary oak quality and a touch of green peppercorn, fine palate, a touch of earthy, gamy quality to rich blackcurrant and plummy fruit, but nice balance and length. Very elegant.

Serafino Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Very beautiful, cedary oak quality, with terrific cassis and spice notes, onto a gamy, ripe, very juicy palate with rich mid-palate mouthfeel and fruit, and a long, spicy finish. Fabulous wine (trophy winner).

Sorrento Grenache 2005
40-year-old terraced vines. Nice bright fruit, cherry flavours and a bit of meatiness emerging on the palate. Tangy and fresh, very drinkable.

Serafino Grenache 2005
A touch more oak, but a pure, mineral tone to bold, juicy fruit. More substance on the palate, with chocolate flavours emerging and nicely balanced, spicy finish.

Serafino Shiraz 2004
Big, ripe blackcurrant and blackberry nose, with a sweet, slightly raisined quality. Palate is quite fresh, with some spice and pepper filling in on the finish. Second oakier bottling, more power and fuller finish.

Serafino Sharktooth Shiraz 2004
Lovely big blackcuranty, ripe, velvety nose, with plenty of oak, but spicy and cedary, with plenty of deep, sinuous fruit. Long, very charming.

Shingleback Chardonnay 2005
Lovely toasty barrel ferment character. Very nice nutty, leesy style. Rich but succulent palate, with racy lemon fruit and some textural, toasty oak in the finish.

Shingleback Shiraz 2001
Quite meaty and savour, with nice tertiary flavours of earthy berry fruit, and still fine, liquoricy tannins with grip on the back palate.

Shingleback Shiraz 2002
Full, dark, plum and liquorice nose, with serious character. Quite full bodied and rich, with a slightly gamy quality coming through and a long, savoury finish.

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