Hallgarten's Partners Secure Eight Wines in Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines
Now in its 14th year of publication, the Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines 2017-2018 includes a line up of eight wines from the Hallgarten portfolio.
The wines from Larry Cherubino, Berton Vineyard, Eden Road, Lake Breeze, clos Clare, Fox Gordon and Paringa Estate were selected as they showcase the finest Australia has to offer.
Larry's portfolio is already large in Australia but in the UK it has growing slowly but surely and been begin to tell you just how thrilled l am to see the Frankland Cabernet on our shores. Let's set the scene with a volley of Cabs and return to our hero in due course. Our Cabernet odyssey starts with 2014 Pedestal Cabernet Merlot Margaret River. This is a 'classic Larry' wine smooth, polished, gentle, rewarding and ready to go. It is the friendly face of forward-drinking MRCS and it works a treat.
Next up, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River, the tannins are hewn from the finest skins with Saint-Estephe-like attitude and malevolence. There is active austerity here making this a challenging wine as opposed to a walk in the park. The flavour is mighty and profound with hitherto unexplored depths of black fruit. It casts such a mighty shadow on your palate that you find yourself scanning for the nearest exit. Cabernet fiends will slake their thirst here greedily. Others will not understand the vinous dialect being spoken here. Either way, this wine is set to light a fire under 100 Best like never before.
Bob Berton tucks a few percentage points of Fiano, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon into this wine and I think that each of these grapes sacrifices its own fame in order to heighten the pleasure of the leading variety Vermentino. They join together to coach and primp this fascinating white wine into catwalk condition. The nose is spot on with faint rhubarb and peach stone notes, while the palate maintains it focus and propels itself confidently across the palate. The finish, helped on, one suspects by the SB & S, is raw and palate scouring and this balances the exuberance of the Vermentino fruit. Great blending, great fruit and a great price - this is adult fun in a glass.
2016 The Black Shiraz is a head banging red with a tiddly price and what is exceptional about this wine is that the fruit is so clearly in perfect condition that it shows no blemishes or flaws whatsoever - this is unheard of in a wine of this price.
2016 Metal Label White Viognier is another head scratcher. Not a lush style, but a tangy, nervous Viognier with classic perfume and a bright finish, this is a rare example of a wine made from this grape which I could demolish a bottle of in no time at all.
Finally, 2015 Reserve Botrytis Semillon, is exactly what is says on the label, except with more restraint and breeding that is usually found at this price.
Bob you are a hero!
Would you believe it, here is another Field Blend and this time it comes from the other side of Australia and it is made from a completely different recipe! Larry Cherubino's magical touch is evident in this 45% Pinot Gris, 25% Gewurztraminer, 17% Pinot Blanc, 13% Sauvignon Gris cocktail. Larry layers fruit like no one else and it doesn't matter which grapes are involved, you cannot ever see the separate jigsaw pieces, only the finished image. This is a floral, perfumed, exotic wine because the Gewurztraminer is the lead grape on the nose. What follows is a mellifluous torrent of sheer deliciousness and it allows itself to parade its glorious aromatic varieties before the Sauvignon Gris element slams the door on the debauchery with its crisp, grainy acidity. Perfectly balanced in spite of its exuberance this is a benchmark wine with Asian fusion dishes.
Larry's two other aromatic superstar wines are both on top form this year. 2016 Laissez Faire Fiano Frankland River and 2015 Laissez Faire Riesling Porongurup are epic examples of lush fruit and tight, refreshing acidity. The perfume on the Fiano is beguiling and the previous vintage of this wine was a massive hit on last year's Roadshow. The Riesling is ice pick shaprp and it pierces the palate with precision and makes you scream for more.
Eden Road's two standout Chardonnays are nerve-janglingly brilliant. Made from high altitude vineyards, picking the fruit at remarkably low sugars levels and then using low to no oak, these wines are so challenging and elemental they seek to push your senses to places they have never been before. My featured Maragle vineyard is south of Tumbarumba at an altitude of 400m above sea level. It produced some of the most powerful and structured Chardonnays in the region albeit at very graceful alcohol levels. The fruit is whole bunch pressed then transferred to older French barriques for 12 months. Only very small quantities are made and this is a wine of such extraordinary naked power it is phenomenal.
lt's partner in crime is 2015 Courabyra Chardonnay with no oak whatsoever and coming from a vineyard which sits at 740m above sea level. All of the texture is derived from the lees and aside from this is as pure a vineyard expression as you could ever hope to taste. Chardonnay students must make a point of tasting these wines. They are sheer poetry in vinous form.
Wine Titan, Bernoota, Lake Breeze's epic Shiraz/Cabernet blend, takes a well-earned rest this year from 100 Best duties, while we await the arrival of 2014 vintage. In its place the not so diminutive Bullant springs into action showering all and sundry with blackberry and red cherry fruit. This is an expressive wine without any trace of shyness. What you see is what you get and on the menu today is fruit, fruit, more fruit and also some stunning spice, right on the finish to keep it all real. In the world of fleshy, turbo-charged Bordeaux blends, nothing comes close to Bullant.
With a mighty 19/20 in my notes I have had an embarrassingly large number of tastes of this wine since it was released and I do hope that there is some left for others who wish to buy some stock for their cellars. This is a crystalline, brittle clos Clare with so much minerality and gusto is it genuinely arresting. The vitreous, green sheen and flavour spontaneity is to be admired and it is delivered with such sophistication it shocks the palate. I cannot put this wine down when it is in my glass and I cannot seem to keep any in my glass either.
The Dark Prince is my Nero d'Avola of all time. I see a fair few of these in the course of my job favourite and while they are often intriguing and occasionally diverting l never find myself lining up for a top up In 2016, this wine has transformed itself from being a fine Aussie actor into taking on the genuine mantle of this princely variety. The fruit is expressive and juicy with immediate appeal an the liquorice notes are succulent and herbal, while retaining a keen bitterness which balances the whole wine. Aromatically this is a very sexy little number with blueberry and damson notes hanging from the rafters, but the main action happens on the finish. Where Italian wines often end up sweet and/or raw, this one is pure crisp agile and refreshing.
Every Prince needs a Princess and 2016 Princess Fiano Adelaide Hills is nothing short of elite this year. There has been a gradual reining in of lushness and finery in this regal white wine over the last few vintages and can announce that this is wine which will please every one of its loyal subjects. The stone fruit and flower notes are exquisite and as if to emulate its swarthy other half, it also has dramatic finish which will send icy shivers down your spine.
There is a special place in heaven for this pair of wines. 2015 Peninsula Shiraz and 2015 Peninsula Pinot Noir are both epic wines. This range performs miracles at tastings where either wine, when poured, manages to be memorable not only for its variety, its maker and the brand, but also for its the region, the State and the entire country.
These wines are walking adverts for Australian vinous genius. People want to go to Paringa, in Mornington, near Melbourne, in Victoria, in Australia. I am told this by people all of the time. This is not because Lindsay McCall pays for prime time TV ads or massive billboards in Times Square but because every single one of his wines is a fully paid up ambassador for his business and therefore everything else that surrounds it. Taste the wines you will understand in a moment. If you have tasted them before then wait until you see these 2015s they are even more honed and polished than you will recall. The Pinot is daring, intense, brooding and aromatic while the Shiraz is scented, vigorous, knavish and ever so slightly untrustworthy. You can do the Paringa ladder to the top and you will love every wine you encounter, but this year l am firmly welded to this pair of Peninsula wines because they are so unutterably superb.