Wine Talk

Snooth User: Lucha Vino

Favorite Australian Wines?

Posted by Lucha Vino, Nov 12, 2010.

Stephen Harvey and I started a conversation about Australian wines on the Cabernet Sauvignon thread last week.  I thought it would be good to start up a fresh topic.  So here it goes...

What is your favorite Australian Wine?

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Reply by Lucha Vino, Nov 12, 2010.

I asked about the Penfold's Koonunga Hills 76 and here is what Stephen had to say:

The Koonunga Hill 76 is a very good wine at its price point - usually at about $15.

The 76 is a commemoration wine celebrating the first Koonunga Hill in 1976 and started with the 2006 Vintage.

The wine is a great example of what we can do with the Shiraz/Cabernet Blend and I know from inside Penfolds that this wine probably gets allocated better fruit than its price point would suggest.

Here are my tasting notes

And some more comments and recommendations from Stephen about Shiraz/Cab blends :

It is what we do best.  If you get a chance my favourites are:

Penfolds Bin 389 - 86,90,91,96***,98**,99,02,04,06

Yalumba Signature - 90,91,96*,98*,02,04**,05*,06

Jacobs Creek Johann - 01,02,04

Rockfords Rod n Spur - 04,06

The standard Koonunga Hill is a great quaffer and is usually smooth and eay to drink - no frills but competent and often sub $10

Yalumba do a Scribbler which is a very good quaffer but more around $15

Penfolds do some Special Bins, one is a Coonawarra Cabenet, Barossa Shiraz Blend is usually numbered Bin Yr A eg Bin 90A, and the other is a Coonawarra Cabernet, Coonawarra Shiraz Blend and is nubered using some strange three digit number where the first digit represents the decade, eg Bin 920 was a 90 Vintage.

Reply by SilviaNorby79871, Nov 13, 2010.

my favourite winery of all time here in australia is Brown Brothers Vineyard at Miliwa
my next favourite is St Leonard's and All Saints Estate- both these wineries are owned by the same family and are about 5minutes aways from each other in Wahgunyah in Victoria.

Brown Brothers Cienna is my favourite wine closely followed by their moscato

St Leonard's Muscadello is deliciously light and fruity

Branbock Station Wines are good too- they are pretty cheap- their winery in South Australia is beautiful and the good thing about them is that they donate a percentage of their profits to land-care.

Brite White Smile

Reply by liufyufu, Nov 13, 2010.

My favourite is James estate Reserve. Following is Jim Barry, the lodge hill, and Kilikanoon's Killerman's Run.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 13, 2010.

I think one of the great strengths of the Australian Industry is its diversity and the willingness of many of our winemakers to experiment with variety and style

Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not but without any adventure you go stale.

Below is a summary of my regional preferences

Clare Valley - Riesling and Shiraz

Eden Valley - Riesling and Shiraz

Barossa Valley - Shiraz and Shiraz blends, predominantly with Cabernet

Adelaide Hills - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, there is a group of winemakers experimenting with try to develop a more "Sancere" and/or "Fume Blanc" style of Sav Blanc with some light oak maturation

McLaren Vale - Shiraz and Shiraz Blends, some quite good Shiraz Viogniers coming from here

Coonawarra - Cabernet Sauvignon

Margaret River - Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blends, Chardonnay and Bordeaux white blends - Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc etc

Yarra Valley - Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blends, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sparkling White

Mornington Peninsula - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Beechworth - Cool climate Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Great Western/Grampians - Shiraz, Sparkling Shiraz, Riesling

Tasmania - Sparkling White, Pinot Noir, Riesling

Canberra - Cool climate shiraz, Shiraz Viognier

Hunter Valley - Semillon

Multi regional blends - despite the continuing push towards terrior I still believe the Australian concept of blending across regions to produce significant wines is an important part of our winemaking signature and culture.  It allows for expression of fruit and an ability to produce a more consistent wine vintage to vintage. 

We have a lot of people experimenting with Italian and Spanish varieties and whilst we are getting some successes the challenge is to find the right regions to plant and also allow the winemakers to learn to understand how to best manage the winemaking process. 

The best example of this is Pinot Noir - ten and even five years ago you would struggle to find only a few half decent Aussie pinots, but a number of winemakers have really persevered and are now making some very good examples.  But it has been a long journey and we only have a few places where the climate is pinot friendly.

