I do this blog for fun, the wines here are some of the very few I can be bothered to write up. The cream has risen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Juniper Estate 2014

The first winery of our May 2014 Margs trip was Juniper Estate. On arrival at cellar door we were taken to the barrel store where a private tasting table had been set up for us. I think they had mistaken us for someone important.

Clearly they didn't know who I was because they had whites for tasting. What the heck I thought, if they can pretend I'm actually a wine expert, then I can pretend to be one, and I condescended to taste the whites. It turned out to be a win-win, where I did all the winning.

2012 Juniper Estate Semillon
What is this stuff? Semillon can't taste this good! I was so amazed to have a white wine of such complexity and balance that I failed to write any serious notes. I did scribble a score of Highly Recommended+++ and to cellar it for another 5-10 years, if you can.

2012 Juniper Estate Chardonnay (not Crossings)
They make about 400 cases of the Estate, and about 800 cases of the Crossings Chard, so pretty small volumes. Some of the guys by coincidence had the Crossings on the Qantas flight over and thought it must be the top tier Chard it was that good. The Estate Chard is made with wild ferment which adds complexity, it's fairly fully bodied with balanced acidity and a creamy but not oily mouthfeel. Very slurpable now but will be more interesting with time. Recommended++

2007 Higher Plains Chardonnay (museum release)
The best Chard and white wine I've had in a decade. Extremely well balanced with fabulous complexity, exemplary acid, nutty and fruity palate with hints of peach and flint. This wine is an outstanding example of why you need to consider Margaret River a premiere Chardonnay region, and also why you should age them a bit. Excellent++

2011 Shiraz
As the first of the MR Shiraz it completely stood out as quite different to my usual SA Shiraz diet, much more red fruited but still fairly full bodied. Somewhat savoury with hints of mace and nutmeg. Comes from a vineyard near to cellar door, planted in 1973, and 45% new oak barrels. I wouldn't want to drink it all the time, but this turned out to be one of the best Shiraz in the region. Highly Recommended+++

2004 Juniper Estate Shiraz
Showing some of the same regional flavours as the 2011, this wine is far more developed as expected but with plenty of primary fruit still left. Quite powerful flavours and wonderful complexity. Excellent+

2011 Messenger
A first release, blended from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It wasn't even released officially, and when I asked if I could buy a few, Steve went to check on availability. He came back saying he couldn't find any labelled bottles but did drag winemaker Mark Messenger out to meet us instead. Mark chooses the best barrels to blend this wine from, hence it's name. A very complex wine with power and finesse, lovely tannins and should be brilliant in a decade or so. There's not much made at all, if I can read my scrawls right I think it's only 100 cases, so get in early. Excellent+++

2010 Higher Plains Cabernet Sauvignon
About 90% Cab, a splash of Malbec, and a dash of Petit Verdot and Cab Franc. Savoury, fruit forward, wonderful tannins, long finish and a wine built to age. Highly Recommended++

2010 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Typically this wine spends 30 days on skins and then 15 months in French oak. There's a bit more power to it and the finish is impressively long. I slightly preferred this and I reckon it will age exceptionally well. Highly Recommended+++

2004 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (museum release)
Despite being 10 years old, it is still very vibrant but with exceptional developed complexity, coupled with power and outright sexiness. This turned out to be one of the best wines of the trip and strongly encouraged me to view MR Cabs as longer term cellaring wines. Outstanding++

Starting at Juniper Estate set the bar so high that I was somewhat concerned that we wouldn't find anything else as good. They were fantastic in giving us a great overview of what MR clearly does best, and how well those wines can age. We did find other great wines, and we certainly continued to experience fantastic hospitality at many other wineries there, and at some point soon I hope to write about those as well.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Margaret River 2014

The actual Margaret River

I've just returned from a week long stay in Margaret River doing wine tasting pretty much all day every day. My liver grumbled at this abuse, but I told it if JH can sit in his office and taste 10,000 wines a year, then surely we can cope with a measly few hundred in a week.

I went with some of the guys from the Australian Wine Tasting Group and we were certainly shown some great hospitality to go with the fantastic wines. In the wine review world we are nobodies, but we felt like rockstars at times, doing barrel tastings and sipping museum wines in the barrel store with winemakers.

Our aim was to get a good overview of what Margs produces and what varieties and styles it does best. We also wanted to know why the big names got famous, and also hunt out the up and coming smaller guys that have trouble getting their wines into the retailers in the east.

It's a beautiful region, and the green fields filled with cows make it pretty clear why a bunch of dairy products hail from there. But the best thing about the place is the friendly people, and I highly recommend a stay in the region.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting some excerpts from the copious notes I took, though it didn't convince my liver I was working. Hold on to your glasses, I may have even tasted a few whites... 

Sculpture at Thompson Estate - they do like their sculptures in Margs