So ends my last period at Dookie Agricultural College, which amuses me not just because it’s a tidy milestone but because I still can’t quite believe I ever started this pedagogical folly of mine in the first place. And yet here I am, just weeks away from finishing my studies for good (for now). The two weeks just passed have involved plenty of lab work and a fair few tastings, the latter of which I will summarise here. Those interested in my creative writing as it relates to spectrophotometry may contact me directly.
All wines below were tasted blind.
The most interesting session of the fortnight was a Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon tasting. A modest pair kicked off the Semillon flight: a 2011 Peter Lehmann and a 2011 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth, the latter showing some distinct lettuce characters. These were followed by an altogether more interesting 2004 Elizabeth. With an absolutely classic flavour profile of lanolin, honey, toast and waxed lemons, this was delicious and still youthful in the mouth. By contrast, a 2002 Elizabeth (under cork) was tasting tired and washed out. I know this wine can go for a good deal longer, so I suspect we simply encountered a dodgy bottle.
A 2005 Lovedale followed; this was clearly the group’s favourite, although I felt it still too young to fully enjoy (I say this as someone who has a stash of this wine in his cellar). Quite fleshy and fruit sweet, this showed waxed lemons, a curious sense of spice and a very attractive smokey note. As an aside, am I the only non-smoker who has an embarrassing affinity with the smell of old tobacco smoke?
A bizarre 2003 Tyrrells Vat 1 was up next and, although I’ve not tasted this wine before, it struck me as highly atypical. A very neutral aroma with a whiff of cheesiness, this led into a palate that showed more lees character and a rounded mouthfeel. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has more experience of this wine than I.
Lastly, we tasted the most extraordinary Brown Brothers single vineyard wine from 1987 – the vineyard being Mount Major on Dookie Campus. Although it did not scale the heights of a great Hunter wine, this was still a wonderful bottling, showing great complexity and overwhelming notes of butter, toast and honey. The mouthfeel was rich and well matched to the wine’s deliciously indulgent flavour profile. A fabulous experience.
The Cabernet tasting was more difficult, and I struggled to locate as much pleasure. Two unexciting wines got us into the mood: the 2010 Katnook Founders Block and a 2005 Dookie Cabernet that seemed much too advanced for its tender years. The Katnook was a lot better and was a good drink, though not especially exciting either.
I quite liked the next wine, an Oakridge 2008, though no-one else seemed to. Lovely dusty nose, cedar oak and velvet mouthfeel. The finish started a bit hollow but filled out with air. The next wine, a Howard Park Leston from 2008, also confounded the group, me amongst them. Not a bad wine by any means, but it just seemed angular and unresolved. I was beginning to feel like the odd one out when the group went nuts for the next wine, a Bowen Estate 2009 Cabernet, whereas I found it initially hard and lean. Air did the wine a great many favours though, and it ended up gaining more plushness in its mouthfeel and a richer core of red fruit. Not bad.
My second favourite wine of the Cabernet section was next. With a browning rim and some sediment, this evidently aged wine showed classic dust, leather, soy and hints of dark berries. The palate was soft, elegant in the mouth and still well structured. I found the fruit fresh and extended right through the finish. The reveal showed it to be a 2003 Mildara Rothwell. From memory, this was not a hit with the group (too much oak, I think).
The last wine was clearly a different breed. All of a sudden, we had cigar box, tobacco leaf and gravel, savoury black fruits and a lighter countenance overall without sacrificing length and presence. I liked this best of all, as it seemed to have a balance and elegance missing from the other wines. This turned out to be a 2006 Moulin de la Lagune.