My Nicely Judged Australian Trio. Not Full-on At All.

My Nicely Judged Australian Trio
Not Full-on At All

Top wine writer, Hugh Johnson (he’ll be in Ballymaloe for the Lit-fest) has noted how Australian wine has changed from "full-on" to "nicely-judged". Reckon I’ve got a trio of the latter here. Enjoy!

Chris Pfeiffer in Cork

Pfeiffer Carlyle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 14.5%, €19.85 Karwig Wine

First, a geography lesson. The Pfeiffer winery is located in the parish of Carlyle in the Rutherford Glen area of Victoria in Australia. I met Chris Pfeiffer in Cork a few years ago and he is very proud of his area and of its wines and named this wine after his parish. You may read about Chris in Cork here.

This purple Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent. The nose is a strikingly rich mix of red fruits and violets. The palate too is rich, concentrated and smooth, hints of sweetness and then a long and slow finalé. Best in the parish? The wine-making neighbours, 40 miles or so away, may have something to say about that! But this is a lovely wine and Very Highly Recommended.

Pfeiffers are well known for their stickies (sweet wines). The Wine Atlas of Australia suggests that Christopher’s Vintage Port is the one of the best. Interestingly, the Pfeiffer website doesn't mention the word Port, diplomatically calling it Christophers VP.
With David Bryson (left) at a Cork tasting

Morambro Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Padthaway (Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines

The Bryson family established Morambro Creek in 1994 and their signature wine, according to James Halliday, is the Bryson Barrel Select (Shiraz, Cabernet). They also own the Jip Jip Rocks and Mt Monster vineyards, both also in Padthaway.

I met David Bryson (5th generation) in Cork in 2013 and, as it happens, had a taste of this very wine. David said it is selected from a small number of outstanding barrels each vintage. Traditional wine-making and minimal processing feature strongly in the making of “this Cabernet derived from our estate vineyard”.

The nose, typical of the area, is fragrant and more expressive than the Carlyle. It also has a purple colour. On the palate, it is superb, lush and intense, some spice too. The tannins are fine and soft. The power and smoothness is a delicious delight and the finish is persistent. Overall, a great balance. It impressed two years ago and impressed again the other night. Very Highly Recommended, for sure! You'll probably notice that it comes in a rather heavy bottle!

Padthaway, on the Limestone Coast, is the area in which you’ll find the vineyards that David and his brothers, Paul and Andrew, look after. Their parents, Clive and Elizabeth, built the wine business up over the past half century before handing over to their three sons. Since 1851, five generations of the Bryson family have been involved in agriculture in the area.

Katnook Founder's Block Chardonnay 2012 €17.99 (down now to 15.95) Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

The recent Australia Day tasting in Dublin illustrated once again how the country’s Chardonnay has found redemption in recent years. Once big and brash and off-putting (remember the ABC!), now it is much more subtle and so much the better for it. And Katnook is a splendid example of what you can expect nowadays.

Katnook had quite a selection on the Findlater stand in Dublin but I had already bought my own Chardonnay in Bradley’s, thanks to the advice of their Michael Creedon. A small proportion has been barrel fermented, then matured on its lees for six months and the wine is made “in a fruit forward style for everyday drinking”.

With its subtle oak tones from the barrel fermentation, its good concentration and long finish, this is an elegant solution if you want a well-made well-priced Chardonnay. And even better value now with two euro off. Katnook is, like Deakin Estates, owned by Spanish Cava producer Freixenet.

It has an attractive straw colour with white fruit aromas (peach and nectarine) evident. There is a smooth flow of white fruit onto the palate, a rich mouthfeel, those oak hints too, good acidity, balanced all the way to the the end of the lingering finish. Highly Recommended.

See blog post from the Australia Day Tasting in Dublin here