Coates Wines

Coates ( – has got to be up there in terms of small, almost secret, boutique wineries making amazing wine. It really is a pleasure when you aren’t previously familiar with a certain wine/winery, try it without any expectations and then BOOM! It hits you! But not quite so volatile… Like an ‘elegant’ explosion it fills your mouth with intensity, silky smoothness and seamless body, texture and weight. Coates produce great quality wines from $20/bottle upwards to age worthy additions to fine cellars. There was also a very interesting Touriga in the range which many may not think of buying before trying, but once you try it and ‘get it’ (kind of like getting bitten by the Pinot (Noir) bug, as they say),  it’s an amazing wine to drink and show to people as a unique wine made in Australia.

After trying these wines I got to meet Duane Coates in a second tasting session, who appears somewhat reserved but feels very strongly about his winemaking methods. He adopts a no-compromise approach to his wine craft – definitely evident in his wines – you can taste and feel it! Coates uses organic and biodynamic principles from sustainable vineyards, with all-natural yeast fermentation (no cultured yeast/tannin/enzymes added), minimum acid-additions, new oak kept on a low, no fining agents/naturally settled, and all reds are unfiltered. In other words, these wines naturally reflect their full potential and place of origin – simple approach but hard! Organic/biodynamic winemaking is something which more Australian wineries are moving towards, especially with the world’s influence of top French Chateaux and winemaking…

Below are my tasting notes from some wines in the Coates range:

Coates Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2009: Chardonnay with a massive Burgundian influence – stunning, elegant palate that’s also clean and well structured with a good finish. Non filtered therefore a fine lees deposit in the bottle, but it presents purity that’s lovely to drink. Rrp about $32/btl. A bare 100 cases made.

Coates Barrel Fermented Robe Pinot Noir Rose 2010: Deep colour for a Rose, made from Pinot Noir. Aromatic and off-dry, not sweet. Well balanced, serious Rose with texture. Great with Asian cuisine. Made from Robe, an emerging wine region from Limestone Coast, South Australia. About $14/btl. – great value!

Coates Tenison Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009: Nose lifted and fresh (fresh fruit aromas) with earthy complexity. Not too big, rich or oaky. Savoury, textural style. Great length and silky texture with plush fruit. Coates ‘entry level’ Pinot made for food, perfect with duck and surprising value! About $26/btl. One of my favourites. Only 240 cases made.

Coates Consonance Syrah Cabernet 2007: Exceptional grapes in a great Australian Cabernet Shiraz (Syrah) blend. The Coates Consonance range are blends of regions/varieties marked for an entry level (made to the way Coates likes to treat his wines) price point – although this doesn’t taste like entry level wine! Concentrated deep crimson colour, with intense aromas – nicely perfumed although a little reserved (let it age a little more), vibrant blackberries and forest fruits, with subtle mint and spices/cardamom. Palate juicy, plush and softly textured with blueberry and cassis intermingled with dark earth and mocha flavours… Solid and long finish. Drink now to 2018. Rrp around $22/btl! Superb Value!! 450 cases made.

Coates Touriga Nacional 2009: My favourite! A dry red with aromas of lovely floral notes with whiffs of dried muscadell grapes. Palate has warm dried fruit characters but with plenty of savoury complexity – think dark chocolate, delicate spices, Earl Grey tea (a striking character), good tannins and firm structure but very silky and plush. Great example of Australian-grown Touriga. Delicious palate and finish that lasts and lasts… 14% alc. Rrp about $32/btl.

Coates Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2008: (Cabernet from Langhorne Creek, Merlot from Adelaide, Malbec from Robe.) Reserved, elegant nose with fresh/crushed white pepper and herbs. Palate juicy with more bright red and black fruit (compared to its aroma) – good fruit structure/palate weight. Long and seamless taste with fine tannins and intense, savoury finish. A classic wine with great balance. Perfect Lamb accompaniment (and other red meats). Only 220 Cases made. Drink now or cellar. Around $32/btl.

Coates McLaren Vale Syrah 2006: Traditional European Rhone style Shiraz – less fruit and more of everything else, although still a very ripe wine, with spices, plush tannins, savoury characters and warm, long finish. Very good quality. Drinking now or will cellar well. Around $36/btl.

There is also Coates Cuvee Consonance Sparkling Shiraz 2009 – I’m usually skeptical about sparkling shirazes but this is a really great, elegant example and perfect at a celebration or with turkey, about $26/btl.

Coates is a bit of a quiet achiever in the Australian wine scene, but along with holding MSc. in Oenology and MBA from Adelaide university, and currently enrolled in the Master of Wine (already succeeding in both theory and practical, now working on the dissertation), his wines certainly speak loudly for him. While you won’t see Coates Wines splashed across many reviews or offers, these wines are/will be available through some great venues (such as Bootleg, Vaucluse Cellars and Wine Odyssey in Sydney). Enjoy!


7 thoughts on “Coates Wines

  1. I do not usually comment on blogs, but I too have fallen in love with Coates wines and feel compelled to share! LOVE the TN, and also the fortified he does. What a brilliant winemaker, I have yet to try a dud. Hard to find, but worth looking for!

  2. Hey Foodie. I know I hardly comment on blogs either but thanks for your comment! I’m so glad to hear your affirming experience with these wines. You’ve reminded me to get my hands on more TN! It really is an exceptional example and so delish!! Cheers!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Nice summary of Coates! I found the sparkling shiraz to be one of the better ones I’ve had recently (though I’ve had a few stunners too). Incidentally you’re about the only person (other than me!) that’s reviewed it. Which is unfortunate…

    1. Heya Teddy! Thanks for reading – yes I certainly haven’t seen many reviews either, but glad to know you’re a fan 🙂 That sparkling shiraz is very complex for a sparkling red – lovely to see. I actually was looking up food pairings for sparkling shiraz and found bacon & eggs! I can see it would work well – the savoury shiraz density weighs well with the smokiness of the bacon; the acidity, tannin and the sparkling part of it would bind well with the fat and protein; and the fruit flavour (not too sweet) of shiraz just a nice compliment with bacon (like how fig could pair with prosciutto etc). Anyway just my thoughts. Talk with you soon, Cheers!

      1. Heya Sarah,

        Yup, I’ve read the bacon & eggs pairing somewhere before and can see how it’d work, but I just can’t imagine an opportunity when I’d want to be drinking sparkling shiraz AND eating bacon & eggs!

        Incidentally, if you’re ever looking for a sparkling red that’s on par with the Coates (and for mine, it’s marginally preferable) I’d recommend the Houghton Museum Release 2004 (it was a one-off, apparently).

      2. Haha – well there have been times when I’ve been out all night and do still enjoy having a white wine around 11am in the morning at Bondi Beach, along with eggs breakfast. If the spark shiraz was chilled I’d definitely be up for it hehe! I haven’t tried the Houghton but I know they’re well known for their Cabernets as well, so thanks for the recommendation 🙂

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