Proper Australian names for a Syrah Mourvèdre blend. Smells of old linseed oiled cricket bats, that’s also something the French might not recognise, polished walnut and leather in an old Rover motor, blackberry and damson preserves. Old England without the airfare. Second day, there’s some nougat oak which sinks into bright nutty cherry red fruit bowled up on a good length. Background notes of darker fruit, licorice and dried woody bush land. Typical firm Clare acidity and furry ripe tannin close the deal. It’s that full whack shiny, almost honeyed, red fruit that proves its value. Pretty label, real wine.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $26 at Langton’s on line store, good value.
A winery with an address on Wendouree Road East which could be an indication of grape quality, especially as it seems the vines are eighty years of age. Here the Clare Valley puts its stamp on a Grenache, making it less plump and generous, more sinewy and lithe. Starts with the instantly recognisable smell of doing dusty bottle time, then breathes some faded rose, mint and cherry. Despite a pale colour for Clare, it builds well with these flavours sweetened with age. Finest of satin tannin and delicious twist of Campari acidity. Bony structure but flesh too. Made by gentle infusion more than rough extraction perhaps and better for it. The relatively high alcohol had more effect on the drinker than the flavours.
14.8% alcohol. Screw cap. Lucky auction win for $25.
Some generous wine loving people bring the most delicious things to the dinner table. Wendouree at its zenith. All those alluring smells, Oz bush after rain, rich cherry, cassis and whilst I’ve no idea why, the word mossy comes to mind. A soft explosion of all these things in the mouth as what must be the Malbec builds and builds a rose and bramble intensity. Structurally, the tannins are perfectly ripe and full of comfort. The acidity perfect. Expletives and pleasures galore.
13.7% alcohol. Cork. Thanks for sharing.
97 points, yes really.
Clare Valley Cabernet blends are part of Australian wine heritage, particularly if they have some Malbec adding sweet berry fruit to that stern old Cabernet. There’s also some Cabernet Franc here too but the back label is coy about percentages. Opening with all the correct clean smells of strict winemaking, cassis, red fruits, mint, tobacco and a dab of coffee and vanilla oak. Broad shoulders, square of jaw and firm of handshake. Open and guileless. It’s the depth of sweet berry red fruits that convinces, all set against firm, no nonsense tannin and acid. It’s the lingering mouth perfume of cassis that beguiles, showing beautifully ripened Cabernet. Little age weariness, just a smooth mellowing. Very tasty and firmly Clare. Nothing fancy.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Was about $26 on release.
One from the cellar. The tree bark came out a little bit too easily but still seemed to have done its job. Such a volume of those typical Wendoree smells, Australian forests after rain, choc mint, cherries, blackcurrant, and something involving iron and liquorice. Huge in the mouth but still disciplined by fresh, natural acidity and a solid wall of frowning skin tannin. A reminder of Wendouree from the last century. A lasting fruit perfume smooths the structure and maybe there’s finally a suggestion of age starting to calm the austere Cabernet scaffold or is it that round Malbec swell of sweet berries? In no way diminished on day two. The 2018 vintage mail out on real paper in an envelope is due in the letter box soon. A few for the cellar and some optimism about living long enough to enjoy them.
13.2% alcohol. Cork. About $45 on release.
If the choice was limited to only one Australian red wine producer, then it would have to be Wendouree. Even in the most unloved of vintages and 2011 certainly qualifies so far for this millennium, those old vines produced a wonder. Since the change to screwcap, there’s been a move to the less extractive and the more chiseled in shape. The 2011 dampish vintage only emphasises this. Opens like it’s only a couple of years old with fresh red fruits perfumed by roses. Only with considerable air do the more typical mint, Australian bush and mossy background appear. Appropriately for Easter, this was still very much alive on the third day, palpably at its best. The increasing depth of flavour wasn’t short of gobsmacking. The change in style and the cool year give the fruit an astonishing clarity and fragrant charm. Built more on fine acidity than rumbling tannin, although they’re still there and gently ripe. It’s like the Aussie muscle car chassis has been unbolted and replaced with that of a taut Italian two seater. Imagine the rich fruity essence of Wendouree built on the cool savour of a good Barbaresco, not in flavour but in structure. Modern Wendourees may not please the traditionalists but they’re an expletive worthy expression of vintage and vine. Depth and clarity, say it again, what a treasure.
13.5% alcohol. Gualia screwcap. $45 ish on the snail mail list.
95 finessed points, Wendouree and finesse, say what?
Sometimes a cork does what it should, horoscopes align, it’s a fruit day or it’s luck. Whatever the reason when a Wendouree is this good, it can take its place amongst the great. Not least as it’s a quintessential wine of place. Profound depth of menthol, wintergreen, damp Australian forest, rose oil and sun warmed blood plums. Great weight and stately Rolls Royce power but no heaviness. Length disappearing into the far distance. Perfect ripe melting tannin and a completely natural buoyancy make it hard to believe it’s already thirteen years since harvest. Great wine and big thanks for opening, decanting and generous pouring.
13.50% alcohol or thereabouts. Cork. Generosity beyond money.
Definitely 96 points. Possibly 97.
The most elderly first. The mail out said 52% Shiraz and 48% Malbec from 1898 Central and 1919 Eastern vineyards. Youngest vines are now centurions, happy birthday. Like the best 2000s Wendouree vintages this took a while to unfurl. That unmistakable mossy, minty and eucalypt menthol lift with dark cherry and berry fruit and a puff of lemony oak. Builds on the tongue as Wendouree does do with more Clare dark cherry and an anchor of fair but firm skin tannin and natural ripe acid. There’s also something wine gum dark and mysteriously spicy too. Beautiful grapes and place no mucking about.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $48 from the mailing list.
Now the younger. 65% Shiraz and 35% Mataro from 1893 Central and 1920 Eastern vineyards. The first Wendouree vintage sealed with screwcap, a posh Italian one too. If the mid 2000s started to show a bit less extraction, then by 2009 things are becoming positively elegant! Fragrant with menthol, anise, cherry and dark plum. Just a seasoning of nutty oak. Probably just imagination but this seems so fresh and pure, could it be the change to screwcap? Fine mid weight wine in the mouth that once again builds and then builds more flavour as it travels through. Fruit as above plus some earthy tar broods darkly. Such different poise and balance compared to Wendouree from last century. Must say I’d like a Tardis to try those young vine ones from before and between the world wars. Still very positive tannin but perhaps finer and more melting? Do enjoy telling those not aligned to Wendouree who ask how to join us to check out the Brady’s extensive social media presence. Rude cheek of a grumpy old man.
13.80% alcohol. Screwcap! $50 from the mailing list.
Very subdued on opening. It seems to take a few hours of airing for mid 2000s Wendourees to feel the need to talk, shy and reserved. Surely less extraction and fresher than those from the last millennium. Slowly that unmistakable mossy Aussie bush scent and deep fruit emerge. Sings confidently but not brashly in the mouth with bright berries and darker purple, iron black flavour. Beautifully settled, natural acidity seems to set Wendouree apart from some of its local peers. Quiet power and grace. Sense of place. Now all they need is an Instagram account.
13.50% alcohol. Cork, roll on the 2009s and following vintages with screwcaps. About $45 from the snail mail list.
Tastes change and develop but some fancies last and generous, amazing value Clare Riesling is a constantly comfortable cushion. This is as rich, full and dry as it should but has a sinuous swerve from lime drenched fruit to sweet herby mineral savour and back. Lovely, comforting and a bargain. Must have a dally in the shade of their Peppertree Shiraz soon.
13% alcohol. Screwcap. $20.