Last Sunday was estimated at a magical 25 degrees in Adelaide, so what better way to spend a mild summer's afternoon than a trip to South Australia's most famous red wine region, sampling warm, hearty reds, which might otherwise have been a little too gutsy for a more typical Adelaide summer's day.
There are few Australian winery buildings with more grandeur than Grant Burge. So grandeur is the setting, my girlfriend has flirted with the idea of one day seeing Grant Burge as the backdrop for our wedding vows (I said one day...). She envisions walking from behind the fountain (pictured), down the terrace of long stemmed white roses (also pictured), to culminate in the semi-outdoor function area at the end, whose ceiling constitutes nothing but vines. Although it is Valentine's Day, I am here to talk wine....
As seems to be the norm with large Barossa wineries these days, the range at Grant Burge is spreading its wings, with more fruit coming in from the Eden Valley and the cooler Corryton Park vineyard in the Barossa's far south-east, as well as the Adelaide Hills for whites and sparkling wines.
Although Grant's range has almost as many still whites as it does still reds now, I still consider his brand a red specialist first and foremost. Traditionally I've considered Grant Burge whites to be sound, if not great wines, and the wines tasted on this day haven't shifted my opinion. The current reds, however, do reflect the difficulties of recent Barossa vintages, with a good amount of the range being rather ripe, smooth and quaffable 2008s, but fortunately, its two highlights came from that same vintage, in the way of the Filsell Shiraz and a shiraz mourvedre blend labelled under the name of Daly Road.
2005 Meshach was for sale ($130!) although unavailable for tasting, while a current vintage Shadrach was not to be seen. No Shadrach will be made from 2007 (nor Meshach I think?), while the 2006, which has been available for some time, was unsighted at the cellar door.
Interesting to note Grant Burge's Icon wines and Wines of Distinction (basically those $34.95rrp and up) still all sport corks, a trend which I'm told is going to continue.
Grant Burge tasting notes are posted below
Grant Burge Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay ($24.95) Almost essential in your wine list, if you happen to own a pub in Adelaide. A nose of sweet, baked apples had me thinking residual sugar, and on query I was told it's definitely in there. The faint sweetness adds a richness to the palate without being detrimental to its dryness, line or effervescence, while it finishes agreeably ticklish and fizzy. A real consumer friendly style. $10 off would be great though. 88
Grant Burge Sparkling Blanc de Noirs ($27.95) Almost 100% pinot noir, 2% chardonnay? White, maybe faint blush sparkling. Immediately has more character on the nose than its cheaper sibling. It's somewhat meaty and honeyed, with a pleasing touch of pinot-esque cherries, but there's still a suggestion of RS. The palate shows enough classy balance and effervescence to make it a relatively agreeable aperitif style. I don't mind this at all. 89
Grant Burge Thorn Eden Valley Riesling 2010 ($18.95) Good lime fruits to the nose, in more of a lime pith and green apple style. It's a touch simple and not as expressive or refined as some from the season, but it's undeniably Eden. Its palate presents pure citrus fruits, in a fractionally broad manner, yet it's still very fresh, thanks to a clean, drying acid balance that cuts and strengthens the whole package. 90
Grant Burge Zerk Semillon Viognier 2009 ($18.95) 70/30 blend. It's a shame Barossa semillon is a bit of a hard sell these days (unless your brand name is Peter Lehmann), because I'd almost always prefer to see it in single varietal, dry white wine form than in some of the interpretations I've seen lately. Interestingly, the semillon owns the nose here, with a clean restraint of lemon fruits graced by a touch of viognier's stonefruit and spice, but the viognier speaks much clearer on the palate, which is somewhat rubbery in feel with a finish marked by viognier's unmistakable acid. It's a clean, easy enough drink though. 88
Grant Burge Daly Road Shiraz Mourvedre 2008 ($18.95) 81/19 blend. Looks like this style of blend could become more popular. Fortunately, it seems to work in challenging seasons, while wines like this and Coriole's Dancing Fig are more than reasonably priced. The Daly Road reveals a nose loaded with bright fruits, in a rather plummy sense, with a touch of licorice for further interest. The palate is a shade soft and round on entry, but its dark fruit and licorice flavours are balanced and even enough to carry the wine to good finish, where mourvedre's delightfully rustic attributes make a much welcomed statement. 90
Grant Burge Cameron Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($21.95) Mint, vanilla and black plum nose, expressed with some rather bruising fruit in a style typical of both label and vintage. The palate however, is a bit softish, ripe and simple, making for a rather easy going Barossa cabernet that is a result of its hot season. 87
Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2009 ($21.95) Oooooooh. Ultra-ripe, porty nose - similar palate. All of my companions were searching for the spit bucket on this one (not common!) and I'd definitely give it a miss too. 84
Grant Burge The Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005 ($34.95) An interesting chain of events saw 2007 Holy Trinitys sent out to stores, before a supply of 2005 and 2006s were found in Grant Burge's large storage facility. Hence, 2005 and 2006 are available to purchase at cellar door, with 2005 on tasting. Developing nose with sweet, leathery/meaty red fruits and choc-coconut oak. Seems a bit uneven. The palate's a bit unconvincing as well, with a collection of raisin, leather and earth flavours, which altogether suggest it might be at a rough stage of development. 87
Grant Burge Balthasar Shiraz Viognier 2007 ($34.95) 3% viognier. Pleasing cola-like plum fruits and a touch of cinnamon to the nose, with viognier adding a smoothness and warmth without any apricot nuance. On the palate though, the viognier is a bit more noticeable, adding smoothness and warmth through the finish, to quite frankly, create more of a quaffing style wine. 87
Grant Burge Corryton Park Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($34.95) Made from a 12 year old vineyard planted in the Barossa's coolish, far south-east, almost halfway between the Eden Valley and Williamstown. It is hoped this vineyard will one day make up the dominant portion of the Shadrach. Although still showing a minty nose of blackberries and cherries, the Corryton smells much more even and deeper than the 2008 Cameron Vale. It's medium weight and quite ripe, with a strong whack of tannins at the finish that don't quite seem in tune at the moment. Give it some time maybe? 89
Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2008 ($34.95) Typically one of my favourite 'second' shiraz labels from the Barossa. From a fairly disappointing vintage, the 2008 didn't disappoint! Settled, deep nose, adequately reflects its old vine fruit source. Abundant and rich black plums, cherries and of course, American vanilla oak, are all expressed in a classically Barossan style. There's wonderful concentration and surprising elegance to the palate, which seems a very unforced, natural Barossa shiraz drawn down the line by good length of fruit and very tidy structural elements. There's much to like here. It's perhaps a 'drink now or later' style. Delicious. 93
Grant Burge Abednego Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2003 ($59.95) Perfumed, fresh nose for its age and season, although it is decidedly meaty and gamey with some prune fruits present as well. It possesses a leathery, gamey palate, with a fistful of mourvedre's charmingly assertive tannins imparted through the finish and a length that goes on and on. Just goes to show that in warmer Barossa seasons, mourvedre and grenache aren't bad varieties to seek. 90