Friday, July 24, 2009


Ok, now I might offend some people here - but I just don't like what Wirra Wirra has offered over the last few years (since the 2004 reds basically).

Typically I've found their red wines over-ripe, tart, meaty and treacle like - a typical problem in McLaren Vale recently, but one which the better producers have been able to avoid.

When Campbell Mattinson awarded them 'Winery of the Year' last year, it shocked the hell out of me. So I headed to the cellar door (July-2008) to investigate. Funnily enough, I wasn't too impressed.

Curiosity (or media talk up) always gets the better of me with Wirra Wirra, which is why I go there every year. I certainly won't die without trying!

This year I found my usual concerns with their wines, but 2007 was not exactly a dream year for McLaren Vale. The picks of the bunch this year were the 2008 12th Man Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills), which is usually one of my favourite Wirra Wirra wines; the much improved second release of their Pipe Organ Pinot Noir (also Adelaide Hills), and the cellar door only Sparrow's Lodge Mourvedre, which although not terribly varietal, was up front, soft, refreshing and different.

Here's my brief notes.

2008 Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc ($22) Adelaide Hills. Pungent goosebery characters evident throughout a juicy palate. Has more flavour than many 2008 Adelaide Hills' savvys. 88

2008 Lost Watch Riesling ($18) Adelaide Hills. Cellar door hand informed me they'd just put this wine into a blind tasting - I'd hate to be the participants, I'd almost never guess this was riesling (or not a true one anyway!) Very ripe nose. Flinty, soft, restrained lime pith/melon aromas. Juicy, overly rounded palate lacks the acidity, drive, line and length which riesling aficionados seek. 85

2008 The 12th Man Chardonnay ($27.50) Adelaide Hills. Well oaked, savoury, nutty nose. Simply textured yet soft palate, shows almost confectionary fruit with pleasing buttery tones. 89

2007 Church Block ($20) Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz /Merlot. Surprisingly spicy nose, with a typically smooth palate which finishes a little awkwardly. 87

2008 Pipe Organ Pinot Noir ($30?) Adelaide Hills. Pleasant, stalky aroma with fresh notes of mint. Much improved texture and balance over the too simple 2007, with some genuine length and brisk acidity. A surprise. 90

2007 Sparrow's Lodge Mourvedre ($25) Fresh, herbal/minty fragrance with some meaty undertones. Unusual but appealing in a simple way. Light-medium bodied palate is fresh/fruit forward. Not terribly varietal or complex yet soft and pleasantly easy drinking. 90

2007 Catapult Shiraz Viognier ($22) Ripe, meaty fragrance with viognier influenced dried apricots evident. Generously fruited, forward palate does show influence of cooked fruit. 86

2007 Woodhenge Shiraz ($30) Perfumed, lifted aromatics. Shows hints of menthol and ripe fruit. Over ripe palate - cooked fruit evident. 86

2007 Sparrow's Lodge Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) McLaren Vale/Coonawarra. Cooked, stewy fruit nose. A light-medium bodied palate is decidedly overdone, with an unbalanced, drying finish. 87

NV Sparrow's Lodge Tawny Port ($25) Rich aromas of date and slight honey. Concentrated palate but lacks depth and complexity. 86

The more Wirra Wirra savvy of you will have noticed no tasting notes for RSW Shiraz or Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon, but I've never seen them available at cellar door. Maybe that's why I always walk away relatively unimpressed and empty handed......

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