The ICC group met on Thursday 5th May for a Tasting of wines from Margaret River. I think this is the first time the group has focused exclusively on such a small Australian wine region, although we have sampled Western Australian Wines in a single session before…

Margaret River has a reputation for fruit focused wines with a more refined and maybe more “European” way of expressing that fruit – without so much of the over-intensity or simplicity one can find in other Australian areas. We shall see…
Here are my Notes:
LEEUWIN ESTATE ART SERIES RIESLING 2007   –   12 %   –   R&B Wines £13.50
This is a bit of a bargain – a Riesling with some age for quite a lot less than the current vintage (typically £17). Indeed the immediate nose is classic mature Riesling Diesel. There are also hints of elderflower and citrus in a long piquant but complex nose. The palate has mineral and searing acidity – lime certainly (though not quite as warm as the lime found in Clare Valley) and grapefruit. A slightly spicy note and softer fruit – mango? peach? – appear later. Very good.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  16/20

PIERRO “LTC” SEMILLON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015   –   13.5%   –   Wine  Society £17
A subtle and complex nose: soda hints, a little oak, citrus, some floral and gooseberry notes. The palate shows an oily richness (from Semillon?) and acidic dash (from Sauvignon) slightly separate at first… but great interplay developing and a slightly green apple flavour. With time the Sauvignon flavours appear more. Perhaps would be better in a couple of years but very well done…
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  16/20

HAY SHED HILL CHARDONNAY 2014   –   13 %   –   Wine  Society £13.50
Melon and citrus notes with hints of linseed, nuts and wood. Palate is dry and precise with a strong fruit (melon and greengage) line bring warmth and length underneath a profile with structure. Rich but in no way flabby.
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  16/20

CAPE MENTELLE SHIRAZ 2010   –   13.5%   –   Fareham Wine Cellar £18
Nose of blackberry, cherry and redcurrant with a herby undertow. Palate has a sweet warmth recalling ginger with sweet berry fruit. There is a hint of bay and although there is no salty tang there is a slightly bitter finish. Supple, but  tannins and acidity don’t quite support the fruit.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14/20

LEEUWIN ESTATE PRELUDE CAB-MERLOT 2010   –   13.5 %   –   Wine Society £18
Minty nose with mainly black fruit and a hint of cedar. Lots of fruit on the palate, but disappointingly narrow and short. A well made wine but lacking the structure – or the persuasiveness – of the whites.
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  14.5/20

ROCKY ROAD ZINFANDEL 2010 (McHENRY HOHNEN)   –   14.5 %   –   Fareham Wine Cellar £18
Fruit pastille nose of mainly black fruit. Big and definitely in the Californian idiom, but supported by more obvious acidity and an olive-tinged tannic line. Although this is a big simpler wine it is rendered well and actually seems better balanced than the other two reds… Very good of its style.
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15.5/20

A very interesting tasting – with the whites certainly living up to their billing. Pure ripe fruit rendered with some precision and lightness of touch, supported by clean acidity and developing interest and complexity. The reds, however, were a bit less convincing – they still had pure ripe fruit but showed less acid balance and – surprisingly – less tannic backbone. These factors made the focus which seems like “precision” in the white, seem like “narrowness” in the reds. The exception was, actually, the wine where one would expect less acidity and precision – the Zin! This actually had some, making the style rather enjoyable and wearing its high alcohol quite lightly. Those four wines make a good case for seeing Margaret River as providing half-European style Australian wines. As for the Shiraz and claret-copy, perhaps one has to go up the cost ladder a couple of steps to see the same phenomenon?

Until next time….