Anyway I will continue to provide whatever I can to the Snooth community around our wine .

Reply by outthere, Nov 14, 2010.

Yalumba Signature - 90,91,96*,98*,02,04**,05*,06

Stephen, I'm interested in the stars next to the vintages. I just had an 04 Signature that just didn't do it for me and I'm trying to nail down whether it was me, the wine not being my style or a bad bottle. It had lots of vegetal notes, green bean, green and red bell pepper, to it on the palate that overpowered everything else going on in the glass. Any feedback on this?

Reply by outthere, Nov 14, 2010.

Maybe it was olive as I just don't enjoy the flavor of black olives.

Reply by vawineaux, Nov 14, 2010.

OMG, a posting about my favourite wine producing continent! Well, I was fortunate to have a little sampling of The Grange from Penfolds twice this year and I dare say it was the high point of my 2010. Who could possibly hate this wine? But, since I can't afford a $525-a-day wine habit, I'll just stick with more "accessible" labels like Jim Barry's Cover Drive Cabernet or the Ebenezer Shiraz from Chris Ringland.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 14, 2010.


That surprises me as I have drank around 6 bottles of the 2004 and rate it quite highly

My only thoughts are;

Bottle variation due to maybe a faulty [as opposed to tainted] cork

Travel shock

Storage issues post Australia, although that is unlikely usually if it is poor storage you get the cooked wine problem

I will have a look at a bottle tomorrow night at dinner as the vegetal and green descriptors are very unusual for this wine.  My criticisms of it when it underperforms is usually too much stew plums, etc

The only oher issue I can think of is whether it is going through a dumb phase in its development.

Anyway will let you know

btw - the stars represent my favourite vintages

Reply by outthere, Nov 15, 2010.

Thanks Stephen. It came directly from the importer so I assume provenance is just fine. I really think it was an off bottle but have limited Aussie exposure and don't want to make any generalizations in my mind about what to expect or render unsatisfactory notes when not warranted. I anxiously await your notes.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Nov 17, 2010.

What is your take on the John Duval wines?  The Plexus, for example.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 17, 2010.


Plexus is is SGM/Rhone Blend

Entity is his shiraz ~$35

Eligo is his top end shiraz ~$100

I really like the Eligo but it is expensive so I only usually drink a bottle per vintage.  It tends to be a more elegant wine although alcohol around 15% but is well balanced, gets 94-96/100 from a lot of wine writers including US based.  Blend of Barossa and Eden Valley.  I have a rule that I generally will not buy a lot of a wine >$50 until it has a 5+ year pedigree of vintages and more likely 6-10 years so I can see what it is like as a ten year old wine.  This could become a classic Aussie Shiraz but needs more track record.

Entity is a very good solid Barossa SHiraz and is significantly better value than its $100 big brother.  Is certainly a more restrained wine than a lot of other Barossans.  Gets good reviews and scores and medals etc Sits in the 90-96 range.  I am becoming more of a fan an dJohn himself is a great winemaker [was the face of Grange for 10+ years and is a nice guy]

Plexus is a solid SGM, I am not a true Rhone convert but am certainly getting more of a liking for the style. I need to check the pricing but I think it is around $20-25 and reflects the Barossan ripe style of Grenache which gives that raspberry overtones.  Shiraz dominance makes definitely gives more Barossa style to Rhone style but is a good drink.  I must try it one to one against a rhone and make some notes

Hope that helps


Reply by penguinoid, Nov 17, 2010.

I've tried a few alternative varieties that have stood out as being particularly good. In the Adelaide Hills, Chain of Ponds makes good Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera, as well as more traditional varieties. In the Mclaren Vale, Coriole's Sangiovese is excellent. They make a pretty good Nebbiolo rosé too.

So far, though, I think my favourite Australian wine would have to be a 1997 D'Arrenberg 'The Custodian' Mclaren Vale Grenache. I bought a bottle earlier this year, as I thought it was unusual to see such an old vintage sitting out with the rest of the wines in the wine shop. Now I wish I'd been able to buy more than a single bottle... I doubt it's still available, though.

Mostly I tend to look out for smaller producers. Some of them are making very interesting wines, I'd say that where you find the most interesting wines at the moment.


