Next stop on our brief Langhorne Creek getaway; Bremerton (photo taken October 2008). Bremerton has certainly become something of a compulsory stop for wine tasters in the Langhorne Creek region. Housed inside of a beautiful, large old building (which sits behind the one pictured) the tasting room is a historical treat that's always hosted by friendly staff. There's a variety of great light lunches available, as well as free tastings of flavoured olive oils, dukkah, dips and gourmet meats for the wine weary traveller (just don't give in to temptation and make sure you taste the wine before the chilli dips!).
On the wine side of things however, I must admit that Bremerton is another one of those wineries whose products I haven't enjoyed as much as others. Their lusciously fruited reds often display generous amounts of soft, sweet oak, leading to a very soft, immediate approachability, but I typically find they lack the savoury complexity or genuine structure of what the region is capable of. Even that most feted of Bremerton wines, the Old Adam Shiraz (whose 2006 vintage has sold out, with a May release date for the next vintage), has never really fulfilled my expectations. I also feel their red wines are marginally overpriced compared to those of nearby neighbours Lake Breeze and Bleasdale, whilst offering nothing more in the way of quality.
Having said all that it must also be said that Bremerton does have a very loyal following, and that these are just the opinions of one man.
It interested me to see Bremerton adding a pair of still chardonnays to their range for the first time from the 2008 vintage, in the way of both a standard and perhaps a rather ambitious 'Reserve Langhorne Creek Chardonnay' release. As with McLaren Vale, Clare and the Barossa, I'm a little unsure of Langhorne Creek's suitability to premium chardonnay production. I found the standard Bremerton Chardonnay to be quite typical of my expectations, but the reserve was a genuine step up in quality. I'd love to see about $7 taken off the R.R.P. of each (which funnily enough would bring them down to the price offered to Bremerton's Wine Society Members). The Australian chardonnay market is a competitive place these days, and it can't be easy coming in with a reserve release from Langhorne Creek for $32 when there are already a number of established wines from regions such as the Yarra Valley and Margaret River retailing for about $10 less.
Bremerton cellar door tasting notes are posted below
Bremerton 'Wiggy' Sparkling Chardonnay ($28) A wonderfully Australian interpretation of a Blanc de Blancs. Nutty, peachy nose with fizzy lemon sherbet notes. Its palate is creamy, round and pleasant but certainly lacks effervescent tightness. 85
Bremerton Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) Pungent gooseberry nose with a big hit of savvy 'sweat'. The palate is very oily and slightly flat yet framed by sour, lemony acids. It's interesting texturally if you're not adverse to oily sav blanc, but it could do with more freshness. 87
Bremerton Verdelho 2009 ($17) Presents a clean, lightly scented nose of melon fruits which could use more character, but it is indicative of the variety. The palate however, is much more interesting, with juicy fruits and a sweetish mid-palate that tightens up nicely towards a drier finish marked by hay notes. 89
Bremerton Chardonnay 2008 ($22) First release - cellar door only. Typical Langhorne Creek chardonnay nose with sweetish fruit marked by a strong whiff of fig and minimal oak. Its palate is cleaner, with more restraint to its tropical fruit character underscored by sweetish guava and fig undertones. 86
Bremerton Reserve Chardonnay 2008 ($32) First release. Immediately proclaims oak in its nose (compared to the standard release), with creamy, nutty vanilla/butter oak overlying creamed white fruits. Full and creamy, its palate shows genuine winemaker induced character, but surprises with some truly persistent length of clean, juicy fruits, all framed by soft, ripe acids. Assertively made yet well made; a surprisingly good Langhorne Creek chardonnay. 90
Bremerton 'Tamblyn' 2007 ($18) Cabernet/Shiraz/Malbec/Merlot. Soft, genuinely regional nose with eucalyptus, berry and plum fruits and vanilla oak. Soft yet vibrantly flavoured, its medium-bodied palate presents juicy fruit character ably framed by balanced sweet oak. It's a good quaffer (but aren't they supposed to be $15 or less?). 88
Bremerton Mourvedre 2008 ($24) Cellar door only. Soft, ripe, dark fruited wine in more of a richly fruited/sweetly oaked quaffing style. It's good and very drinkable, but it lacks varietal character somewhat, as it could just as easily be Langhorne Creek shiraz. (reviewed separate post). 88
Bremerton Malbec 2008 ($24) Cellar door only. I normally like Langhorne Creek Malbec, Bleasdale's in particular, but this didn't do it for me. Its nose is fair, with a stewy fruit fragrance of earth, rhubarb and raspberry, but its typically settled, vanilla oak laden palate is a bit thin and lacking structure, which it should have at this price. 85
Bremerton 'Selkirk' Shiraz 2007 ($22) Nice dark colour, with a leafy eucalypt, dark plum and mulberry nose with notes of vanilla/chocolate oak. Its simple yet approachable palate is soft and fruit forward, with ultra-ripe raspberry and currant flavours framed by sweet vanilla oak. 87
Bremerton Cabernet 2007 ($24) Cellar door only. Displays a more even nose than the shiraz, with stronger eucalypt notes overlying raspberry liqueur, cassis and sweet vanilla oak aromas. It's unsurprisingly the driest of the Bremerton reds in this price range, with a dusty framework of tannin coating its juicy, generous and ultra-ripe cabernet flavour. Typical of the vintage however, it lacks true balance and elegance. 86
Bremerton 'Reserve' Cabernet 2006 ($45) Dusty, dry, woody and savoury nose dominated by cedar tones and currant-like fruit. Its palate is concentrated almost to flatness, requiring more fullness and vibrancy of fruit, as well as a more marked expression of its lighter tannic structure. 86
Bremerton 'B.O.V.' Shiraz Cabernet 2006 ($75) Fortunately, the best wine I had all day, but for $75 it should be! Displays big, classic South Australian juicy fruit aromas of cassis and mulberry with a slight currant-like aspect, backed by chocolate/vanilla oak and that regional eucalyptus note. It possesses a very big palate, with good length of vibrant, juicy fruits and a genuine structure that's already looking very approachable at this stage. A good regional style. 92
Bremerton 'Ciel' Fortified Botrytis ($25) Served cold. Pronounced sticky date pudding aromas with notes of sultana and an oxidative, vanilla-like aspect. It's a much lighter, fresher style of fortified which is clean and easy to drink. Full of crossover appeal. 89