Leconfield Cabernets 1998

Curious, curious. First off, the sticker above the label on the back of this bottle appears to be in Chinese for some reason:


If memory serves me correctly, I bought this at the winery in the Spring of 2002. At the time, it tasted pretty fantastic to me, so I schlepped a bottle home, moved it a few times, forgot about, and then was reminded of it this week when Julian reviewed the 2008 version of what I assume is essentially the same wine.

So: how’s this one? Well, just for grins, let’s quote Mr Halliday:

The bouquet is fresh, with aromas of mint and leaf, and minimal oak: the palate is elegant, but pretty light for a ’98. Best drinking: 2002-2004.

Oops… guess I left this one in the cellar too long. Or did I? Well, let’s see: the color is no longer pretty light: instead, it’s a fairly dark, rich, squid ink black with some watering at the rim. The smell is reminiscent of entry-level port: somewhat fruity, a hint of wintergreen, and not terribly much else. In terms of taste there’s a faint hint of unripeness, but that’s just fine; without it, it would be too simple, too fruity. There’s still just enough tannin to keep it from being completely without interest, but only just barely: although this doesn’t taste bad, it really doesn’t taste good, either. If tasted blind, this could almost be mistaken for sweet and sour McNugget sauce: simple, slightly sweet, with a little bit of acidity.

Eventually, however, the wine did in fact display some reasonably interesting notes of wood and dirt, but those were sadly overwhelmed by marked acidity on the palate. I do believe that I let this one slip away from me. Lesson learned: I should have drunk this six years ago.

Price: A$30.95
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

I’ve tasted this over a couple of days. At first, the aroma created an entirely positive impression, being both varietal and strongly regional at the same time. I value Coonawarra Cabernet’s signature leafiness and fruit character, both of which this wine has in spades, along with a framework of rather glossy cedar oak. The reason why I let it sit for a while is because, on the palate, the acidity struck me as over the top; not outrageous, but a little peaky and unbalanced.

Interestingly, time and air have changed the flavour profile without significantly calming the acid. Today, two days after opening the bottle, the overtly vegetal side to the aroma profile has subsided, allowing dark chocolate to take its place.  What has remained constant is a decadent edge to the fruit character; it’s limpid and easy, like ice cream melting in Summer, and quite delicious as a result.

The palate remains on edge to an extent, a trait partially offset by the character of the fruit. As with the aroma, red and black berries express a syrupy dimension, in the most positive sense. Quite lush on entry, this is mostly fruit-driven until the middle palate, where very slightly raw oak impresses the palate, and tannins start to settle on the tongue. The tannins create a mouthfeel not unlike high cocoa content dark chocolate — full, perhaps raspy, quite pleasing to me. There’s just enough power in the fruit to ride atop all of this and carry some nice sucrosité through the after palate and into the finish. The finish itself is nice and long, not to mention delicious, though it needs time to fill out.

I really like the fruit in this wine; the question mark for me relates to structure, and whether all the elements are in balance. Still, I do like drinking this.

Price: $A30
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Prunotto Barbaresco DOCG 2004

More and more, I’m interested in wine that expresses a tense, contradictory aesthetic. Aside from challenging the idea that wine ought to be harmonious and coherent, there can be something beautiful about pieces that don’t add up, or that seem to cancel each other out. It’s the beauty of death, of horror, or simply of a puzzle that defies resolution.

I like this wine because it smells of things that ought not to go together. Instantly, the smell of vinous decay and death; oxidisation, the leather and dried flowers of old red wine. Alongside, the smell of twenty different kinds of oak; nougat, vanilla, caramel, spice. Then there’s a big hit of tar and, paradoxically, a burst of fresh flowers. It’s like watching a life in fast motion, from birth to final days, moving so quickly the pieces blur and overlap. I could smell this for hours.

The palate is all about sensationally prominent tannins and deceptively light fruit flavour. Entry is fresh and full of savouriness: flowers, dried peel, almonds, and so on. There’s a sense of the sweet decay of autumn leaves that adds nuance to what is a powerful expression of Nebbiolo fruit. Impatient tannins creep in, fine and abundant, seeming to create a network of texture that rips across the tongue and shoots right to the back of the mouth. Overall, this wine has serious impact without sacrificing its essentially medium bodied, high toned character.

Not a wine of great refinement, then, but a true expression of this style at what I assume should be a reasonable retail price. Went very well with steak and chips.

Price: $A110 (restaurant wine list price)
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail


My life and this blog have not coincided as much as I would have liked over the past week, which isn’t to say I haven’t tasted some nice wines. It’s been more about enjoyment than critique, though, with no detailed notes taken. Hence, the following impressions are broadly evocative rather than precisely descriptive.

Mesh Riesling 2009 ($A30, retail)

One of those astonishingly austere Rieslings we do so well in Australia. This is the archetypal dry Eden wine, completely focused and unswerving in its progression over the palate. Flavours at this stage are typically straightforward, mostly lemon-lime and flint on both the nose and palate. It lacks the floral lift one sometimes sees, expressing instead a sense of muscularity and power. Intense flavour and acidity in the mouth, this is almost too much to drink on its own. I’d pair it carefully with food now or just leave it alone for a decade.

Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay 2008 ($A45, retail)

This label usually impresses me with its sense of poise and balance while still showing a fair bit of winemaking. At the very least, it proves Chardonnay doesn’t have to be either/or in character. This is a good M3, with plenty of tight white peach flesh and mealiness, nicely textured in the mouth and sensible in proportion. The oak is used exceptionally well, I think, adding some subtle spice and warmth (emotional, not physical) to the flavour profile. It just tastes very right and is immediately complex. This is the dinner party guest who manages to do and say all the right things. No need to wait for it to settle.

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2006 ($A65, retail)

This, by contrast, isn’t ready to drink (without a good decant, anyway). Quality isn’t in question, though, and what impresses me most at this stage is the wine’s immediate, unforgiving power. It’s like a punch in the mouth with a feather, mixing light bodied styling with quite brutal acidity and a detailed, etched flavour profile of red fruits, cedar, sap and general pinosity. Fabulous length. Despite its muscularity, there’s something alluring and seductive about it too; feminine, but in an angular, slightly severe mode. I can’t quite pin it down, but I love it just the same, and smile at the thought of how it might fill out in time (say, four to five years). Fascinating wine.