Reply by Lucha Vino, Nov 18, 2010.

Stephen - Thanks for the details.  I was interested in the John Duval wines because of a "special" deal on magnums.  Turns out to not be so special as I can get prices similar to what you have listed at my local wine shop (and those are less than the special offer).  I will probably pick up a bottle of the Entity for the holidays.

P - Any other D'Arrenburg recommendations?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 18, 2010.

Chester Osborn makes a squillion wines all with bizarre names, however the wines are generally pretty good

I am a fan of the two shirazes

Footbolt - $16-20

Dead Arm $55-70

The Dead Arm is an excellent example of McLaren Vale Shiraz, I would drink -34 a year and am rarely dissappointed

Avoid 97,00,01,03

96,98,02,04,06 are excellent, they are much better if decanted for about 30-60 minutes

Reply by penguinoid, Nov 18, 2010.

Thanks for the vintage suggestions for the Dead Arm Shiraz. It's one I've been wanting to try for a little while, but it's normally just a bit out of my price range. I'll have to think of an excuse...

I've also tried Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon -- again, I had an older vintage (1997 or 1998, I can't remember which), and it was excellent.

I've also tried a more recent vintage of The Custodian Grenache (the 2007, I think). Again excellent, but not as good as the 1997. I suspect that was the perfect combination of a great vintage and just the right amount of bottle ageing.

The one other wine of theirs I've tried is the 2008 The Noble Mud Pie, an odd blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris and Marsanne. It's a sweet wine, made from fruit infected with noble rot (c.f. Sauternes from Bordeaux). Also very good.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 21, 2010.


Had a couple of glasses of the 04 Signature, I did not get the green overtones you mentioned although I did get a bit of an olive type hint in the flavour.  Never noticed that before.  We had two bottles over the weekend from very different batches and there was not any discernable variation.

I would describe it as a fairly typical Signature and being 6 years old is in that stage of transition from a young wine to mature one.

The only other comment I would make is that 04 in general has thrown up some different flavour profiles with many wines from South Australia showing a slightly more raspberry sweet fruit palate than normal, how this translates with age will be interesting.

So far no real issues but whether that sweeter fruit is getting some green vegetive overtones with age is an interesting question.  Will keep my eyes on that one.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 21, 2010.

Had the Killerman's Run this weekend that I hadn't opened during that virtual tasting a couple weeks ago. Thought it not bad, at all.

Where would you place it in the wine constellations of Oz, Stephen?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 21, 2010.


Killermans run is the entry level wine for Kilikanoon wines from Clare Valley.

Usually retailing around 15-20 it is a multi regional South Australian Blend

Generally its a good solid easy drinking shiraz, which because of the multi regional status is pretty solid on quality from year to year.

Kili's other wines are pretty good but I do wonder that a couple of recent aquisitions might have stretched them a bit

I am a fan of their Morts Block and Morts Block Reserve Rieslings

Reply by outthere, Nov 21, 2010.

Had a couple of glasses of the 04 Signature, I did not get the green overtones you mentioned although I did get a bit of an olive type hint in the flavour.  Never noticed that before.  We had two bottles over the weekend from very different batches and there was not any discernable variation.

Thanks Stephen. Mine tasted like it should have been in a martini glass (olive). I'll chock it up to being in flux. I appreciate the follow-up!

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 21, 2010.


No probs, I think with all wine you try from outside of your home region it always takes time to find a style you get comfortable with.

The Shiraz/Cab blend [in either order] is one we have had in enormous quantity from the big guys [fosters/constellation/pernod] to the niche players and from $5/bottle to $500/bottle.

I think we are the only country who regularly produces this blend and I think it is predominantly a South Australian phenomenon

We drink so much of it we are used to it.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill which is a $10 wine was my staple wine for many years and I bought a lot of it so that I could build up my celler but still have a decent everyday red to consume.  This wine is usually pretty good for the price and if you can get it at around USD10 it is worth a try as a good cheapie to have arround.

Penfolds Bin389 is probably the benchmark of this style and is usually around the $40-50 mark and has a great aging capability - certainly best vintages will get 20+ years, but it can be a tough wine to try young, it needs about 6-10 years and often hits a flat patch at about 5 years [it is released as a 3yo wine].


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