A tasting of mid-priced Australian wines


Cranswick Estate Unwooded Semillon 1998 – £4.49
Subtle, attractive nose of sealing-wax, wool and figs. Quite full bodied and dry on the palate with restrained, savoury flavours of fig, butter and orange peel. Good food wine at a decent price.

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 1998 – £5.99 (Fine Wine stores only)
Nose is very fresh and aromatic with notes of lime and ginger. Good weight on the palate with juicy, fruity flavours and glimpses of intense, fruit-gum ripeness. Fine citrus acidity. Would keep. Very good.

Jamieson’s Run (Coonawarra) Chardonnay 1997 – £7.99
Gorgeous nose of ground ginger spice, butter and orange. Dry and very savoury with ripe apple and pear flavours and fine, natural acidity and good length. Very elegant, fresh and good.

Penny’s Hill (McLaren Vale) Chardonnay 1997 – £8.99
Big charred oak nose masks other components, but emerging hints of melon and banana. Palate is also heavily oaked and slightly astringent, with toasty flavours dominating and a long spicy finish. Good, and might benefit from a year or two in bottle.

Yarra Valley Hills Chardonnay 1997 – £8.99
Another big, almost Burgundian nose of charred oak, coffee and burnt toast. Palate has rounded, buttery mouthfeel with sweet-edged pear fruit and a tart, apple acidity bringing up the finish. There is good length, which again suggests this might mature quite nicely over a couple of years.

Wolf Blass (South Australia) President’s Selection Chardonnay 1996 – £9.99
Nicely balanced nose with Burgundian character of toasty oak, pear fruit, butter and hints of mineral complexity. Palate is really quite elegant too, though oak dominates for now, there is fine pear and apple fruit, some sweet tropical notes and lots of toasted spices in the finish. Long and very good.


Yarra Valley Hills Pinot Noir 1998 – £8.99
I recommended the ’97 vintage of this wine in my magazine column recently. The nose is quite blunt with charcoal aromas, solid cherry fruit and lemony sharpness. Very tannic palate – really quite harsh at present. Toasty oak dominates bitter-cherry fruit and spice. Components a little disjointed at the moment but might come together quite nicely – plenty of concentrated fruit beneath the tannins.

Jamieson’s Run (Coonawarra) Merlot 1997 – £7.99
Really juicy, jammy, black-cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Beautifully pure with minty intensity. Lush and sweetly fruity on the palate, with crunchy berry fruit and plump, vanilla-infused flavours. Long and delicious. Very good.

Peter Lehmann (Barossa Valley) Shiraz 1996 – £6.99
Moderately intense nose of blackberry and pepper. Quite soft and juicy on the palate before big tannins kick in. Quite round and spicy. More structured and fruit is firmer than I thought at first. Quite good, not a blockbuster style.

Peter Lehmann (Barossa Valley) “Seven Surveys” 1996 – £6.99
Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre. Powerful nose of spices, plum and mulberry. Quite dark and brooding. Plate has good plummy fruit and sweet oak, more spice and long savoury finish. Nice stuff.

Penfolds (Coonawarra) Bin 128 Shiraz 1996 – £9.49
Quite charcoaly at first and vaguely medicinal. Very peppery then lots of very sweet, ripe cherry and damson fruit. A nice herbal edge adds interest and a peppery quality shows up in the finish. This is quite tight at the moment with firm tannins and raw acidity, but the components are very good. Give it 3 – 5 years and I’d guess it would be excellent.

d’Arenberg (McLaren Vale) “The Custodian” Grenache 1996 – £7.99
Massive dry tannins over tightly-wound black cherry fruit. A little leafiness, and a leathery quality. Palate has some bitter acidity poking through, but it is very tight and focused black fruit, pepper and spice. Good weight and concentration, good length.

d’Arenberg (McLaren Vale) “Coppermine Road” Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 – £14.99
Tasted many times now, including last week so didn’t write a note. Intense, mint and cassis cabernet of high quality.