2017 GSM by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 GSM (40% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre) by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia.

Clear, bright Ruby color. Out of the bottle a nose full of terroir notes. A damp earthy turf dominates. Secondary notes of sweet cherries and ripe raspberries. A soft sweet woody essence lingers in the background. I’m not surprised by this expression. This region is known for other terroir driven/expressive varietals such as Pinot Noir, a blend of three highly terroir expressive varietals should shine like this.

Body is creamy, slightly viscous and weighted. Skipping introductions and greeting the palate with a gentle urgency and mid body expression. The whole package up front. The leather translates beautifully into the body and dominates. I don’t see this often. You typically smell the leather, but in this case you taste it. I really like this but I also realize some folks don’t care much for it. If you love a Chinon, Beaujolais or a faithful Cab Franc from Loire Valley, you will enjoy this GSM. Body quickly evaporates over the palate leaving behind faint hints of berries and whisps of refined caramel and spice so faint you’d likely miss it. A thin tannic structure remains along with subtle bitter cola. The lips swing between moist and dry until final settling on gentle dryness.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every wine I’ve had from McLaren Vale. This Winemaker’s wines are no exception. They are faithful, terroir driven. Clean crisp execution. They present a great opportunity for a look at this region for those of us on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and for that I am grateful. Great work Mates!

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2019 Grenache by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Grenache by Robert Oatley, McLaren Vale, Australia.

Pretty nose. Slightly restrained with slightly ripe raspberries up front and fine dusty leather in the back along with hints of anise. As it opens, it develops a white pepper spice, over red cherries.

Body is buttery smooth from front to back. A soft light and plush body greets with hints of cola. Raspberries carry over ever so slightly. A subtle wet wood leather as well. This conspires to lend a faint banana peel essence to the body which persists through the finish. After a long body, the finish comes fairly abruptly characterized by a thin but firm, crisp, dry tannic grip and a moderate but very noticeable spice heat. After about an hour, it develops a slight tobacco and the anise becomes a little more prominent.

What I love about Grenache is that, not unlike Pinot Noir, it doesn’t lie. Channeling terroir, it lays to bear what happened in the Vineyard and offers little forgiveness for what happens in the cellar. This is a great, well made wine, offering a glimpse into both. I love this region especially for its Pinot. This Grenache is welcomed diversion. Nicely done Mates!

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2013 Reserve Shiraz by Davey Family, McLaren Vale, Australia

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Reserve Shiraz (D Block) by Davey Family, McLaren Vale, Australia.

Deep inky color. Big, fruit forward nose rich with plum and sweet cherry. There’s a hint of leather towards the back. The plum carries forward into a big structured moderately acidic slightly dry body. Not as fruit forward as the nose would suggest. A hint of minerality. The finish is even more massive with boat loads of tannic grip that fight for dominance eventually ceding to a long lasting spice. This wine is just now becoming approachable. It is a solid wine now, but given more time to fully develop, I can see it turning into a real masterpiece. I’d say 5-10 years from now. During my recent trip to Australia, I found that on the whole, wines from this region were top notch. This one is no exception. If you are looking for a real taste of Australia here in the US, head over to @totalwine and pick up one of these. This is a fine example of a Shiraz from Australia. πŸ·πŸ˜πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

 

The Winery, Sydney, Australia

After a few false starts at finding a proper establishment that took not just their wines but also their Australian wines seriously, I finally stumbled upon The Winery. I should have started here and so hopefully this post will help any fellow winesnobs out there get a decent start to their visit to this part of the world.

The Winery is a Wine Bar, “A quirky urban garden oasis in the heart of Surry Hills” and I would agree on all counts. It is also warm, welcoming, inviting, rustic, simple. It is as one would imagine, Australian. I was looking for a place where I could explore Australian wines. Hopefully small batch production, artisan wines. I realized this was a tall order for a big city like Sydney but I knew there had to be a few of them.

I wanted to get an overarching sense of what Australian wines are all about. There is such a thing. Similar to the overarching theme one refers to when they say “Big California Pinot” or “Napa Cab”. I also wanted to get a feel for the overall quality and hence maturity of the Australian wine industry overall.

Fortunately I arrived at the right time. They had just upgraded to a new tasting station which afforded many more wines to be available for tasting on demand. Once I explained what my objective was, my hostess was very gracious enough to let me explore wines and vintages previously unavailable for tasting.

All the Aussie wines I tried were good, well made wines. This is perhaps the single biggest overarching theme of this trip. See, in California, if you ask for an Aussie wine, you’ll most likely be presented with YellowTail… That’s like asking for a California wine and getting Gallo… Nuff said. Below are three wines that stood out the most for me as well as my notes from this outing.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Tomfoolery

Slightly fruity nose with good berry, a little plum and oak. Restrained body, mild acidity, showing good balance, structure and moderate fruit. 14.5% ABV is unnoticeable. Smooth finishes, once opened develops long gentle tannic grip.

2018 Grenache by Tarot

Clean crisp wine. But this is an illusion. This is a bid powerful wine. At 14.9% ABV, an iron fist in a velvet glove. Nose subdued with hints of strawberry, oak, cherry and the faintest of earth in the background. Oak and cherry carry through the body, introducing heat and mild tannin. A surprising amount of structure once opened. Finish throws a fake as massive spice and tannin make a late entrance towards the end. This wine is no joke. If this Tarot is any indication of your fortunes, you’d better buckle-up. 😳

2014 Shiraz by Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard

 

Trying to read this wine is akin to stepping up to an old brick building and trying to sniff the bricks. It just won’t work. The nose is very reserved, giving only hints of berry, faint raisin, cherry. Leather, mineral, licorice and black currant only momentarily when swirled vigorously. This wine does not like to be disturbed. A massive tightly integrated body proves a challenge to pick apart. Minerality is pronounced. Very structured, inky, earthy come to mind. The finish quickly gives way to super heavy massive granite tannic grip that just won’t quit! I think I just found my new favorite Aussie wine! 😭🍷