A shamefully over-blown and horribly tedious Australian Cabernet

(my bolding, above) Well, one quibble, and it comes down to perspective. I’d amend the bolding to read “…than those that generally prevail in Australia’s exported wines.” The UK has a slightly less contorted view of Australia than the US, because I believe there’s a better range of widely distributed wines available there. I don’t think there are so many ‘export labels’ in the UK; you read some of WA’s reviews of Oz wines, and you think ‘I live here, and I’ve never heard of a third of these wines…’

So, it’s a bit pointless arguing - we’re both examining different parts of the elephant. I haven’t drunk much Rockford BP (old or otherwise), but it baffles me that someone could not enjoy old St Henri. The bottom end of Penfolds range - Rawsons, Koonunga - is swill these days, and the lower bins - 28, 128 - are very much vintage-dependent propositions, but St Henri, Bin 707, Grange remain the icons they’ve been for 40-odd years.

Although, parts of Australia will struggle with the generally warmer climates & drought conditions that are the norm these days. Time was, only a very few hot regions ever made reds at much over 14% alcohol; 13% was the norm. Maybe even extrapolating from the past will be dangerous.

Hi David!!

I too don’t care for over the top, ripe fruit, shameless high alcohol Australian wines. This past weekend I did have a Australian cab I actually liked a lot. Low in alcohol, wonderfully balanced and very unlike any CA or WA cabernet I’ve had. The wine was a 2002 Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” cabernet from Margaret River and nothing like the 2001 I had about 2 yrs eariler. Fabulous, cerebral wine without a high price.

Another Aussie wine that surprised me was the 2003 Bindi “Original Vineyard” Pinot Noir with a nose of cherry, saddle leather, mushrooms and earth to die for and a silky mouthfeel of red fruit, leather, spice that wasn’t far behind the nose.

Of course, wines like Run Rig and Grange are the way great Australian wines should be made. Shameless wines like Mollydooker should not even be classified as wine [mouth-drop.gif]

Hello Anthony,

Leeuwin Estate make some very pleasing wines; the Art Series Cabernet can often be pleasingly refined, impressively stylish and a damned-good drink to boot! The Margaret River area seems to suit Cabernet well. Even though it is far from my preferred variety I do have a soft spot for Moss Wood Cabernet and Cape Mentelle Cabernet.

Shameless wines like Mollydooker should not even be classified as wine



Good afternoon. Nathan Waks from Kilikanoon here. Never nice to read such a review, but as one of the replies says “chacun a son gout”.
FYI the same wine was chosen to be tasted blind last week by Wine Flight 2010 a group of 40 plus UK wine retailers, wine retailers, journos etc including Oz Clarke and Robert Joseph who have been visiting Australia.
The wine was very well reviewed, with a particular emphasis on how well it hid its alcohol, so I’m just wondering whether David’s bottle was served too warm, or indeed had some other fault.
As a general rule, we recommend decanting and serving these wines at “European room temperature”- ie 16 C would be better than higher…


Welcome - I hope you stick around.

I have to question, however, your request that the wine be served at a colder-than-room-temperature setting. Typically serving wine cold is what masks alcohol, which most people see as a flaw. To insist on a cold-temperature serving, aren’t you masking a fault?

Hi Todd

Actually, 16 c is what most burgundies are recommended at and people like Jaboulet recommend their Syrah at 16-18, which is fine for me.
My own experience (I am an owner not the winemaker) is that at slightly lower serving temperatures the fruit comes first and the alcohol later. As it stays in a (nice big) glass, it will inevitably warm and the alcohol will come through.
We also make Seppeltsfield fortifieds, which for the same reason we recommend serving cooler than most would expect.

I’m not planning to debate the merits of higher vs lower alcohol, except to say that Kevin Mitchell, or brilliant winemaker has always followed his own tastes (and the vineyard advice of his old man Mort), which results in our Clare Valley wines generally ripening at baume levels which end with 14.5-15% alcohol. We have indeed received high scores from Robert Parker, but we have also won a lot of international blind tasted awards…

Good wine at room temperature drives me nuts. I like whites served around cellar temp and red wines a bit warmer…but not at 68-70 degrees! When I’m at a restaurant that serves me a room temperature red, I often ask them to put the bottle on ice for a bit.

That’s just a long way of saying that I think many fine wines show best (or at least I enjoy them most) at cooler than room temperature. If the wine in question does not show heat at the proper (to me) serving temperature, I wouldn’t consider it a flaw if it showed it at a higher temperature. I’ve had people serve me burgundies that I love at high temps (say poolside in LA…so 80 degrees?)…ugh!

All that said, I haven’t had this particular wine but do enjoy some Australian wines a great deal, particularly from the mid-to-late-90s.



My favorite server at my favorite local eating place knows to automatically chill my reds down to low 60s.

David, I too enjoy Tim Adams Aberfeldy. The Clair Valley acidity gives it great drive. I had a '99 before Christmas that is developing beautifully and has several years left in the tank. I’m surprised at your experience with aging Rockford Basket Press as a '99 tasted at the same time as the Tim Adams was excellent and nowhere near its peak. I agree with you about the Gary Farr made wines. I loved the Shiraz and Pinot Noir that he used to make for Bannockburn before striking out on his own. He worked many vintages in France and was influenced by Alain Graillot and Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac. A Shiraz I suspect you would like is the Best’s Bin 0 from Grampians, Victoria. It is usually around 13.5% alcohol and ages superbly. In the big and rich style, I also enjoy Amon Ra and other Ben Glaetzer wines.


[quote="David Strange The Margaret River area seems to suit Cabernet well. [/quote]

I’ve always found the Cullen Diana Madeline to be quite impressive. It shows well with a few years under its belt. Has the austerity of a well made Left Bank wine.

… misread the title. I first thought it may have related to the style of tasting note !

Perhaps “not my style” would have been more balanced.

ps - I thought the owners response was showed some class.

First of all, I think you should have put the Monty Python sentences into quotes.

Second, you did get some value out of iit. This wasn’t some neutral boring wine, this was a fully blown Australian red made to a certain style. You disliked it enough, that you spent time enjoying yourself criticizing the stuff.

Third: I totally agree. I, too was unfortunate enough to be given this wine blind. I kept wondering why somebody would want to use insect repellent as an additive. Maybe they thought it would taste better. They were half right.

Afternoon Mark,

True, I’d rather be offended than bored, but nice things are nicer than nasty things so I’d prefer to rave about things I love.


PS. Odd that this thread should have risen after a year, my paranoia tingles…

Generally I agree, but sometimes it can be quite fun to unleash one’s bile on someone (or something) that truly deserves it.