It was a bit of a lazy day yesterday, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to head down to Langhorne Creek. The first stop on my travels was my favourite winery in the region; Lake Breeze (the picture on the right was taken back in October 2008; yesterday was much more grey and overcast, with many an overgrown vine).
Unfortunately, the string of trying vintages in the region has had its effect on Lake Breeze's red wines, which is reflected in my scores below. Given more favourable circumstances the standard release cabernet sauvignon and Bernoota blend are capable of being the best value reds in Australia. The 2004 vintage provided stellar examples (cabernet - 93pts, Bernoota - 93pts), highlighted by Bernoota winning the acclaimed Max Schubert Trophy for best red wine at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show.
Due to dwindling stocks, Lake Breeze's two reserve level wines, the 2005 Arthur's Cabernet blend ($30) and 2005 Winemaker's Selection Shiraz ($35), were unavailable for tasting. These must be two of the most undervalued reserve level reds in Australia and I had no hesitation in picking up some bottles of the Arthur's Reserve at $30. There will be a full review of the 2005 Arthur's Reserve in a future post. No Winemaker's Selection Shiraz was made in 2006 or 2007, so the next release will be a 2008.
Another aspect of Lake Breeze's cellar door that must be mentioned is the False Cape wines, sourced from South Australia's Kangaroo Island. The cool climate wines of Kangaroo Island are extremely hard to find, even in South Australia, so any opportunity to taste a bottle from this emerging region must be taken. By all accounts the region's shaping up as a good spot for cabernet-style wines, which is the variety of False Cape's top drawer release. The only False Cape wines available for tasting were a sauvignon blanc and a shiraz.
Lake Breeze cellar door tasting notes are posted below
False Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) Kangaroo Island. Very fresh, citrus infused nose with pronounced notes of lemon, but it lacks some varietal punch. Presents a palate of restrained varietal fruit character, with slightly greenish herbal/gooseberry undertones. It's a clean and simple style but requires more length. 86
Lake Breeze Chardonnay 2008 ($17) Pungent, melon, lemon and grapefruit nose with butter oak and sweetish toffee-like aspect. The palate is sweet and simple in the warmer climate chardonnay style. It's quite approachable and certainly an acceptable quaffing style, but it could really use more balance through acid cut/refinement. 87
False Cape Ship's Graveyard Shiraz 2006 ($17) Kangaroo Island. Subdued nose with choc-raisin aromas and soft oak. Rather uninspiring, flat, overly simple and developing palate with an edgy extract of sandy tannin at the finish. 85
Lake Breeze 'Bernoota' Shiraz Cabernet 2007 ($19) 60/40. Big hit of menthol on the nose with ripe, dark fruits typical of the vintage backed by chocolate/vanilla oak. Its palate is truly regional in its softness and vibrancy, finishing with approachable, polished tannins which are more untypical of '07s. Ready to drink now. 90
Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($21) Big menthol/eucalyptus, dark plum and berry fruit nose with chocolate/vanilla oak and touch of cinnamon. Its soft, dark fruited palate lacks varietal character, structure and length, but is certainly approachable and would make a good cabernet for those who aren't such a fan of cabernet's more aggressive qualities. 86