Wine Ark (http://www.wine-ark.com.au/) held their usual tasting event at The Australian Museum, always with real treats in the wines presented, and this night all wines were from dedicated family-owned producers. Leeuwin Estate is self explanatory as a premium Margaret River winery. Alex Retief wines shows interesting and dynamic character from a boutique private winery (not open to the public), making wines from the Canberra and the Hilltops regions. And to finish off, some delicious Chianti (Sangiovese dominant red wines) from Barone Ricasoli in Tuscany – from recent releases to 2001 vintage. Barone Ricasoli is the fourth oldest family-owned company of any type in the world. I’ve decided to include James Halliday’s recent scorings of these wines, since his well awaited Australian Wine Companion 2011 was recently released.
Leeuwin Estate – Presented by Marketing Manager Simone Horgan-Furlong
2009 Art Series Sauvignon Blanc – A more elegant, refined style of Sauvignon Blanc as the passionfruit and stone fruit characters aren’t overbearing like in many of the commercial Sauvignon Blanc wines around today. Rrp $33, 96pts.
2008 Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay – Fragrant and elegant bouquet, this second label from Leeuwin Estate equals some wineries’ best Chardonnays. Rrp $34, 94 pts.
2007 Art Series Chardonnay – Also refined and elegant with subtle oak influence, is one of the top 50 collected wines in Australia and always produces outstanding vintages. Rrp $96, can cellar to 2022, 96 pts.
2008 Art Series Shiraz – Fragrant and spicy with prominent structure and leanness to it. Rrp $38, 94 pts.
2005 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon – Superb example of Margaret River Cabernet, with herbaceous on the nose and a powerful, intense palate that can be cellared up to 2030. Rrp $60, 94 pts.
A. Retief – Presented by winemaker Alex Retief
2009 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (Canberra) – Refreshing style of Sauvignon Blanc for those used to New Zealand’s white wines, in an almost French stlyle. rrp $25, drink over the next two years, 94pts.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot Malbec (Canberra) – rrp $28, can cellar to 2020, 90 pts.
2008 Shiraz Sangiovese Malbec (Gundagai) – rrp $28, can cellar to 2020, 88 pts.
2008 Shiraz (Hilltops) – Plenty of cocoa character with velvety tannins, plums and berries, rrp $27.
Barone Ricasoli Chianti – Presented by the Wine Ark Cellar Club Director
2009 Chianti – Fresh and vibrant aroma and palate of red cherries, spice and some cocoa, supported by good, non-overpowering structure, and a long finish. Rrp $25
2008 Brolio Chianti Classico – Rich but elegant aroma and palate of ripe red juicy fruits, spice, a touch of linear minerality, with oak and underlying tannin. Rrp $43
2007 Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva – complex aroma of fruit, chocolate, pepper and roasted coffee, followed by a generous palate of red berries and tannins and toasted characters. Long length.
2001 Castello di Brolio Chianti – Well developed aroma and taste, with ripe fruits, blackberries, well integrated oak and a mineral edge which refines the wine in taste all resulting in richness and length.
Leeuwin Estate is never a let down and both the Prelude and Art Series Chardonnay are fantastic quality at each price point. I thoroughly enjoyed A. Retief wines – their Shiraz is full on cocoa characters and good ‘mouth feel’. Barone Ricasoli Chianti wines were all delicious and make fantastic food pairings, with the entry level Chianti presenting pretty good value for money. If you’re not already familiar with Chianti wines, we in Australia will most likely see more of them here and they are definitely worth a try. Perfect accompaniment with Tapas, Antipastos, Italian, Mediterranean, Pastas, and even just Fresh Olives and Cheese on Crackers…