South Australian Woodlands fans rejoice! Thanks to Kane from Landhaus in the Barossa Valley, Woodlands' spectacular wines have found new distribution into our state, where they're literally finding their way into a number of our retailers. Hurrah! One such retailer is Melbourne Street Fine Wine, who recently invited Kane to come in and show off his stuff.
Woodlands' high end cabernet styles display a savoury elegance, perfume and deep, supple, texturally inspired palates which conceal their formidable tannin structures to a tee. Cabernet of such quality is rare in Australia, particularly outside of the Margaret River's Wilyabrup sub-region. If you're living in Adelaide and haven't yet discovered Woodlands reds, now is as good a time as any to do so.
On a duller note, I continue to be uninspired by Woodlands' entry level wines. Yes, for under $20 they're fair value, but the Chardonnay is a bit simplistic, the vintages of Cabernet Franc Merlot I've had appear raw and edgy, and the Cabernet Merlot, which regularly receives high praise from numerous wine critics, has never quite tipped the hat for me. The 2009 Cabernet Merlot looks to have taken a step in my direction though, in more of a ripe and juicy, dark bruiser of a true BBQ style, but conclusively, I feel there's an all too significant gap between the quality of these wines and their more expensive stablemates.
It is here I must mention I absolutely adore what Woodlands does with their premium Bordeaux inspired styles. I continue to believe the Margaret Reserve is the most ethereal sub-$40 cabernet blend in this country. Its quality makes it impossible for me to ever fork out the extra $60 for Woodlands' undeniably spectacular Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The Reserve de la Cave Cabernet Franc and Malbec, although rare, are insanely good Australian wines and well worth seeking out. I couldn't help but ask Kane if he picked up any bottles of either Reserve de la Cave for South Australian distribution - he did - and they all found their way into the wine cellar at the Victory Hotel. It's about time I organised another dinner down at Sellicks Beach methinks. . .
Woodlands tasting notes are posted below
Woodlands Chardonnay 2010 ($17) Made in a simple, barely wooded style and it shows it, and perhaps excessively so. Its fruit focused, fresh melon, lemon citrus and grapefruit characters end with slightly sharp acids. It lacks complexity in all of its elements but might make for a fair enough quaff, if not much else. I'd love to see Woodlands evolve this wine, with more winemaker induced complexity, to compete stronger with the likes of Vasse Felix and Brookland Valley when it comes to cheap Margaret River chardonnay. 87
Woodlands Chloe Chardonnay 2010 ($42) If the standard wine required more winemaker induced complexity this took it too far the other way. Ensconced by nutty, buttery, popcorn-like oak, its peachy fruit barely gets a look in. Likewise, its round and forward palate is controlled by creamy oak nuance, ending short, altogether loose and without necessary brightness or persistence of fruit. It's hard to love and disappointing for the label. Were I Lincoln, I'd be tempted to buy the two Woodlands Chardonnays for the blending bench. Where one fails, the other succeeds. 88
Woodlands Cabernet Franc Merlot 2010 ($17) 51/49 blend. Shows raw edges to its very ripe, dark blackcurrant and cherry fruits with a hint of cinnamon. Its palate also ends raw and hard edged, with its finish of coarse tannins seeming quite out of sync with its ultra-ripe, if fractionally flat, currant fruit fore palate. It's quite disjointed and unbalanced. Another let down from Woodlands' Cab Franc/Merlot, courtesy of the people who make Australia's best straight cabernet franc in my opinion. I'm pretty sure the last disappointment I had from this label was around a 50/50 blend as well. 86
Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2009 ($17) Very ripe, juicy dark plums and currants, composed in a rich, juicy, crowd pleasing style perfectly set for the BBQ. In some respects, it's almost South Australian like. It has good length of medium-full bodied dark fruits, with a charming balance of vanilla oak to smooth it out and lithe tannins to tighten it up. Tasty. (full review soon) 90
Woodlands Margaret Reserve 2008 ($32) 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 11% Malbec. Beautifully ripened and even, with true perfume and a savoury overlay to blackcurrants, cherries, violets and cedar/mocha oak. Its classy palate exudes exceptional suppleness, depth and silky flavour, finishing bright and savoury with excellent length and fine, dry tannins. It's not the most gang-bustingly brilliant Margaret Reserve I've had, but at $32 each, I had no problems in escorting a couple of these back to my place. (full review soon) 94
Woodlands Nicolas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($99) Wonderfully deep, with a chocolatey accent to its blackberries, mulberries, game and polished vanilla/cedar oak with maybe a hint of fresh mint leaf. It's rich and luscious, concentrated and medium to medium-full, yet beautifully measured and even. Its palate drives long and precise, with a near wave-like effect of silky, rich, fleshy dark fruit flavour ending with a truly balanced structure. The only problem I have with this wine, which I always have with this wine, is it's hard to buy one when I could have 3 Margaret Reserves for the same price. Excellent wine though. Wonderful Margaret River cabernet. 95