Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The Majella cellar door on a beautiful, classic Coonawarra winter's day. You can almost sense the stillness and total isolation.

An interesting lot from Majella, which admittedly, I also tasted about a month ago. After an exceptional 2004 and an almost exceptional 2005, I've been somewhat disappointed with their classic cabernet sauvignon across 2006 and 2007. At the previous tasting the 2008 Musician, which has almost become my favourite Majella wine, really impressed me, but for some reason it failed to do so at the Roadshow. At around $17 a bottle though, I can gladly afford to inspect this deeper. Their 2004 Shiraz intrigues me. It certainly isn't current vintage, but the Roadshow was the second tasting where they've pulled it out. They must have surplus supplies or something. At release I really fell for the 2004 Shiraz, finding it vibrant and richly fruited in true Majella style, as I awarded it 94 points. But for the second consecutive Majella tasting I didn't enjoy it, as it seems to be developing quickly and unevenly. It was pleasing to meet Grantly from Fumo Blu serving the products.

Majella The Musician Cabernet Shiraz 2008 Fresh, vibrant nose, yet possibly a bit thin on fruit. Light-bodied, easy drinking and simple palate. Lacks the brightness and sensual, soft texture of previous Musicians. Could be an aeration issue. 86

Majella Shiraz 2004 Developed significantly since release. Very wafty, barnyard-like nose. Requires better length and penetration. Once again, might've benefited from further aeration? 85

Majella Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Heavily ripened nose with currants, fruitcake and faintly minty, creamy chocolate/vanilla oak. Palate shows suggestions of Majella's trademark radiance and character, but without their classic balance and depth. 88

Parker Coonawarra Estate is a member of the Rathbone group of wineries. To the best of my knowledge the wines are still made by Peter Bissell of Balnaves fame. Their Terra Rossa First Growth Cabernet is one of Coonawarra's most highly rated (and pricey) wines. Parker's Merlot (almost $40 a bottle) can also be excellent, which only added to my disappointment with the 2005 release, especially after the 2004 was about as good a Coonawarra merlot as I've had. Anyone who visits Coonawarra should really check out the Parker cellar door. Even if you don't like their wines, they offer free tastings (with bread and dukkah) of the entire range of Pukara's award winning Hunter Valley olive oils. Absolutely delicious, particularly the garlic infused!

Parker Merlot 2005 Sweetly fruited fragrance with tea-leaf and jammy red fruits evident. Soft, uncomplicated palate is quite uninspiring (especially for $40 merlot). 85

Parker Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Somewhat lively, minty cassis aromas with sweet oak. The palate is a lighter Coonawarra style but without great depth, finishing dry with pronounced tannins and dryness. Lacks genuine balance at this price ($40). 87

Parker Terra Rossa First Growth 2005 Restrained (aeration concern again), even, savoury and slightly earthy nose with ripe dark fruits. Classic Parker toasty French oak evident. Reveals good concentration and depth to its generously ripened fruit flavour but just finishes a little raw. 90

It was good to see Petaluma at this event despite their lack of a physical, cellar door presence in Coonawarra. I firmly believe their Coonawarra is one of the region's best. Young winemaker Peter Dregde delivered their wines in great fashion. Presented were four vintages of the Coonawarra:- the soon to be released 2007, the not so soon to be released 2008, the fantastic, slowly maturing 1999 and a 2003. Peter informed me the 2003 was not originally released but after maturing in the bottle for several years, they felt it was now time. Personally I didn't like the 2003 much, making it rather simple to see their original intentions. It does interest me how wineries work such practices though, I wonder if a different producer might've thrown it away, blended it, cleanskin perhaps? The possibilities are endless....

Petaluma Coonawarra 1999 Medium bodied. Soft, elegant, classic 10 year old cabernet of understated intensity and grace. Shows savoury, drying red berry fruit flavour profile but finishes with outstanding structure and length. Probably only half way into its full development cycle. A great Coonawarra. 95

Petaluma Coonawarra 2007 Released next month. Subdued aroma. Pencil shavings-like oak over savoury dark fruits. Vibrant, medium bodied palate with sour edged fruit and pronounced acidity. 89

Petaluma Coonawarra 2008 Unreleased. 100% cabernet sauvignon. Fresh, fruity, raspberry and cassis aromas. Soft, smooth, juicy palate finishes slightly sweet. 90

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